8 Simple Ways to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Starting block

From the starting block to the finish line, if you want to get ahead at work, we have eight easy tips for you. Whether you’re an entry level employee or middle management shooting for the corner office, these tips will give you a boost as you climb the ladder.


1. Manage your temper. Assertiveness and tantrums do not go hand in hand. In fact, having a tantrum at the office is the fastest way to ensure that your boss and coworkers won’t take you seriously. We all have tricks to keep our anger in check—figure out what works for you and use it.

2. Embrace change. Don’t just expect it; greet it with hearty applause. Change is good. It’s a lot easier to get ahead if you move forward on a wave of growth, and companies that resist change don’t grow. You’ll also stand out from the crowd, because most people react to change with fear and resistance.

listen quote3. Listen, don’t talk. This doesn’t mean you have to be the creepy, quiet one in the office. But take note of how often your supervisors engage in personal chit-chat. If it happens often, rest assured that it will just be a matter of time before Chatty Cathy is on her way out and inscrutable you gets her job.

4. Strive for perfection. Even if you’re having a bad day, don’t turn in half-finished or incomplete work. There are so many chair warmers out there; you don’t even have to exert that much effort to be perfect. Spell-check everything, even casual e-mails. Double-check facts and figures. Know your deadlines. Ask for help or advice. Don’t rush through something just to get out the door at 5 p.m.

5. Be your own measure. Don’t use coworkers as a gauge for your success. Even if everyone else in the office spends afternoons surfing the internet for pleasure or phoning contractors for their new kitchen, don’t do it. You’d be surprised who’s watching and listening, and you’ll stand out if you’re the productive one.

6. Dress the part. You don’t have to spend a million to look like you did if you’re a smart shopper. Even if the workplace is creative-casual and your boss dresses down, you can still get a lot of mileage out of looking professional. Being professional just means being pulled together—not power suits and panty hose. You can express your individuality and still look “office-appropriate.”

7. Lead before you are asked. Don’t wait for a promotion to start taking on new challenges. Do your job, but keep an eye out for learning opportunities. Just because you’ve never used a software program or written a press release doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out. (Every software program has a help file, and you can find examples of press releases by Googling “press release”).

8. DON’T WATCH THE CLOCK. Even if this is JUST a job for you, treat it as a career stepping stone. We’ve all worked with that employee who runs off like a shot as soon as the second hand lines up with the twelve, but your boss will notice that you’d rather be anywhere else.

About the author

Kelly Love Johnson

Kelly Love Johnson is Content Strategist for Jobs2Careers. She's also a shower singer, TV watcher, pop culture junkie, and habitual smirker. She's passionate about helping people find their dream jobs and closing the wage gap. Her book, Skirt! Rules for the Workplace: An Irreverent Guide to Advancing Your Career, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008.

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