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10 Work Habits That Will Help You Excel in Your Career

man writing at desk

Careers are dicey things, aren’t they?
 
They’re our means of survival – that alone adds a lot of pressure.
 
And for many of us, they’re the foundation of our self-worth. We gain a lot of confidence, achievement, and self-worth from our jobs.
 
But do you have what it takes to be great at your job?
 
What work habits do successful people have, that other people don’t?
 
As it turns out, there are several. And I’m here to tell you:
 
Performance reviews may only happen once a year, but appraisals happen daily. 

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“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”

– Chris Grosser

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So whether you want a raise or just want to learn how to excel at work, these habits will carry you a long way.
 
 (This post may contain affiliate links. Check out our full disclosure policy here!)
 
So here’s what you do:
 

1. Think About the Skills You Need For the Next Job

Learn the job skills you need for the next job

You’ve heard the saying dress for the job you want, not the job you have, right?
 
Well, in this case, it would be: 
 
Perform for the job you want, not the job you have.
 
It’s no secret that if you want to land a job, you’re going to need the skills to do it.
 
This is why transferable skills are so important.
 
These skills will convince a future employer that you’re the perfect fit, even if you don’t have the experience.
 
So, focus on more than your current job description. 
 
Ask yourself:
 
What can I do better at work? What skills will elevate me to the next level?
 
If you don’t know where to start, look at the higher-ups within your company to see what skills they have.
 
Then do a LinkedIn search for professionals in your field. Take note of what skills and experience they have.
 
This will give you an idea of what you should focus on.

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“People with highly transferable skills may be specialists in certain areas, but they’re also incredible generalists – something businesses that want to grow need.”

– Leah Busque

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2. Get to Know Your Boss

Getting to know your boss is good for your career

Have you ever heard someone say as many business deals get made on the golf course as in the office?
 
Take that to heart.
 
This is one of the best work habits to develop early on in your career. Because if you want to impress your boss, you have to get to know them.
 
Of course, it doesn’t mean you have to be best friends and hang out all the time. But, you can’t make your manager’s life easier if you don’t know what makes them tick.
 
Some people call this realizing that your boss is your job. 
 
Your job is not answering phones, replying to emails, or writing reports.
 
Once you understand this, you can figure out what your boss needs from you – and how to deliver it.
 
If something isn’t at the top of your list but your boss expresses that it’s important – then it should immediately become important to you too.
 
Find out what your boss’s biggest headaches are and make them go away.
 
That’s the fastest way to show how valuable you truly are.

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“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

– Thomas Jefferson

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3. Avoid the "It's Not My Job" Pitfall

Why saying

We’ve all known that one person that’s quick to tell everyone:
 
“That’s not my job,” or “That’s above my pay grade.”
 
Yep, that person.
 
Don’t be that person, because that person sucks.
 
Sorry, let me rephrase.
 
Really sucks.
 
Let’s use an example:
 
Say you play professional soccer and your team has made it to the semi-finals. 
 
There’s a minute left in the game, and you’ve somehow ended up in front of your teams net.
 
But the goalkeeper is nowhere close to where he should be. You’re the only one who can stop the ball from going into the goal.
 
You’re left with two choices:
 
1. Prepare to stop the ball, no matter what.
 
2. Shrug and walk away, allowing the other team to score. Besides, you’re not the goalkeeper, so why should it be your job to stop the ball?
 
Which one do you pick?
 
I’m pretty sure you’d choose the first one. Not only do you want to win, but you don’t want your entire team to be mad at you.
 
How is your workplace any different?
 
Here’s what it comes down to:
 
Being a team player is the basis of great work habits.
 
So if you constantly tell people when something is and isn’t your job, then you’re doing more harm than good.
 
Sure, that attitude can help prevent you from taking on extra work, but it’ll also prevent you from advancing in your career.
 
Why? Because you’ll be labeled as negative, lazy, or unwilling to get the job done.
 
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should pick up everyone’s slack. But, when it comes to helping a coworker out, the people in charge of promoting you will notice your efforts.

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“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” 

– Henry Ford

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4. Network

Two business people shaking hands

If I could only give you one career tip, it’d be this:
 
Upwardly mobile people don’t let opportunities to network slip through their fingers.
 
This is a common career mistake many people don’t even realize they’re making.
 
Look:
 
It’s hard to get promoted if your boss’ boss doesn’t even know who you are.
 
So make it a priority to network with coworkers at all levels within your company.
 
Oh, and that office party that everyone dreads going to? Don’t skip it.
 
Opportunity knocks at the most unexpected times. 
 
And chances are, office parties are usually the most approachable your boss, or your boss’s boss, will ever be.
 
So if you dread networking, chances are you just don’t realize how much you can use it to your advantage.
 
Career growth and advancement are largely about who you know
 
And actually, a recent study found that as many as 70-80% of open positions get filled through networking.
 
Aren’t those odds you’d like to put in your favor?

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“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.”

– Robert Kiyosaki

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5. Keep a Clean Social Media Presence

Having a clean social media is important for your career

Did you know that 70% of hiring directors look at social media profiles before making a hiring decision?
 
Nearly half of employers (48%) check up on current employees on social media.
 
But it doesn’t stop there.
 
A third of employers (34%) have reported reprimanding or firing an employee based on content found online.
 
Yikes. This is about more than just your work habits.
 
While it doesn’t seem fair, it’s still a fact of life.
 
And it begs the question:
 
What does your social media say about you?
 
The easiest way to find out is to search for yourself.
 
Google your name to see if your social media profiles pop up. If they do, see how much information is available to everyone.
 
Here’s how to clean your accounts:
 
  • Revisit your content: Take some time to do a quick sweep of your profiles. Delete any old or inappropriate information that you wouldn’t want a recruiter to see.
 
  • Clean Your Friends List: Back in the day, many people friended anyone and everyone. The more friends you had, the more popular you were, right? But now is the time to cut out all those random people and keep the ones you actually know.
 
  • Edit Your Privacy Settings: Although this doesn’t excuse racy photos or posts, it does let you control who can see your personal information. Ask yourself, “Does a potential employer need to see this?”

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“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

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6. Keep in Touch

Two women talking

Some people only see networking as meeting new people. But, that’s not the case.
 
There’s as much value in keeping in contact with former coworkers as there is in building new professional relationships.
 
Here’s why:
 
  • You’ll Get Referrals. You never know who knows who.
 
  • They Can Mentor You. Even if you don’t work together, a former coworker or manager can still be a great mentor. The time commitment doesn’t have to be excessive, either. 
 
  • You Can Help Fill a Position. At some point in your career, you’ll have someone tell you, “If you know someone please send them my way.” So if there’s an open position within your company, you could help your boss find the right candidate. This makes you look good, too.
 
Keeping in contact with former coworkers is one of the easiest work habits to adopt. It’s as simple as an e-mail saying:
 
Just wanted to say hey and see how you’re doing!”
 
Pretty simple, right? It’s easy and gives you a  great return on your investment.

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“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

– Jim Rohn

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7. Track Your Progress

It's important to track your professional achievements at work

You should always keep a running tally of your professional achievements.
 
Here’s why:
 
  • You’ll be in a better position to negotiate a raise
 
  • It’ll be easier for you to give accurate and concrete examples during performance appraisals
 
  • When you’re networking and interviewing, you’ll have notable examples to share
 
  • You’ll find it easier to update your resume
 
So keep track of your sales results or awesome customer feedback. You’ll be glad you did.

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“Some people dream of success while others wake up and work.”

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8. Watch What You Say

Avoiding workplace gossip

There are two important things to keep in mind with workplace conversation:
 
1. Don’t contribute to the gossip mill
 
2. Keep personal problems out of the workplace
 
If you’ve been in the working world for more than a few months, you’ve probably come across an office gossip at your job. Or two, or three.
 
But it’s no secret that having coworkers you like makes the work-day more enjoyable.
 
It’s a breath of fresh air when your coworkers are easy-going, normal people. Especially when you feel like you can talk about more than just work with them.
 
But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line from normal conversation to oversharing? Or gossiping?
 
It’s harmless to talk to a coworker about how you think Robert might be leaving soon, right?
 
Here’s the thing:
 
It becomes a problem when these conversations become the catalyst for rumors or sneak into malicious territory.
 
And if you aren’t careful, you’ll get labeled as the office gossip – a reputation that won’t do you any favors.

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“Not everything you hear is good for talk.”

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9. Listen to Understand, Not to React

Woman listening in meeting

There’s listening and then there’s really listening.
 
And this isn’t just about work habits – it’s a great life habit.
 
Here’s what it comes down to:
 
When someone is speaking, let them have their turn and listen carefully.
 
Don’t think about how you’re going to respond, instead, try to absorb what the person is saying to you.
 
You can ask questions later.
 
The same applies to taking criticism. The feedback you get at work is valuable.
 
It doesn’t mean someone is criticizing your performance because they dislike you. They’re telling you ways to make it better. 
 
And the saying goes: become so good they can’t ignore you.
 
And how can you do that if you don’t know what areas you should improve on?

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“I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”

– Estee Lauder

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10. Show Up On Time

Someone checking the time on their watch

And not just because it’s the nice thing to do. 

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“You cannot respect someone but disrespect their time.”

― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

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Do you have what it takes to learn how to be a good employee at work? 

Thanks for reading.