Future of Work

9 surprising tips for getting ahead in your career

Kathleen Elkins
Editorial intern, Business Insider
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We all know to “go the extra mile,” and to be “the first to arrive and the last to leave.”

Cliché career advice gets old, and ultimately loses it’s significance, so we turned to a recent Quora thread that asked users for advice that no one ever mentions.

Here are 11 of our favorites that you don’t hear every day:

1. Don’t be too loyal — it’s holding you back.

Research shows that people who make the most money are those switching companies, rather than staying put; in fact, staying loyal to your company for two or more years can result in you earning 50% less over your lifetime.

“Most people get too comfortable in their jobs and coast for too long, receiving small, incremental raises,” points out Quora user John Fawkes. “But you can often make bigger jumps by switching companies, especially if you’re good at job hunting.”

2. Don’t be better, just be different.

Sometimes being the best raises red flags. Fawkes puts it nicely: “If you’re ‘better’ than all of your competitors, they shouldn’t even be your competitors; you should be working at a higher level than them, using uniqueness to beat better-qualified.”

3. Be smart about looking at your phone.

“Understand when people see you check your phone at every call, then don’t answer when they call, they then know you put them on a low priority,” points out Mike Leary.

4. Don’t look too busy.

“Ironically the busier you appear, often the less you will move up,” claims user Mira Zaslove. “I’ve seen smart and dedicated employees fail to get promoted because they have taken on too much, are working too hard, and appear too frazzled.”

Don’t miss opportunities for advancement by appearing overly stressed and unprepared to take on more tasks.

5. Publicize your failures.

We’re all aware that failure can offer valuable life lessons and insights, but Zaslove suggests taking this a step further and publicizing your missteps.

“If you show that you are willing to take risks, and publicly falter, your team will feel confident taking risks too.  Lead by example,” she says. “Most people do not view someone as credible if they are giving advice and recommendations, but not walking the walk.”

6. Think twice about what you pack for lunch.

“Never, ever cook fish in the office microwave,” warns Ryan Harvey. You don’t want to be that person.

7. Keep yourself financially educated.

Most of us who didn’t major in economics or go to business school know squat about financial literacy. “You must educate yourself well about money if you aim to become rich in life,” says user Nikant Vohra. To get started, he recommends picking up a copy of “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”

8. Be nice to the receptionist.

This advice is often overlooked or forgotten about, but if you’re interviewing for a job it is crucial to make a good first impression on everyone, including the receptionist.

Quora user Ambra Benjamin refers to the receptionist as the “secret spy of any organization,” as she’s  seen candidates lose out on jobs because word of rude behavior circled back to the hiring manager.

Remember: your interview starts the moment you walk through the front door.

9. Stop listening to advice.

Too much of it, that is. “Too much advice will scare you into starting anything,” says Pauline Somerfield. “It will narrow your mind to aim for ‘perfection.’ Don’t be afraid to be different and challenge existing routines. Give justice to your original creative talent and just do it.”

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Kathleen Elkins is an editorial intern at Business Insider.

Image: A Businesswoman is silhouetted as she makes her way under the Arche de la Defense, in the financial district west of Paris. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann.

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