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Tips on how to improve your career prospects

There’s more than one way to progress in your career.   

Sometimes you might need to find a new employer if you want to earn more or progress.  

But in most cases a sensible first step is to talk to your current employer to find out what they can offer. This could be working more hours, earning more money by taking on additional responsibilities or changing your working pattern to suit you better. 

Here are some ideas to help you speak to your manager about your career options.  

Having an open and honest conversation with your employer: 

Having honest conversations with your boss can be tricky. However, it’s part of their role to guide you at work, and this involves discussing your career progression. Remember they want you to fulfil your potential and deliver more for the business too.   

Below are some steps you can take to get the best out of the conversation: 

  • Set time aside – so you and your boss can have a conversation without interruptions.
  • Be prepared – have a notepad with the things you’d like to discuss, like taking on extra duties, working more shifts, or doing some training so you have more to offer the business. Keep a record of any key points that come from the discussion.
  • Keep an open mind – some employers may not be able to offer what you are asking for immediately, so be open to alternatives they might suggest.
  • Research the options the company could offer – find out what career progression opportunities or skills development they could offer, like apprenticeships or training courses.
  • Keep the career progression conversation going – if your employer knows you’re looking for more hours or extra shifts, or that you’d like extra responsibilities to help you progress, they can keep you in mind when opportunities arise.

How to boost your skills and experience whilst in work: 

  • Ask your employer for more hours and responsibility in your role – employers are usually willing to give more hours to employees if they can. It shows that you are committed to the job, but also means you have more time to practise the skills you need to progress.
  • Enrol on free training courses to enhance your skills in your current role – ask your employer if they offer any of these services or look online.
  • The careers service in your area also provide free resources – the National Careers Service in England, My Work of Work in Scotland, Careers Wales or the Careers Service in Northern Ireland.
  • Use our Skills for Work Finder to see which skills and training opportunities might be right for you.
  • Find a workplace mentor – mentors can offer advice on career progression from first-hand experience. Colleagues are often very eager to help and give advice.
  • Volunteering – to show your employer you are ready and have the skills to progress, you could think about volunteering outside of work. As well as helping your local community, this can help you learn new skills or boost your existing ones.
  • Write a plan for your personal development – this is a great way to set out your future career goals. Your plan can also help in meetings with your employer, to help career progression conversations.
  • Build a network with your colleagues and/or current employees – this can help you understand different career paths.

If you need extra support whilst looking to progress at work: 

Contact your local Jobcentre to ask about access to the support offer to help you progress in work, consider talking to your employer about progression and think about improving your skills.

If you already claim benefits, and want to progress further in your career to earn more money, take a look at the helping you to earn more from work page.

If you would like to progress and earn more money, but are worried about how it will affect your existing benefits, you can get free financial advice from Citizens Advice (external website).