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How to climb the career ladder

Career progression is important to many. Reasons vary. You might want to be stimulated through greater responsibility. You may want to make a big impact on the world. Or perhaps you want to earn more money.

No matter what your goals, you’ll need to get focused. That way, you’ll move up the career ladder faster.

Here are some steps to get you climbing.

Know where you’re going

Without a road map you’ll get lost. Without a plan for your career you’ll likely stagnate and/or lose opportunities. So, map your professional development. This will give you confidence and make what you want crystal clear.

Also work through how to transfer your skills from the private to public sector (or vice versa), if that’s of interest. This involves assessing the skills you rely on in your current role and how you can transfer them to a new role.

Think outside the box

To add to your achievements, and make your resume pack a punch, think about ways to build skills.

Perhaps you can take a short-term contract that will move you further up the career ladder. Maybe it’s time to talk to your employer about being assigned to a special project or opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills (this will also show you’re motivated).

Let your employer know you’re ready to step up and want to discuss opportunities for promotion. Ask if there are areas you should strengthen to get ready for internal positions coming up. These experiences will enhance your achievements and enable you to add tangible outcomes and deliverables to your resume.

Be an asset

If you’re an asset to your organisation, you’ll shine and might be top of mind when management is thinking of creating or filling a role. Think about the top skills employers are looking for and reality check if you have them. If not, think about how to do so.

Be positive

2020 was a zany year and we’re still grappling with things thrown our way like COVID-19. It’s easy to be a bit negative at times, however when looking to climb the ladder you need to be positive. It may be challenging, but it’s possible. Here are techniques for changing negative to positive.

Demonstrate integrity

Honesty and integrity are big-ticket items for employers. Make no mistake, employers notice these traits and appreciate them. This is because employers know they can count on employees who are open, honest and operate with integrity.

Ditch bad work habits

It can be easier than you think to develop bad work habits. And don’t for one second think employers can’t spot these. If you’re looking to get to the top of that career ladder, assess if you have bad work habits. We’ve compiled a list of the top bad work habits to ditch in 2021.

Develop IT skills

Being technologically savvy is great for anyone in the workforce, not just those looking for work in the IT arena. Short courses (even self-taught ones) are a super way to build skills in areas like Word, Excel and collaborative tools like Zoom. Doing so will help you pitch how efficient and effective you are, and how you can save your organisation time and effort.

Look for technology and apps that will reduce the time it takes to perform tasks in your position or for the company. Be proactive and lead the way.

Think and act like a leader

Leadership is a skill employers notice. If you plan to move up the career ladder, think about colleagues and/or managers who are already above you. How do they think and act? What leadership skills do they exhibit? Then start emulating these leadership traits.


If you’re an active networker, keep going. If you’re not, get going.

This can mean attending official networking functions outside the office, but you can also network inside the office. Show up at company events. Have lunch or coffee with colleagues. Get to know people in your team and others. Build strong relations and get your name out there.

Be committed

No matter how awesome you are, or how ambitious you are, it can take time to get to the next rung on the career ladder. By being patient, having faith and staying committed, however, you’ll no doubt reach the top.

Want to learn more?

2021: Take the bull by the horns

How to start a new career you love

Seven ways to upskill for the future

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