How to advance your career

I’m often asked, “what should I do to get ahead in my company?” My response is always multifaceted starting with “are you familiar with the performance evaluation process at your company”?

Unfortunately, many employees do not know how to use their company’s performance evaluation system to advance their careers and typically just experience their reviews as a one-way process with their immediate superior telling them what they think of their work output and accepting whatever compensation increase they will receive.

The performance evaluation process is a powerful tool to determine two critical factors in your career:

  1. How am I doing in relation to the requirements in my job description? If you are not exceeding those requirements, then you need to inquire as to what you need to do to achieve – “exceeds requirements.”
  2. Based upon your performance evaluation, what opportunities for advancement are there for me and by when?

If the answers to these questions aren’t favorable and encouraging, then you should seriously consider whether continuing to stay with the company or not.

Otherwise, you can easily get stuck in an unfulfilling job with declining financial security. With ever increasing costs of living these days, you can find yourself with less and less money to live comfortably.

You should always be inquiring with your boss as to “how am I doing?” Ask at least quarterly instead of waiting for your annual anniversary. This gives you the opportunity to improve if necessary, before your annual performance review. Likewise, if your boss says that you are doing a good job then that should be worth more at the end of each year of your employment.

Another important thing to do is to offer to take on additional responsibility. Most employees do not do this so it’s another opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to advance within the company. Along these lines you also need to demonstrate a sense of urgency in getting things done, which is another example of your motivation and interest in advancing with the company.

You should also be looking for problems that you can solve to improve operations. This is another way to demonstrate leadership potential and interest in saving costs for the company.

It’s been demonstrated in a variety of research studies that the majority of employees in many companies are “not engaged” in their jobs. As a result, all the things that you can do to demonstrate your engagement and willingness to assume more responsibility will result in advancing your career with more annual incremental compensation.

Get started today inquiring as to “how am I doing?” “What else can I do?” “What’s next for me with the company?” Otherwise, you will fall into the familiar one-way annual performance review with another repetitive year of unfulfilled work with less money to deal with the increasing costs of living.

It’s your life and your career. Take control of your destiny or else someone else will.

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at or visit his website at