What's holding you back?

You've ticked every professional box: you've got all the right credentials, qualifications, and experience you need to get that promotion. Yet, you're still finding it hard to reach those dizzying heights in your career. So why are you falling short? Believe it or not, it could be the smaller things that are holding you back. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the common habits and traits that could be stalling your progression.

You lack self-confidence

Would you describe yourself as a confident person? It may seem like an odd question, but your self-perception could play a major role in the progression of your career. One study from the University of Melbourne found a link between having confidence at work and occupational success.

While some people seem to naturally exude self-esteem, the rest of us mere mortals can find it hard to bolster ourselves. Luckily, confidence can be a learnt trait. If you're struggling, try reminding yourself of your accomplishments and value on a daily basis. You could write down these points in a journal or simply repeat them to yourself each morning.

You're naturally modest

Screaming and shouting about your achievements simply isn't British ‒ it doesn't quite feel right. When faced with a professional compliment, most of us are more likely to make a self-effacing joke than graciously accept it. While modesty is a healthy trait, it could be holding you back when it comes to getting a promotion.

If you want people ‒ i.e. your managers ‒ to remember your achievements, you can't shy away from them. That's not to say that you should bring up your accomplishments at every turn, but occasionally alluding to them or mentioning your success is a smart move. Don't be afraid to sing your own praises now and then as it could help you to get places in your career.

You don't dress for success

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. It may sound like a cliché, but there is truth to that statement. Donning a suit may be the difference between landing that promotion or staying exactly where you are. While new threads could change the way your co-workers and managers see you, the power of this tip runs far deeper.

Research published in the Social Psychology and Personality Science journal suggests that your work attire could affect your mindset and productivity. The study found that wearing formal clothing helped participants improve their cognitive brain function. That means that choosing to dress well could literally make you better at your job, which is certain to increase your chances of gaining a promotion.

You qualify your opinions

"I think that this would probably be the best plan." "I kind of had an idea in mind."

What's wrong with these statements? When you use language like "probably" and "kind of," you're qualifying your opinions. While many of us use these words to soften the blow of what we're saying or avoid coming across as controlling, they could be doing us a real disservice.

In short, using these qualifiers simply makes you sound unsure of your own opinion. When bosses are looking to promote someone internally, they want someone who can take charge. That means the candidate needs the courage of their convictions so they can lead. The more you use language that makes you sound unsure, the less you fit the bill.

You're too content at work

Are you comfortable in your current job? If the answer is yes, you might find it hard to gain the promotion you deserve. Should you appear to be well-suited to your current position and look as though you're going nowhere, there's no reason for your boss to promote you. Put simply, you have to showcase the fact that you want to progress ‒ and fast.


Ready to make some positive changes at work? If you're hoping to advance your career, addressing these small (but significant!) problems could be the way to go. After all, you should give yourself every possible advantage when it comes to seeking a promotion.

Still not getting the promotion? It may be time to look elsewhere. Start your job search off with a free CV review to see how you stack up.

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