Quickly move up career – is there a secret sauce?

How to (quickly) move up the career ladder

So you want to fast track your way up the career ladder but don’t know how?

Moving up the proverbial career ladder can be trying for most. It requires hard work, commitment, effective strategy, and relationship management.

Here are some concrete tips on how to quickly move up the career ladder:

How to (quickly) Move Up the Career Ladder

Learn to love your job.

You got hired because the employer decided you can get the job done. In order to thrive, you need to be passionate about your job.

Sure, it is possible to be competent and stay at a company for many years while being miserable, but who wants that? You don’t need to love your job. Sure, love can be a strong word, but it’s hard to excel at something if you don’t enjoy it.

Your career well-being can improve drastically by editing the environment. Develop healthy professional relationships with your colleagues. It can also be small things like an uncluttered desk space.

Survive the corporate environment.

Survive the corporate environment. Develop healthy relationships with your colleagues, but don’t engage in office politics. Be professional: don’t engage in toxic gossip, don’t join factions, don’t date colleagues. Save precious energy in being amazing at what you do. Treat everybody with respect fairly, whatever their position.

You don’t need to engage in politics to get quickly up the ladder. You don’t need to toot your own horn–in fact, there are some benefits to being ‘below the radar’– your achievements will be more noticeable and surprise everyone in the workplace. Let the results of your hard work speak for itself.

Be an initiator.

90% of employees are executors, but it’s the other 10% who initiate, the ones who do things that they are not asked to do, who move up the ladder the quickest,” Andy Teach, corporate veteran and author, tells Forbes.

Learn how to solve problems at work. A lot of people at work want to do just the bare minimum, be the outlier. Don’t wait for your boss to ask you, be a proactive problem solver. You’ll become one of the critical essentials in the workplace who executes and solves problems in the office.

It’s not about being a Yes man. it’s simply about doing the dirty job that no one else wants to do.

Contribute beyond your job description.

The title of this article is “How to Move Up the Career Ladder”, not “How to Be Good at Your Job”. There’s a difference. Being good at your job is already requisite; however, it does not assure you a promotion.

The trick is to contribute beyond your job description. Do more than what is expected. Continue learning and improving on the skills you were hired to do. It can be as simple as helping set up a printer, or organizing a company outing, or writing a proposal to management to streamline a process.

You will be more than just a competent worker but as a valuable resource who cares about the company and looks out for the needs of others. Focusing here makes you less people-competitive while being more company-valuable.

Be a resource.

Continue building your own skill and knowledge base.

Don’t stop learning–read, study, follow the industry leaders, attend industry events and conferences. This helps you keep abreast and go beyond your company.

Keep growing your expert status and credibility in your field, not just within your company.

Keep a success file.

Record and file all your achievements in a success file, especially when it aligns with the company goals and priorities. Quantifiable and measurable results are always good for companies in determining if you are worthy of raise or promotion.

Be a team player.

Image by @andreeas at Twenty20

You may be competent at what you do, but it will be hard for you to take on a more managerial role if you don’t work well with others.

Supervisors look carefully at which employees work well with others, in and out of their own departments. Teamwork pays off. Being a team player will certainly help you in your career.

“The ability to win friends and influence others is a skill needed increasingly as you move up in any organization,” Lewis adds.

‘Managing upwards

Managing upwards is a powerful application of leadership skills. At its core, it’s relationship management and ways to help your boss help you.

Managing upwards is not managing your boss in a manipulative or deceptive way, but in a way that aligns our capabilities with company interests.

It starts with understanding the company’s values and your boss’s priorities, and align your efforts with their goals & objectives.

Also read: How to Set SMART Professional Goals

We can be leaders even without having the official title of leader or manager. Leadership is a skill that can be learned and must be practiced.

Thinking in these terms empowers an employee to express ideas and propose constructive changes to how work is being done in the company.

Employees who know how to manage upwards are empowered and engaged. They are slow to complain about how things are run because they know how to communicate the changes they want.

Lewis agrees: “Know your boss’ top personal and professional goals, then do all you can to help him or her advance their priorities.  Every leader needs lieutenants, and when you serve them their favor toward you will increase and they are likely to pull you in and up to more responsibility and opportunities for quicker advancement.”


To quickly move up the career ladder, it’s not about playing office politics well. It’s really just hard work and commitment: you need to be an initiator, work your ass off, do your job well and go beyond, be a team player, fit in the company culture and manage upwards.

No one climbs the career ladder by being greedy or lazy. It may be easy to land a job by family or friend connections, but to be able to stay there long and to move upwards is a different story.

Image by @andreeas at Twenty20

There are two ways to think about a company.

The first is that a company is composed of people who work together to create value for the customer according to methods and processes that are decided on by management.

The second view is the company is a set of processes that solves a problem. Workers work on parts of the process according to different job descriptions which map out into an organizational hierarchy.

Companies tend to become more bureaucratic and impersonal the bigger they get. It has to do with the second view supplanting the first view.

It can sound odd for a company to expect employees to love their job or to encourage them to do things that are beyond their job description. And, heaven forbid, employees learn to manage their boss.

The first view tends to be forgotten over time–and there lies the opportunity.

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