5 tips that could save your career

Getting the job is only half the battle these days. Hundreds of people applied to the job you got and hundreds more are trying every day to break into your industry. Along with that, the workplace is full of people pushing to get ahead and stay ahead. Competing with your colleagues isn’t only about being better and smarter. It’s about being the right person at the right time. It’s about consistency and surprising your employer in the right ways.

1. Make a Plan

It’s great that you’re in the field you want to be in, but what now? Where do you want to be next year? In five years? Make a plan for yourself and outline ways to get to where you want to be. Know what steps need to be taken to get that next promotion, to land that next account. But be flexible. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to roll with the changes without losing confidence or motivation. You’ll run into some setbacks in your career, both major and minor, and it’s how you deal with being derailed that determines how far your plans and abilities can take you.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Making your first million dollars is a fine goal to have, but leave it for later. If you’re only focusing on catching the whale, you’ll miss all the opportunities right in front of you. So set goals for yourself, but make them relatively short term. You have the next couple years outlined already, so work on things you can do immediately, which will help you succeed. For example, if you work for an international company, try to learn a new language, but make your progress realistic. Learn a few words a day. Take the month to learn a new tense. The goals matter, and completing them will give you momentum to keep pushing forward with your career.

3. Ask for Advice and Pay Attention

Never be ashamed to ask for help. Most people you meet are more than willing to share their expertise, and it reflects well on you when you ask for help. Once you’ve asked, pay attention. As much as people love to teach others and help people succeed, they hate to constantly remind them or re-teach them. Paying attention extends beyond this. Listen to what’s happening in your office and your industry. Know what people do, what they need, and watch how they succeed. Look for new opportunities, no matter what they are.

4. Fill Gaps

Because you’ve paid attention and asked for help, you’ll know what people want and need. Fill those gaps. Looks for new projects and find the holes that no one else saw. Fill those holes. Make yourself valuable by doing things no one else is doing. Show your colleagues and superiors that you’re responsible, capable, and flexible. If you get a reputation for getting things done, then you’re already ahead of the competition.

5. Cooperate

The business world is a high pressured place of constant competition and scraping to get ahead. It can wear on you, and it can keep you back, so find ways to build cooperation with those around you. Be willing to share credit with a colleague and use their expertise to get you ahead. Collaborate on new projects. Find someone to bounce ideas off of. Help yourself get ahead by bringing up those around you. This will also relieve you from the constant stress of the business world. Everyone needs a friend, so you might as well make a friend or ten at your job.

If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be on the road to success. Just because they’re simple to say doesn’t mean they’re easy to do, however, so find your own map to success. Be open and flexible, but have a direction and know how to get to your destination.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.