How to advance in your career

Improve your business English with EF English Live and get ahead.

If you’re an ambitious individual, you probably have a career end goal in mind – whether it’s to be a leader in your field or to become a leader in the form of a CEO. Having decided on what you want to achieve, you’re now faced with the hard part: getting there. What does it take to become not just a high-performing individual but a highly successful one?

In essence, it comes down to a few key things:

  • Choosing the right place to work
  • Making yourself valuable
  • Building the right network

For example, an ideal first step towards success is to work for a large global company. International firms provide great scope for advancement and learning – not only do they allow you to try out different roles, with some companies even including this in their induction process – but they also create opportunities to travel and even work abroad. A great example of someone who has achieved success this way is Google CEO, Sundar Pichai who started out as a product manager, led the creation of the Chrome browser, took over the Android phone OS and from there moved on to leading one of the most influential companies in the world.

Of course, employers only offer the biggest opportunities to employees they see as valuable, which means that it’s also vital to ensure you are a valuable asset. While in the past this may have meant becoming the long expert in an important topic, these days, value is more about collaboration and people skills. Companies value individuals who are helpful, willing to share knowledge with others and step in when extra help is needed. Cultivating skills in collaboration, leadership and mentoring are also part of increasing your value – by ensuring you have more to offer than what’s entailed in the scope of your role.

Advance in your career through networking

Networking used to be about gaining personal advantage. But now employers are also starting to appreciate the value of people who have a wide network of high performers they can tap into throughout their career. Business academics such as Raina Brands have written about how formal and informal networks can be instrumental in helping or hindering an individual’s career – but this is one of the trickiest areas in which to excel. While each and every one of us naturally builds up a network around us over the years, ensuring the strength and relevance of that network takes skill. For example, adding contacts on LinkedIn is a great start, but you also need to develop a relationship with those individuals. Sharing information you think might be useful, checking in with contacts to find out how they are doing and offering the benefit of your knowledge and expertise are all ways to strengthen the bond between you and your contacts, ensuring you can draw upon their support throughout your career.

Underpinning all of these steps to success is one very important skill: business English. For example, international firms often prefer candidates who can speak English as their working language is often office English – a convenient way of ensuring all employees can communicate effectively. As a result, having a good command of English can be a way of setting yourself apart from other candidates. Speaking business English is also vital for effective collaboration with colleagues, partners and clients around the world, meaning that those who master it have a distinct advantage. Building up your business vocabulary in English will also put you in pole position for travel opportunities or job transfers, since companies will want to entrust these to employees they feel will settle in easily and work effectively wherever they are. A proficient level of English can also be instrumental in helping you build the widest possible professional network: removing language barriers allows you to make connections with professionals around the world.

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