Secrets to Getting Ahead in Your Career

Advice, Career, Editor Favorite

Reflect on yourself. Think about 2 to 3 instances in your life that have helped defined your future. For me, it’s…

  1. Receiving a full-ride scholarship
  2. Meeting my best friend
  3. Getting an amazing job

To some extend, your list might consist of similar items. I’m going to break down how my three instances fit into my secrets to getting ahead.

Be honest with yourself

I had a super rough childhood. If you knew my story, you’d either think I deserve a big hug or consider myself lucky compared to you. But don’t compare yourself to me or others; past, present, or future. It doesn’t really matter how hard you’ve had it, what matters is how you overcame hardships and how you have accepted them.

Being honest with myself came to me senior year of high school. I was tired of feeling sorry for the state of which my life was in. I hadn’t given up and I was only going to push harder. So I applied for a prestigious scholarship in my state. Have you heard of the Buffet’s?

I told my story and knew I couldn’t hold back. Not because I wanted them to feel sorry for me. Despite everything I’ve been through, I persevered and wanted the chance to keep going without the obstacle of money or thinking I wasn’t good enough. If I hadn’t gotten that scholarship, and told my story triumphantly, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college.

Accept who you are and how you have lived.

Don’t be afraid to tell your story if someone asks. Be proud of who you have become and how you got here today. Even if your story isn’t dramatic, you’ve got something else that the next person never got to experience. Your story is your own brand and that is how people will remember you, relate to you, and know what you are capable of.

Winning others over

Winning others over can be the more agonizing secrets and gets the most grief. When really, it is one of our more natural abilities that we choose to turn off.

This is where I admit to not following this rule. My best friend Hannah did though. We were both in 4th grade and met in after school competitive swimming. We even happened to have the same teacher. Like any kid that had just moved to a new school, I was upset about starting over and didn’t feel like socializing. Hannah kept trying to talk to me and for an embarrassingly long time I didn’t even know her name. She had a natural ability to win others over and naturally we became best friends.

Our friendships help shape who we are. What Hannah did for me, you’ve done for someone else and vis versa. What’s important is to continue to do this in your adult life and career. That stranger could be your best friend someday or maybe even your employer.

Who you know does matter.

A hard truth to live by is that people can have an advantage over you or you will get ahead of someone else.

Scenario 1
You’re applying for a job. You and another candidate could have identical resumes. Same education, similar set of skills, equally good references, and both had great in-person interviews. However, the other candidate met the team lead months ago at an event they have similar interests in. Who do you think has the upper advantage?

Scenario 2
The company you work for is in need of a new hire immediately to fulfill a client need. They could make a job posting and send it out to a dozen job boards, but that takes time, resources, and money. You recall an acquaintance you’ve know for years, you think they most likely fit what the company needs. You decide to ask them to apply for the position and they end up getting hired. Literally everyone misses out and the opportunity came to them. 

Both of these scenarios happen all the time and you could be on either side of the situation. Someone missed out on the opportunity, but because you knew the right person, you had the upper advantage.

Winning other’s over is a way to persuade others to like you and remember you. Someday you might help them out or they will help you out.

My main point here is that you never know what can happen when you start a conversation or put yourself out there. It could possibly change your life.

Take chances

Whether you are unhappy with your current career or are fresh out of college. Apply anywhere you feel you are qualified for. It’s easy for you to want to apply to the hot companies, because you want to be part of the elite few or partly that’s all you know to apply for.

There are two parts to this secret.

Try anyway, with your best foot forward
There’s a certain few that consider some jobs or companies beneath them and choose not to apply. Or others are too afraid to apply in fear of rejection.

I was half way through college and was once afraid to apply for a student position. It seemed interesting, but hard and daunting. Other students seemed to shy away from the opportunity, because of the challenge. I was afraid I wouldn’t live up to their expectations and fail, but I applied anyway. I found out later there was only one other applicant other than me. I was the one who got the job. No position is unreachable if you try. 

This job helped me craft the skills I needed for a successful career after college. I learned a lot of valuable insight that gave me a leg up above my other classmates. I understood my professors more and others would come to me for advice to improve their projects. In some cases, I felt I knew more than my instructors in certain disciplines.

You might be surprised by what you find
After graduating college and I hadn’t lined up a full-time job yet. I had a couple very successful interviews, but wasn’t hired. It was almost out of desperation that I applied to a company I thought would be boring to work at, but I gave it a chance and wasn’t sure what to expect. Four years later, I’m still happy going into work, have best friends, and love what I work on.

No position is beneath you. Don’t be afraid to apply for a job that you aren’t good enough for or you think you’d be settling for. All jobs have a different perspective on the inside and the expectations are what you make of them once you experience it for yourself. Take chances on the unknown.



Think back to your moments that defined you. Then analyze how those instances happened and how you have used them in your career. This advice won’t guarantee success, but is meant to help you utilize your own truths about you, embrace it, and achieve awareness what some fully realized adults have not figured out.

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