5 Tips to Build Your Career

The corporate ladder can be very unstable, so we rounded up some of the best on-the-job advice to help you keep moving up. By Bianca Male

Act Like a Boss

Consistently step up whenever you have the opportunity to take charge. An unstable economy offers sporadic chances for upward mobility - if your manager is fired, you should make a move immediately. Bob Calandra, coauthor of How to Keep Your Job in a Tough Competitive Market, provides this script: "I'm not looking to be promoted, but I also recognize no one wants chaos. I know the ins and outs of my boss's job, so feel free to tap me for any of her work while we're in this transitional phase." Don't appear as though you expect something in return, and you might just get it.

Find an Advocate Inside the Company

Who's going to fight for you when that office opens up? Building a close relationship with someone within your company who can fight for you is crucial for your professional growth. "A mentor's great, but a mentor can't get you a raise," says Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks. "You need an advocate inside your company, putting a halo over you that equates to promotions, raises, and responsibility."

Don't Undersell Yourself at the Negotiation Table
You'll only block your own advancement if you sell yourself short. "My salary situation at Morning Joe wasn't right," says MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. "I made five attempts to fix it, then realized I'd made the same mistake every time: I apologized for asking. Also, I didn't really know my value, so I didn't know what to ask for." Prove yourself, then confidently ask for what you want and deserve.

Switch to an Industry That's Growing

If your industry is floundering and there's little room for growth, make a career switch to an industry that's booming. A few rare sectors that are doing more hiring than firing include engineering - techie grads are hot now that renewable energy is what everyone's talking about - as well as healthcare, information technology, education, and government.

Be Honest with Yourself About Your Career Goals

Is your boss's position really your dream job? Or do you actually want to be your own boss? If you've been moving up the corporate ladder but you're not loving what you do, entrepreneurship could be the next best step for you. Be honest with yourself and take the time to assess what you want out of your career.

Get More: See other tips to build your career.

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