Group of African American businesspeople around table with laptops looking ahead

How to Climb Up the Corporate Ladder

Navigating the working world as a recent graduate is hard when not all employers have the same expectations. Here's some universal advice to take to any job!

Climbing the corporate ladder is a rat race for most young people. As much as new workers dream of being the boss, enjoying more vacation time, and making more money, the challenges they face when developing their careers more often than not leave them discouraged. So what can you do to get that promotion you’ve been dreaming of? There are several proven ways of climbing the corporate ladder—here are just a few.

Let your accomplishments be known

Maintain a running file of everything you’ve done and every contribution you’ve made in your profession, then share that file with your bosses, company shareholders, and industry shapers. Don’t just let your accomplishments disappear into nothing—ensure they’re noted by the people who matter. When you complete an important task, communicate about it both horizontally and vertically (with both peers and higher-ups), but be careful not to seem boastful. Take a simple accomplishment such as a positive review by a client you served or a group project you led successfully and communicate such compliments and achievements tactfully to the right people.

Always be ready to learn

You won’t become a better employee or a team leader without consistently improving your skill set. Be ready to develop new skills when you’re given a responsibility requiring abilities you don’t yet possess, and put in the extra effort to learn. Read widely, consult your management regularly, and even communicate with coworkers newer than you. Everyone has something unique to teach you. Educate yourself so you don’t limit yourself to the few skills you already excel in. 

Related: Transferable College-to-Job Skills for Students

Stay out of company politics

Real growth happens when you learn how to keep your head down on your work and keep out of office politics. Of course, politics are everywhere these days, and everyone around you seems to enjoy them. However, if your colleagues try to drag you into a discussion of who should get the corner office and who shouldn’t have been promoted, try to remain neutral and focused on your career. Don’t put yourself in a box by choosing sides when others fight for power; you’ll only limit where you can build to in the future.

Learn to listen

Listening skills for managers enable leaders to read the intentions and feelings of their employees, which then helps them manage their teams effectively. When you listen, your colleagues will be more open to you, they’ll be motivated to work on your team, and they’ll be positive about whichever role you give them because they feel heard. Your bosses, on the other hand, will feel more respected when you listen and follow instructions, and they’ll trust you more with critical projects in the future. Bottom line: Listening is an essential skill you must possess if you want to get that promotion.

Related: Boost Your Career Advantages With These 5 Liberal Arts Skills

Constantly tap into your network

You have more networks than you think, both in your social and professional lives. In your social life, you encounter many people who can help you advance your career: your neighbor, that friend from church, a former schoolmate, or even some of your extended relatives form part of your social network. Don’t hesitate to tap into that network whenever you’re looking for a job or references for an interview you’re going in for. Any help in the form of job recommendations, career tips, or even social support are crucial to your success.

Be ready to leave your comfort zone

Seeking comfort is an innate characteristic in humans, but you should be prepared to leave your comfort zone at any time when you’re stuck in a career rut. Constantly strive to acquire something new, to try new careers and employment opportunities. New jobs, new positions, new organizations, and new challenges will bring out the best in you and help you move forward in your field. 

Related: The Top 10 Hard and Soft Skills All Employers Want

Always believe there’s a pinnacle to your career, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. Maintain your focus on that ultimate corporate goal you’ve been aiming for and you will reach it someday. 

For more great career advice, check out the articles for both current students and new college grads in our Internships and Careers section.

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About Albin Morgan

Albin Morgan is a young and ambitious career expert who specializes in young adults career guidance. He has been helping people with professional development for the past three years.


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