Top tips to advance your career and develop new skills


Career advancement can be a long and challenging process that involves transitioning from Career advancemententry-level jobs to leadership roles with greater responsibilities. Finding opportunities to progress in your career journey can provide job satisfaction and personal fulfilment. It is important to identify the best ways to develop new skills and advance your career successfully. Depending on your unique situation, you may want to move to a senior role, or you may be looking to transfer to another occupation. Regardless of your aspirations, there are some simple strategies you can follow. Below we have compiled a list of our top tips to make significant career progress.

Set Specific Goals 

Firstly, it can be helpful to define the specific role that you want to have and establish short-term and long-term goals. Then, you will need to familiarise yourself with the intermediate positions you must pass through and set a time frame to reach the top of your career. Consider the actions you need to take and the skills required to achieve this point in your career journey. It may also include identifying the specific educational qualifications you need to obtain. Additionally, write down SMART goals to help you stay on track.

Gain New Skills

Another way you can advance in your career is through additional training. Taking the time to improve your skills and gain new knowledge will have a positive effect on your career progression. There are many short business courses which can help you expand your knowledge about business management. For example, signing up for a business management course at The University of Cape Town can be a great way to learn more about the different fields of business management, including marketing, finance, market research, competitive analysis, and more. In addition, it can provide you with the skills you need to assess organisational risks and develop effective strategies to mitigate them.

Pay Close Attention To Your Interests

It’s important to ensure that you only pursue opportunities that match your interests and goals. While it might be tempting to accept a job role that you have been offered, you should only do so if you are certain that this position aligns with what you want to achieve in the future. This will ensure that you will feel happy and fulfilled with your career advancement journey. You should also look for opportunities that will help you make the best use of your strengths.

Get A Mentor

Working with a mentor is key for anyone who wants to advance their career. A professional mentor is usually someone in a senior role who you respect and admire. They can give you valuable insights into career opportunities, specific professional situations, or negotiation strategies. To gain a trusted advisor, you must first establish your expectations and search through your personal and professional networks. The right mentor will exhibit all the necessary skills, attributes, and qualities to succeed in a certain industry. Once you find a suitable mentor, you can reach out to them and arrange informal meetings, which can develop into a professional relationship.

Recognise Your Strengths And Weaknesses

We all have strengths and weaknesses, and it is crucial to acknowledge them to identify areas for improvement. This means that if you want to optimise your everyday work performance, you will need to utilise your strengths and work on your weaknesses at the same time. Therefore, you should be your own critic and continue evaluating your performance regularly. Some useful ideas you can implement include finding patterns in your performance, identifying what you enjoy the most at work, and noting how you respond to stressful situations. Keeping things clear in your head will allow you to accomplish much more than you expect.

Stay Focused

Workplace distractions may come in all shapes and sizes, so it is important to stay focused and maximise your productivity. To avoid distractions, make sure you stay away from your email and phone, as notifications can often pop up and direct your attention elsewhere. Keep your eyes focused on completing the task at hand and do not allow others to interrupt your day. Likewise, it is recommended to take short breaks during work hours to help you unwind. For example, you may want to listen to your favourite song, go for a walk or do some stretching exercises. 

Learn Effective Communication Techniques

Communication is an important part of achieving better results. Effective communication skills can help you develop confidence in different aspects of your work and find new ways to improve your performance. To begin with, pay attention to nonverbal communication or body language, as this is an area which is often overlooked. Active listening will also help you understand what a person is saying better. Additionally, you may want to open lines of communication by setting up weekly and monthly meetings with your supervisors and managers. This will allow you to share recent concerns, challenges, and even triumphs.

Meet Like-Minded Professionals

Growing your professional network can provide you with various benefits, as you can meet like-minded people who can offer useful advice and guidance to help you along your professional journey. Therefore, it may be helpful to attend different networking events, regardless of whether they are held online or in person. As a result, you will have the opportunity to meet industry leaders and talk to them about your career goals. This way, you might also be able to meet a potential hiring manager or maybe your next mentor.

Start Preparing Early

If there is a role that you would like to get in the next five years, now might be the right time to start preparing for it. Although it might look early and you may have other commitments to think about, it might still be a good idea to find out more about the skills you will need to succeed in your desired role. This will help you gain confidence and ensure you are ready to take on any obstacles that may come your way when you are applying for this role. 

Monitor Your Progress

You will need to develop a reliable system which can help you monitor and track your progress consistently. Make sure you are taking the necessary steps to advance and reach the milestones you have set for yourself. It may be useful to share your career journey with a friend or your mentor to keep yourself motivated to reach your goals. This way, you can also receive feedback and even reassess your goals if necessary. By developing a habit of regularly checking with yourself, you will know when is the right time to make adjustments. 

Demonstrate Your Commitment

When you are trying to advance your career, it’s crucial to share your plans and goals for the future with people who can help you progress. Whether that’s your manager at work or your mentor, you should let them know what your goals are. This is a great way to demonstrate your commitment so that if an opportunity arises, you might be one of the first ones to find out about it. In addition, expressing your desire to learn and develop new skills means that your manager will be more likely to give you more responsibilities, which will help you go out of your comfort zone.