Skills You Need To Get Ahead In Your Career

See also:Personal Development

The workplace as we know it is changing, and we as workers within it need to know how to change with the times in order to keep up - or at least so that we can try to stay ahead of the game!

Who we are as people is even more important nowadays, as people are being selected for positions and roles based on their personal attributes, extracurricular activities and involvements, and their overall ‘fit’ for the workplace – in addition to their skills and qualifications of course.

With the advent of social media it’s now standard practice for potential employers to check you out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram prior to interviewing you.

Some people might say that this is an invasion of privacy, but if you don’t want prospective employers snooping around your antics from last Saturday night, then it’s suggested that you keep your profiles set to private!

Of course, your LinkedIn profile is something you should have available for prospective employers as some recruiters search online for prospects and may even head-hunt you for roles. (See: Managing your Online Presence for more information).

Your personality and your professional presentation are important things to cultivate as part of your efforts to get ahead with your job. However, some characteristics are more important than others depending on the role that you are trying to get.

Let’s take a look at some of the skills that are important for you to get ahead in your career:


This is a pretty straight-forward concept, and it outlines the fact that in order to work well in most environments, you need to be able to adapt to a changing situation, and to be open to different ways of thinking.

If you think back on your professional career, can you outline or identify some events or occasions in which you know you could have been more flexible or open to doing something a different way? If so, you might need to work on how you react to and adjust to change in the workplace.

It can be useful to practice some exercises with this skill, and a great way to start changing is to make sure that you take some time before responding to emails, colleagues or to problems or challenges in the workplace, and to consider all the possibilities.

This sort of thinking can open your actions up to a whole different way to problem solve.

Listening Skills

There are probably few things worse than talking to someone in a meeting for an hour, and going over some key points with them, only to find that they have then gone and continued doing the exact same thing following your talk.

Being a good listener is about more than just being ‘engaged’ and making uh-huh noises and nodding when someone is talking to you; it’s about taking in what is being said, and engaging with the content of a conversation.

If action is required, then you take the necessary action, and refer back to the original message if you need clarification. If you know you’re pretty bad at taking in information in meetings, then perhaps ask if it would be ok to record important meetings on your phone to listen to later.

You could even get your record of the meeting typed up since this may be a useful resource for the whole office.

See our pages: Listening Skills, Active Listening and Listening Misconceptions for more information.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.


We don't mean misguided arrogance about your achievements here.

The confidence that you need to get ahead in your career will revolve around your ability to stand up for your ideas, to have the nous to go ahead with a project when you're feeling secretly unsure, and to promote the achievements of others.

Confidence in the workplace will ensure that you have the ability to do the work that is required of you in an engaged, sure, and certain manner.


The ability to be able to hold a conversation with just about anyone at any time and in any place is a vital component of you getting yourself ahead in the workplace.

After all, you never know what is going to change as a result of a conversation, and you never know who you are going to meet in your life who may go on to be a vital influence in your career.

The benefits to striking up a conversation are numerous - especially if you are equipped with a small number of business cards that you can hand out to select parties, and if you are a good speaker.

If you’re passionate about what it is that you do, people will be impressed with your ability to converse on what your profession is, and will be more likely to engage with you in a professional sense.


It’s all very well to take direction, and often the right thing to do is to listen and then act based upon what you have been told. But sometimes it’s highly effective, and indeed the right thing to do, to ask questions and to try and figure out a better way of doing something.

If you know that you’re not being as productive as possible, or that something is in dire need of a revamp or update, you’re going to be rewarded for your innovation and thoughtfulness - provided that you approach the right people in the right way.

What this means is that you need to be respectful of the authority of others, but also courageous enough to challenge something if you know it’s not right, or if it could be done in a better way.

See our page: Innovation Skills for more information.

The most important thing is to not adopt an attitude of complacency when it comes to your career, and to always seek out the best opportunities for yourself and for your growth.

About the Author

Janet Stella retired from a life of teaching after 35 years and is now an advocate for TAFE Courses.

Her passion for education is still very much alive and evident through her personal reflections. Most of her pieces explore the subject of education and how it has rapidly evolved as a result of technological advancements.

She draws not only on her personal experience, but on the experience of her children and family who have been exposed to various models of education.