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Stop, Collaborate and Listen: Career Advancement Tips for Everyone

Stop, Collaborate and Listen: Career Advancement Tips for Everyone

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By Leia O’Connell, MSW, GCDF
Contributor and Career Coach, APUS

I fully admit that this post was inspired by Vanilla Ice; the wisdom was released in 1990 and still holds true today. If you feel like your career isn’t moving forward, I’m here to help you with some key tips.


  • Focusing only on your day-to-day tasks and start building your own opportunities. You’re the expert in your own goals and the best person to create a project or make a connection which will help you further your professional career.
  • Avoiding self-reflection – taking the time to write out your career goals will help increase your self-accountability. Putting your goals on paper is the first step to achieving them! The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) created a very helpful Career Path Worksheet you can use to start planning out your path.
  • Having an unfocused job search; this is very unlikely to be successful. Start looking at companies you might want to work for, instead of just roles. Learn everything you can about them, make contacts and start thinking about where you could fit in.


  • Professional opportunities are often created through collaboration. You work on a group project and down the line, one of your project members recalls your work ethic and asks if you’re interested in another opportunity.
  • The broader your network, the more contacts you’ll have to call on when you’re looking to move up.
  • Teamwork is a critical career advancement skill. Every manager, supervisor and executive will tell you that if you can’t work in a team, you won’t be able to move up. Do you work well in a group setting?
  • I was recently told, “It’s not who you work FOR who will help you get your next job, it’s who you work WITH.” This has been true for me many times over — make positive connections with your colleagues now; a good referral may help to advance your career later on.


  • Listening is underrated and can be the key to moving ahead. Do you listen to your staff, your colleagues, your customers? It’s great to have ideas; the best ones will come from dedicated listening.
  • Pausing to listen before you speak could help you avoid an embarrassing moment in the office, which you can’t take back. Those who listen and then speak thoughtfully tend to be the most respected.
  • While others are talking, you’re listening and gathering information. You never know what you’ll hear when you’re just being quiet. The right opportunity for career advancement might just appear if you listen for it.

As you look over these career advancement tips, start thinking about the next step you’re going to take on your journey. Every step is one foot closer to your goal!

Learn about degree programs at American Public University.