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This one skill can get you miles ahead at work

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 22 Nov 2021

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What do you want to get out of your current role? Do you see yourself working in this role for a long period of time or do you want to progress further in the company you currently work for? There are always new things to learn and new skills to perfect as you make your way through your career. There are going to be some things that are easier to learn than others but learning new skills and obtaining healthy work habits is what’s going to get you that future promotion. In this case, the skill that can really help push your career is initiative.

Using your initiative isn’t always as easy as you think. You need to be aware of what is happening around you, with your own role and others in your team. It is hard and almost impossible to know everything and be on the ball 24/7 but being a bit more vigilant can really help. We’ve got some tips for you on how you can really take advantage of your own initiative to get ahead at work, no matter what industry you work in!


Unfortunately for some of us, using your initiative in the workplace can mean you need to have the confidence to do it. But you don’t need to have bucket loads of confidence to be able to learn this skill. If you have good ideas, use them, share them and don’t be afraid to tell other people about them. If you don’t feel like sharing them verbally, you can always write them down and email them to your manager, whichever way is best for you, just don’t let yourself go unrecognised because you lack confidence sometimes.

Self-confidence is something people work on for years at a time, and it won’t happen overnight. However, if you have a truly good idea that you need to bring up, if the idea is good enough, you’ll hopefully have the confidence to shout about it. Initiative is all about getting things done on your own or when other people don’t think of it, so if you have a good and realistic idea, why not share it?

Inquisitiveness equals initiative

Asking questions is a good way to help you use your initiative at work. Being inquisitive can help you understand what’s going on around you so you can observe what’s happening in your company and even your team. You may not have the opportunity to talk to everyone on your team every day but make the effort to try.

If you ask question, you might pick up on things that other people haven’t, and you might be in a position to make positive changes to your workplace or the way you do things. I’m not talking about moving the office bin to a more desirable place – I’m talking about actual organisational changes that can have a positive long-term affect.

Don’t wait for opportunities

If you want to get ahead at work, you should be trying to do more than just the bare minimum. Some days you might just want to do your work and go home, this is okay. However, some days try and push a little further if you can, show your team that you are here to help and ready to learn. Some days will be boring but try to ensure that you enjoy your work, and you are making the most of your time there.

Are there any extra tasks you can take on? (If you have the time, don’t spread yourself too thin) Have you been offering to help colleagues with their workload if you have some spare time? Are there any projects you can get involved with? If it can help you generate visible results, do it. As long as it doesn’t impact negatively on your current workload then it can’t hurt your career. Be vigilant when offering to help out your colleagues. They are capable of doing their role, just let them know that you are a helping hand.  

Change your tactics

What is your approach to work? Are you an avid list maker, do you improvise each day, do you do everything via email? Sometimes changing the way you work can be really beneficial to helping you use your initiative. Make more phone calls – go to a colleague’s desk to talk something through rather than do everything by email. (or video call them if you’re working remotely) The changes don’t have to be big ones; sometimes smaller variations can make a real difference.

Taking the initiative can be challenging, but this is a good thing! If you take the initiative and you’ve barely had to do any work, that’s lucky. Not all ideas can be dealt with easily. Always be prepared to look out for opportunities. They may seem difficult, but don’t turn them down because they’re a potential hassle. Once you’ve done a challenging task that gains results you’ll feel a great sense of achievement that you’ve voluntarily worked hard on something that someone else may have turned down. Their loss can be your success!

Don’t forget, objectives you manage to achieve through using your initiative can be great talking points for your CV or cover letter. Employers want specifics of where you’ve done something great, so your initiative-taking can lead to better things elsewhere if it doesn’t get you where you want to be in your current role. Make sure to keep notes of your achievements as you go along, because when you do go back to looking for another job, you don’t want to forget things.