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5 More Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career

Since so many of you were interested in Friday's post, 6 Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career, I decided that I should share some other career strategies also adapted from a recent presentation by author and career coach Donald Asher. 

  1. Always make your boss look good. Your boss—not your coworkers or other people in the company— is your constituency. Your power and reputation come from your boss and you should, therefore, always protect your boss. The best way to help your boss is to do your job well. If you are not willing to do these things, you have the wrong boss, and it’s time to find a new one.
  2. Stand next to talent. It pays to stand in the shadow of extremely talented people. Superstars create disruption to the status quo, and that by itself creates opportunity. Talent sharpens talent. If you see a superstar passing by, align yourself with them and get involved with what they’re doing, so you can share in that success. As long as you keep succeeding, they keep succeeding and the system works for both of you. They create activity and movement, which in turn, creates opportunities for advancement. You never want to be the smartest person in the room.
  3. Develop a sponsor. “Mentors” are out, benefactors and sponsors are now assuming that role. Benefactors and sponsors are people who believe in you, who watch out for you and have your best interest at heart. A sponsor will even put their reputation on the line for you. Identify people in power and befriend them. You need to make friends with these people before you need their support. But keep in mind this is not a one-way relationship. Don’t be a user. Make sure you keep their favor tank full by sharing useful information with them or doing favors for them to show your appreciation.
  4. Be willing to move to an opportunity. Failure to relocate into a good opportunity is a career stopper. Go global or get left behind! According to the U.S. Census Bureau you will move within four years anyway, so you might as well do so for your next great opportunity. Especially in today’s housing market, if you can move, you are in a better position to take advantage of relocation opportunities. Oh, and if you work for an international firm, begin learning that second or third language to help prepare yourself for a future opportunity.
    (Don’t forget the turndown rule: Turn down two offers to relocate for a promotion, and you’re off the organization’s promotion track altogether and forever.)
  5. Be lucky and prepared. The best way to lobby luck is to be ready for its arrival. Have a career plan at all times. You should plan, but you must also revise and improvise constantly. You can prepare, but you also have to know when to take advantage of serendipitous opportunities. It is impossible to plan for the random opportunities that may present themselves, but you can make sure you see and recognize these opportunities. 
  6. So that's 11 total career tips! What do you think? Any others you can share with your aspiring leaders?

    You can gain more valuable insights from Donald Asher’s wonderful book, Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't and Why: 10 Things You'd Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead. You can also learn more from his website at donaldasher.com.

    Michael Ramos, Director of CPE and Training, American Institute of CPAs. Mike sets the strategic direction and manages operations of the professional development business unit at the AICPA. He combines his understanding of technical audit and accounting issues with his communication skills and experience to advance AICPA CPE offerings. He is the author of many books and training courses on SOX 404, internal control and other auditing matters.


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