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27 Tips To Boost Your Career In 2015

Be the boss.

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1. Be direct and open about your ambitions.

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Don’t be embarrassed to make your intentions clear. As empowerment coach and speaker Jodie Rogers tells BuzzFeed Life:

"Don’t assume that your bosses know your intentions. Be very clear about what you want and make sure you have a date set for when you want to achieve it by, e.g. 'I want to be promoted by September 2015.'

"Then the next important step is to ask your boss, 'What do you believe I need to do or achieve in order to make this happen?' By doing this you are both stating your ambition and allowing them to set the measurement. If you’ve achieved everything by that date it will be much harder for a boss to move the goalposts."

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2. Adopt a power pose.

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Changing your stance is another way of faking confidence. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains in a TED talk how "power poses" can affect testosterone and cortisol in the brain as well as influencing people's perceptions of you.

She conducted studies in which subjects were made to adopt powerful poses – such as placing their hands on their hips – before stressful or difficult situations and found they coped much better. So next time you have that big meeting, take two minutes, hide in the toilet, and pose like you mean it.

3. Drink a lot of coffee.

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Coffee dates are a great way of sounding out careers. If you've done your research and there's a person you admire or whose job you want to find out more about, don’t be shy ask them if they want to meet up over a coffee. Most people will be flattered by your initiative and happy to share any pearls of wisdom or answer any questions.

There's a number of networking schemes in the UK that make it easy to connect, from Women in Business to the Athena Network (also for women) and the London Chamber as well as nationwide sites like Find Networking Events. It should be easy to find the perfect networking event for you to meet like-minded people.

4. Create your own squad.

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Creating a network of people is important, Shannon Edwards, the CEO of "shopping discovery engine" Styloko, tells BuzzFeed Life.

"Build and cultivate a circle of mentors and of mentees," she says. "Going beyond the always-good advice of not burning bridges, it’s critical to seek out and keep close to you talented people. These are the people who will support, teach, and lead alongside of you as your career grows."

5. But don't forget that your peers are just as useful.

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"People always look for senior mentors but I've always got brilliant support and advice from my peers," Sarah Drinkwater, the head of Google's Campus London, tells BuzzFeed Life. "Not only do they understand my very new field of work better, but they're more accessible."

Writer Ann Friedman advocates Shine Theory, which she sums up thus: "When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better."

Becoming a cheerleader for your peers can have great knock-on effects for you.

6. Unleash your inner detective.

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Unleash your inner snoop and do some detective work on your dream job or industry. Research your future career by interviewing people currently working in it.

Rogers says we should "ask them why they chose the career, how did it meet their expectations, what was different than how they had imagined. Most importantly, ask them, if they were to do anything differently in terms of their career, what would it be?"

Use LinkedIn to look at people’s career paths and how they made it to where you want to be.

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7. Think big!

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But act small. Have a big goal? Jodie Rogers says it's time to break things down: "Break the goal down into its component parts, then break each of those down into smaller goals, put them in chronological order and start at the beginning. If you want to run a marathon in August, you can break that down into many other goals: running progress, diet, weight, equipment etc.

"Each of these can be taken and broken down further. Taking diet, you could look at what runners need to eat to gain strength, what are the slow-releasing foods, what foods should runners avoid, what juices, smoothies, and supplements are best for joint nourishment and muscle recovery."

Breaking these big goals into smaller components makes achieving them feel a lot less daunting.

Planning is also a large part of work-related goals, Rogers says. "For starting a business, goals might be: Write a business plan, speak to bank about loans and investments, do market research, complete a competitor analysis, create products, research and plan pricing." This planning time is just as important as the execution.

8. Make a date.

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Get your smaller goals into the diary to get them done. "The fundamental difference between a dream and a goal is a date," Rogers says. "Once you put a date on something it moves it from concept to reality. It also creates a greater sense of urgency. We all work better with deadlines."

Want to study alongside work? Block out non-negotiable time if your diary. Once it's written down, you're much less likely to flake.

9. Always consider how your work fits into the company as a whole.

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"No matter what industry you are in, there is a bottom line and a company goal that everyone's work rolls up into," Edwards tells BuzzFeed Life.

"And no matter what your level or individual contribution (no role is too insignificant in this respect), your success will be in understanding how what you do contributes to this bottom line. Keep an eye on that and you have a leg up in building a career."

10. Stretch yourself.

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"'Fake it till you make it' is a phrase that has served me well over my 20-year career," says Edwards.

"You need to stretch yourself (and your business, if a small-business owner) to where you want to be, and not rest in complacency at the place you are. If you ‘act’ strong, smart, successful – even if it feels like a stretch – you will catch up."

11. Use the power of daydream.

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Find your direction by daydreaming. Rogers tells BuzzFeed Life that we should be picturing our perfect life to see where it takes us: "If you’re not sure of your direction, imagine what your perfect day or week would look like. What are you doing?"

Writing on Finding Your Purpose, Rogers says we should take some time to understand ourselves, using two key questions: "Who am I, and what type of life do I want to have?" Examine your beliefs, values, and what excites you.

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12. Get learning.

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Where can you upgrade your skills? "Do your research as there are so many good sources of advice and education out there," Drinkwater tells BuzzFeed Life. "At Campus we have free events every day on everything from launching a start-up to improving your social media skills."

If you find a particular course or day session that would benefit your career, your boss is much more likely to agree than if you make a vague request for training.

13. Don't wait for things to happen.

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It's all about getting stuck in, Drinkwater explains. "Whether asking for a raise or making a complete career change, you learn best by doing. Nobody knows what you're capable of better than you, so trust your judgment and your gut."

What can you do right now to get you on the right path?

14. Find the right balance.

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Take opportunities but don't lose focus – it's all about balance. "Learning when to say yes and when to say no is important, and one I'm still working on," Drinkwater says. "At certain times in your career, the more you say yes, the more opportunities you'll have or even create – whether that's going to an event on your own or asking someone to have coffee with you.

"But you've got to balance that with saying no to anything that takes away your focus from what you're trying to do."

15. Ask yourself whose path you're on.

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Are you looking to get a big promotion or land a job to please your parents or for the recognition of your peers?

Learn to separate your own feelings of success from others and you’ll be better equipped to define success and what it means to you. It’s fine to do things to please others, but distinguish what you want from what others expect of you.

16. Copying is a good thing.

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Look at the people you consider successful in your workplace or industry. What is it they do that makes them so successful? Do they rely on face-to-face communication to get things done? Do they have a kickass set of stats ready for every meeting? Observe the people you look up to and examine what makes you put them on a pedestal.

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17. Nail your look.

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Aesthetics matter. Whether it’s for practicality reasons (more time in bed) or because you want to create a signature look that chimes with your personality, prepping a few fail-safe basics is always a good idea. Find a uniform that works and stick to it.

For women in creative industries, something like jeans, sharp block-heel boots, and a luxe-y knit can work well, or for more formal workplaces, loafers, cigarette pants, and a shirt makes for an unbeatable look.

Get a rundown of some of the best places to stock up on workwear staples here.

18. Don’t always do what you love.

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"Do what you love" is often touted as the path to happiness, but sometimes living a fulfilling life means finding something secure that leaves you enough time for your hobbies.

A passion project doesn't always lead to financial success, and you might find that a job that pays the bills leads to a happier, more stable life. Rachel Nabors talks here about her journey from doing what she loved (making comics) to pursuing a successful career in web development. "If I’d kept 'doing what I love' in the industry that didn’t love me back," she writes, "I would have never realized that there are other, more profitable, things I love."

19. Look for a new job even if you don’t want one.

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Looking through job descriptions even if you’re not wanting to change can help you plan for your career future. Stay on the lookout for any skills or competencies you might need to acquire so you're not feeling behind when the time to take the next step comes.

Say you're a junior designer – checking out studio manager jobs can give you some insight into the skills and software you need to brush up on. Even if you're just starting out as an admin assistant, looking at HR manager or project coordinator roles can give you motivation and direction for your next role.

20. When your dream job isn't your dream job.

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Marketing strategist, writer, and entrepreneur Megan Macedo warns people to be wary of so-called dream jobs. She tells BuzzFeed Life:

"Landing your dream job is what everyone talks about, but most people have no idea what their dream job is. And others get their dream job only to realise it's not so great. I got my dream research job after finishing my geology degree, and within weeks realised it was not the career for me. I went from geologist to marketing strategist in a series of lots of little steps over the next few years."

21. Baby steps matter.

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Baby steps are still important, Macedo says. "I'm not a fan of overly specific long-term goals or five-year plans. Instead, I like to remember the power of a geological timescale – massive transformation happens with a consistent series of small changes.

"No one's career transforms overnight. It's always a culmination of lots of little, seemingly chaotic steps." Take a look around you and see what your first baby step might be.

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22. Find your trouble spot.

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What did you get in trouble for at school? Believe it or not, looking at the things you got told off for is often a good indicator of what you can't help doing and could shed some light on your skills.

Take 30 mins to sit down and write down some of the things you got in trouble for at school and examine how they can be turned into strengths. Whether it was passing notes (communication), being naughty (testing boundaries), or even slacking off, your misbehaviour could give you an indication of what you should be doing in your career.

Marketing guru Perry Marshall recounts how getting fired taught him not to shy away from these fearful spots, but instead to harness them to move his career forward.

23. Be a scientist.

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Don't try to force results, says Macedo. "I treat all this stuff as experiments. Don't focus on outcomes, focus on doing things that will move the story of your career on and see what outcomes arise. The best opportunities find you, not the other way around."

Trying too hard to make something happen can just result in a lot of frustration. "Stop trying to force specific outcomes," she says. "Just conduct your experiments and see what opportunities arise."

24. Don't wait for an invitation.

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Macedo tells BuzzFeed Life that she created her own job by "sticking my nose where it didn't belong and ignoring my job description and chain of command.

"I was always surprised by how much scope there was to make a job what you want it to be – not by asking but by just little by little doing more of what you really want to."

Asking isn't always the best way to get. "You don't have to wait for an invitation to do what you really want to. Just start doing it."

25. Give up.

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You don't have to be great at everything. "Strengthen your strengths," Macedo says. "Focus on what you're naturally good at and like to do. Give up on the things you're not good at or hate doing it – delegate it."

Look at what you can easily delegate to colleagues, or even automate. As the "Website Goddess", Macedo employs a team of web designers and technical wizards so she can focus on what she's good at.

26. Ditch the work.

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Properly recharging your batteries is essential if you want to be on top at work. Plan and make time for holidays, switch off at weekends, and do something relaxing in the evenings such as reading a book or exercising.

Even if a holiday isn't on the cards, just getting outdoors can leave you feeling refreshed and might just help generate that killer idea.

27. Think like a crab.

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Traditional linear careers are more frequently becoming the exception rather than the rule, so don’t be afraid to move sideways rather than up if a job gives you more fulfillment or better life quality.

Take that sabbatical, bargain for a work-from-home day, or ask for some training. The career ladder now goes in every direction.

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