This one skill will get you miles ahead at work

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 10 Dec 2015

There are always new things to learn as you make your way through your career. Whether it’s learning to get rid of old habits or obtain new ones, whatever level we are during our careers, there’s always a new skill that can make our jobs easier, more productive and overall a lot better.

miles ahead

In this instance, the skill that will get you miles ahead (or kilometres if you’re that way inclined) is the superpower I like to call the initiative.

Using your initiative isn’t always as easy as you think. However, I’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. If you’re not the most confident person, don’t worry. If you have good ideas, tell someone you know well or write them down and email them to your manager. If you don’t have the best relationship with your manager, perhaps tell someone who can help you get your idea off of the ground. 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!

Ask- 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. 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. 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, doing the bare minimum required of you won’t get you far enough. Are there any extra tasks you can take on? 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 generates 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. You don’t want to give them the impression that you’re trying to put them out of a job, so tread carefully. 

Change your tactics

How do you tend 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. You might pick up on a few things that will get you noticed. 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.