How to progress within a competitive work environment

With the final season of Game of Thrones premiering this evening I thought a discussion on the career ladder and finding the fastest route through the chaos was timely!

Career progression can take many forms. Sometimes career progression requires a job change, sometimes it’s reliant on someone more experienced within your workplace moving on and sometimes it’s entirely dependent on your job performance.

Regardless of how opportunities ultimately present themselves, there are still several career management techniques that should persist near the front of your thoughts as you go about your day to day responsibilities.

There are a significant number of variables outside of your control that have a material impact on your ability to move up the corporate ladder, but there are many variables that rest firmly within your own control and which you need to take ownership of to ensure the best scope for career progression.

Know your achievements

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Discussing and highlighting achievements is an exercise I go through with job seekers on a daily basis. Sometimes they are self-evident (achieving financial targets / KPIs) and sometimes they are less obvious. This process is complicated in the sense that many people when reflecting on their job performance fail to emphasise achievements simply because they view them as just another part of the job.

If you delivered an important project for your employer, were given additional responsibilities or identified and implemented some form of process improvement these are all evidence of high performance and worthy of note. No one else is going to highlight your wins in business so it’s important to take stock from time to time and be able to communicate them in terms of what was done and what was achieved. These are excellent examples to bring into a review with your employer or an interview with a potential future employer.

Know your competitors

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Sometimes you are in direct competition within your workplace for limited more senior positions but there is a wider market that you should also always be mindful of. Being aware of who is doing your job in similar brands is a useful exercise for two reasons.

Firstly – if the organisational chart in your current role doesn’t make for pleasant reading in the context of your internal career path, then vacancies left by your competitors suddenly might become a more viable option for you in terms of providing a faster lane to drive in.

Secondly – your competitors act as a useful benchmark for you. The environments may not be comparable and ultimately your progression could outpace those around you, but if the circumstances are otherwise and you find those with similar experience are pushing on a bit faster, it might be a needed spur to prick the sides of your intent.

Be Reliable

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I have worked with hundreds of hiring managers, companies and employers and the one word I regularly use to describe the ideal job applicant is ‘reliable’.

Employers naturally gravitate towards consistency when contemplating rewards and progression and if you are consistent in terms of overall job performance and conscientious in terms of project or task delivery, then you are placing yourself in the best possible position to move up. Managers and employers will look at track record when assessing future performance and if you’ve always been seen as a safe pair of hands then you are going to be trusted with additional responsibility.

Delivering on larger pieces of work is also a great item to put on your CV, it contextualises your experience and provides you with something objective to highlight and discuss at interview.


Sometimes career progression is something that takes care of itself but taking ownership of your career at an early stage means being mindful of your wins, learning from your losses and knowing who your competition is both in the immediate sense and in the wider market.

Doing all of these things ensures that you are less at risk of standing still and reduces the chance that you will miss out on opportunities that might enhance your career and profile.

For further reading visit legal jobs Ireland, “How to progress within a competitive work environment” was written by Robert Connolly, Director – Legal & Compliance.