Propel Forward: 4 Ways to Advance Your Career — Tips and Tricks From a Career Strategist

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Lee Koles166
Founder, Career Strategist at CareerSequel
April 17, 2024 at 12:45AM UTC

“What are the secrets to advancing my career?”

People ask me this all the time: If I could distill career advancement strategy down to its most basic components, what would they be?

Here are 4 powerful elements to propel your career forward:

1. Set your eye on the prize.

“Without dreams and goals, there is no living, only merely existing. And that is not why we’re here.” - Mark Twain

What do you want to achieve? 

Answering this question is the first step to advancing your career. Do you want a promotion? Is your eye set on a specific position? Do you want to leave your organization? 

Give yourself a timeline and decide what you want to achieve. For example, “One year from now I want to have a new position that is more meaningful and flexible.”

Then, write it down. Research by Dr. Gail Matthews revealed that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you document them. Writing down your goals not only forces you to clarify what you want, but it provides a visual representation of what you hope to achieve. Your ambitions become more tangible. 

2. Identify (and leverage) your strengths.

“You will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents.” - Donald Clifton

You possess unique talents that, when exercised, drive you toward your goals. Your greatest strengths are such a natural part of you that you may not be aware of them. They’re easier for others to notice than for you to articulate on your own.

This is why I kick off all of my client relationships with the CliftonStrengths assessment. Grounded in over 50 years of research, this assessment has been taken by over 28 million people and generates highly personalized results (the odds of two people having the same top five strengths in the same order is 1 in 33 million). It measures 34 different talent themes and can be purchased online

You can also enlist the help of your family, friends, and coworkers to help you identify your strengths. Ask them: 

  • When have you seen me at my best?

  • What things do you feel come naturally to me?

  • What sets me apart from others?


Once you know your strengths, you can use them to advance in your career. Gallup research reveals that people who focus on their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. They experience more positive energy, are more confident, more productive, and are more likely to achieve their goals. 

3. Give generously.

“If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.” - Keith Ferrazzi

Good things come to those who give - this also applies to your career. Ask yourself: What can you do to help within your industry? How could your strengths, skills, and connections benefit your organization? 

In the groundbreaking book, Give and Take, Adam Grant reveals that those who achieve extraordinary career success take determined action to accomplish personal goals while simultaneously fueling the success of others.  

Generous acts set the foundation of strong relationships. Build your network authentically, investing time in meaningful activities that support others. When done in tandem with striving towards your own objectives, everyone wins.

The key ingredient with generous giving is “authenticity”; Grant found that those who give with the sole intention of getting something in return are less likely to succeed.  

4. Assemble your team.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” - Epictetus

Career advancement comes readily when you have a support system in place. Consider the players you want on “Team You”. Your friends, family, coworkers, mentor, or coach can all boost, inspire and encourage you as you channel energy into your work.

Discussing your career aspirations also puts the element of accountability into play. Powerful research by The American Society of Training and Development found that accountability makes all the difference as you set goals for yourself. They revealed that:

  • Individuals who keep their aspirations to themselves have a 10% chance of realizing that goal.

  • The chance of goal achievement jumps to 65% when you tell someone else about it.

  • You have a 95% chance of accomplishing your goal when you schedule accountability sessions with a mentor or coach.

The research is clear: leaning into your support system and having them hold you accountable will drive your career ambitions forward.

These four elements work together to create the powerful combination of strategic goal setting, supportive relationships, accountability, generosity and integrity. 

Focus on them and watch your career thrive.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Dr. Lee Koles is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Career Strategist, and the founder of CareerSequel, where she helps professionals leverage their strengths to uplevel their careers. She is the host of the CareerSequel podcast. Connect with Dr. Koles on LinkedIn or apply to speak with her directly at https://www.careersequel.com. 

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