10 Career Advancement Secrets For Your First Job

by JOHN MUSCARELLO / Follow Me on Twitter Here

10 Career Advancement Secrets For Your First JobEveryone can use some career advancement advice.  How do you advance your career?  How do you get promoted? How do you make it to the next level and impress your boss?

You do the little things that you don’t think matter. It’s what you do everyday, and not just some of the time, that makes you successful. Your goal is to become the go-to person in your organization

This isn’t a list of fluffy BS like “don’t gossip,” “come to work early,” “be a team player,” “always meet deadlines,” etc.

And that’s why I’m happy to share these 10 career advancement techniques that I’ve personally used to get the attention of senior-level executives. As a result I have been given opportunities that many other employees don’t get until they have been with a company for years.

Let’s jump right in…

Career Advancement Secret #1: Know Which Tasks Are Important (click to tweet) 

Solution: Communicate with your boss on priorities.
Tell your boss, “”I am going to do A, B, and C in this order. Has anything come up that you would like me to start working on now, or is there something on the list that you would like me to do first?”

This is more effective then saying, “What would you like me to do today?” You did all the hard work. Now all your boss has to say is “yes” or “no.”

What you think is important and what your boss thinks is important are two different things. It will also help you avoid your boss asking for something on your to-do list that you haven’t completed yet.

Career Advancement Secret #2: Don’t Rush Through Projects, Tasks And Emails (click to tweet)

Solution: Proofread
Every email that you send to clients and even your boss should be error-free.

Write presentations early so you can review them with fresh eyes. You will be shocked how many errors you catch.
Be known for creating quality work and your boss will want you to work on the most important projects.

These sound very silly, but they are more important than you think. Your boss is responsible for all the work you produce and if your work is sloppy, you make your boss look sloppy.

Career Advancement Secret #3: Be Personable And Likable (click to tweet)

Solution: Be friendly and say “hello” to the people at work
Smile when people pass by, say, “Hi, (name).” People love the sound of their own name. It’s amazing how many people don’t say a simple “hello” to their coworkers or even the CEO! Don’t have a Resting Crabby Face!

It’s simply rude and some people take offense to little things like this.

Being likeable will always get you the benefit of the doubt. If you make a mistake they will cut you a break because they like you. It also keeps you top of mind.

**Bonus tip: If you want to start more conversation at work, learn how to create networking opportunities at work.

Career Advancement Secret #4: Keep Track Of Your Accomplishments At Work (click to tweet)

If your boss asked you, “What the hell have you been doing today?” Would you have a list to read to him or her?

Solution: Create a Word document or an Evernote notebook. (Don’t keep track by hand. If you have to email the list, it will take you less then a minute).
Your boss is going to ask you to do a lot of things that aren’t on your to-do list. Anything that takes you more then 15 minutes should be on that list. Four small 15-minute tasks equal an hour!

If you are unsure if you need to complete a new assignment ASAP, simply ask your boss, “Should I do this before (project)?” Trust me, your boss will be happy that you asked.

This will allow you to account for your time and you will feel great about how much you accomplished.

The best part of keeping a list of all your accomplishments is that when your review rolls around, you will have a massive list of all your accomplishments. Every client and project you worked on.

Career Advancement Secret #5: Ask For Help If You Don’t Understand A Project (click to tweet)

One hour before a meeting is not the time to tell your boss that you tried your best, but you’re still confused.

Solution: Ask questions about the assignment
When your boss gives you an assignment that has vague directions make sure to ask questions. Say, “I just want to clarify that these are the main goals of the project.”

If you get stuck half way through the project, or are not sure if you are on the right track, ask your boss, “Do you have a minute to take a look at this. I started working on the project and I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track.”

**Don’t show up with nothing and say, “I’m confused on how to get started. What do you want me to do exactly?” If you do your boss is gong to say in his head, “Why didn’t he or she ask me two hours ago?”

To avoid this here are 3 Smart Ways to Make Your Boss a Better Communicator.

Career Advancement Secret #6: Share Helpful Industry News And Trends (click to tweet)

Solution: Pass along interesting industry articles and tell your boss how your team can apply them.
Setup RSS feeds for interesting industry blogs and general industry publications.

When you read the article think in your head, think to yourself, “How can our company/team apply this?” Even if your idea isn’t perfect, your boss will appreciate the effort.

Start by sending one article a month and see how your boss/team reacts. Then move to 2-3 times a month. Do not send more than one a week! Be prepared to execute the idea you proposed if your boss likes the idea.  It could be similar to an article you would share with your professional network.

Career Advancement Secret #7: Dress For Success (click to tweet)

Solution: Don’t show up to work looking like you just rolled out of bed.
Dress a little nicer than the recommended dress code.


  • Don’t wear just spandex
  • Extremely short skirts
  • beach flip flops etc


  • Don’t wear ratty jeans
  • Flip flops
  • Sneakers
  • Shirts with holes in them etc.

Clients and potential clients can show up at your office at anytime.

You never know who is going to walk into the office and besides, you will feel more confident about yourself. You also don’t want to turn down networking opportunities that come up after work because you aren’t dressed appropriately.

Career Advancement Secret #8: Keep Your Social Life To A Minimum At Work (click to tweet)

Solution: Put away your cell phone
Set a designated time to check your phone and make sure your friends know. A text here and there is okay, but constantly texting is a sure way to make your boss angry.

If you are waiting for an important phone call because a family member is in the hospital or another reason, just give your boss the heads up, especially if you might have to leave.

Bosses are very understanding in these situations if you are upfront with them.

Career Advancement Secret #9: Ask Your Boss If They Need Help Before You Leave (click to tweet)

Solution: Check in with your boss
15 minutes before you’re getting ready to leave say, “I’m starting to wrap it up, is there anything else I can help you with?”
The best part is that 99 percent of the time your boss will say “no,” but they will always remember that you asked.

It’s a nice thing to do because you’re showing your boss that you want to help them get out of the office. It will also help you with the next tip.

Here are another 5 Things You Should be Talking to Your Boss About.

Career Advancement Secret #10: Plan Tomorrow Before You Leave (click to tweet)

Solution: Plan tomorrow
Spend the 10-15 minutes before you leave getting organized and figuring out which tasks you are going to tackle tomorrow.
This will allow you to get started right away when you arrive at work and give you an advantage over all your co-workers who show up to work and have no idea where to start.

The best part is that you will have peace of mind once you leave the office. Your mind won’t be racing about all the things you have to do tomorrow.

Career Advancement Bonus Secret:  Attend Networking Events (click to tweet)

Solution: Network and connect with industry professionals.
Join industry-related professional associations (if they cost money, ask your company if they will reimburse you).

Most importantly go to industry networking events and tell industry professionals your rock start career story to enhance your personal brand.

Having a strong network gives you options in your career. Instead of having to look for jobs on job boards, people will be coming to you with opportunities.

P.S. Don’t forget to write a networking-follow-up-email.

Now take this newfound knowledge and USE IT to grow your career.

But First, Here’s What I Want You To Do Next…

  1. Comment on this blog post and let me know which tip is your favorite, or a tip that you have used that I didn’t include on the list.
  2. If you found this material helpful, do me a favor and share my 10 secrets every young professional must know to advance their career with just one friend.

That’s it!  There’s no way I can check up on you to see if you did it, but I know you’ll do it.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Jessica

    These are really great tips! It’s refreshing to read such thoughtful advice on forging strong communications with a superior. I recently started doing #10 - planning for tomorrow before you leave - and it’s amazing how much more level-headed and organized it has made me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • John Muscarello

      Thanks for your kind comments Jessica. I love when people share their success! Number 10 is probably my favorite tip. Planning out what I am going to accomplish the next day gives me a clear head after I leave work. It also benefits me in the morning on the way to work because I know I already have a plan to get started.

  • Cindy Mehallow

    Your tips are super! I plan to share them with my twin sons who just graduated from college. And, the advice is applicable to me as a consultant in my dealing with my clients.

    • John Muscarello

      Cindy- that really means a lot to me. What kind of consulting do you practice? If you or you sons ever need any advice please do not hesitate to reach out!

  • Matt Tod

    You really nailed it with this one! As the person who oversees training & development for an organization that is 90% Gen Y, this article answers the question that so many young staff who are just joining the team ask: “How do I be successful here?” I’m definitely going to be sharing this with our staff! Thanks!

    • John Muscarello

      Matt- Thank you for your kind comments. A lot of people forget that it’s the simple things that get you ahead in your career. The things you do day in and day out that make a difference over time. You don’t have to close a big deal, or save the company millions of dollars. You just have to be consistant and do the little things no one else does, everyday.

      I appreciate you sharing the article with your organization. Please feel free to reach out if you or anyone in your organization needs help!

  • Lee Silverstein

    “They” say that when you leave a comment on someones blog you should say more than “great article” etc. As a Director of Career Services for a design college, I have to say “great article.” You nailed it; nothing more to add.

    • John Muscarello

      Hi Lee- That comment means so much to me coming from a career services director. If you or your students every need any help please do not hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to help in anyway possible.

  • Michelle Fish

    My favorite was asking your boss if they need help before you leave.

    • John Muscarello

      Michelle- That is one of the easiest ways to get the attention of your boss, because no one ever does it. It is also a great way to get involved in projects that other people don’t even know about (that is really the biggest advantage).


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