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Five Simple Steps to Help You Excel in Your Job and Carve Out a Successful Career for Yourself

How to play to your strengths, broaden your mind and take a leap forward.
By Marissa Ciampi
October 30, 2019
By Marissa Ciampi
October 30, 2019

in partnership with

Knowing how to advance your career isn't always easy. If you're in the early-to-mid career stage and are looking to further your success, you may not even know where to begin. Feeling a bit clueless? Us too.

That's why we've teamed up with Open Universities Australia (OUA) and Sydney career expert and psychologist Suzie Plush, because there's no need to jump in headfirst without any help. Plush talked us through five simple steps you can take to help you excel at your job — whether it be seeking further education, figuring out your strengths or getting out of your comfort zone. Her advice will have you feeling more confident by the second, so here's what we found out.


Suzie Plush


The term 'growth mindset' is just a fancy way of saying "push yourself to learn more". Being a continuous learner is important in many aspects of life, and especially so when you're looking to advance your career.

"Success or intelligence is not a fixed thing," says Plush. "Make sure you're not stagnant in your learning by being really proactive and continuing to develop yourself."

One way to do just that is to sign up for further education, whether it be an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Through OUA, there is also the option of enrolling single subjects from leading Australian universities, if you haven't already got a degree under your belt or just want to dip your toe in before committing to a full degree. There are heaps available via online study — spanning skills such as leadership, digital media, communication, management, finance and marketing. If you continue to cultivate new skills and put your hand up for further learning within your company and outside of it, you're more likely to have an edge and take your career to the next level.cp-line


It is easy to become complacent once you know a role well, but it's always worth leaving room for feeling some discomfort in your career.

"As the saying goes, 'it's insanity to do the same thing and expect a different result'," says Plush. "It's so important to do things differently to what you've done before — to continue to innovate, change things up and stretch yourself for greater opportunities."

This means you shouldn't be waiting around for the next job, opportunity or project to land on your lap. You'll never feel 100 percent ready, but getting out of your comfort zone means taking those steps and leaping in even when you're a little bit scared. That might include developing a new skill set — just a few degrees to consider include a Master of Marketing Management with the University of Tasmania, the Graduate Certificate in Finance with Griffith University and a Bachelor of Arts (Internet Communications) with Curtin University. Plus, you can undertake any of these degrees online through OUA so you can make study fit around your current lifestyle — and not the other way around.

Remember that a little bit of anxiety and adrenaline can be a good thing. To help stop that anxiety from escalating, you can also check out these tips for taking on part-time study.



In an age where everything is digital and online, face-to-face networking is more important than ever — but is all too often neglected.

"It's crucial, now more than ever, to have authentic connections with people," says Plush. "It will make a big difference and really give you that competitive edge. We often feel we are too busy to build relationships, but even little moments like grabbing a coffee are so powerful."

So, the next time your co-worker invites you out for lunch or a hot cuppa, take them up on it instead of always leaving it off to next week. Those little interactions can be game-changing for your career. It is important to continuously keep up your network throughout your career, too — not just when you're looking for a new job. People often underestimate the power of those relationships, though. Many opportunities will come through your network.



This concept may be the simplest of all, but it too gets overlooked. You just need to build a better awareness of yourself.

"Understanding what you're naturally gifted at, and how you can leverage those gifts for greater success, is key," says Plush. "Make sure you are spending more time cultivating your strengths, rather than working on your weaknesses."

No matter what field you work in, there are plenty of courses to help further develop your strengths, including the Graduate Diploma in Project Management with the University of South Australia and a subject in Design Thinking for Business with RMIT University. There are also these Graduate Certificates in Clinical Leadership with Griffith University and Investment Analytics with Curtin University. Griffith University also offers a number of worthwhile single undergraduate subjects including Organisational Communication and Management Strategy and Decision Making. These degrees and subjects, along with many more, are all available to study online through OUA.

Going forward, choose positions and projects that leverage your strengths while taking reference courses that keep building on these. If you want to stand out in your industry, you have to harness it.


Suzie Plush


Finally, we chatted with Plush about the budding concept of 'grit', which is described as perseverance and passion for your longterm goals.

"Out of all the research, 'grit' is the strongest predictor of success," says Plush. "It's actually not the smartest or most popular or most affluent person who gets ahead; instead, it's the person with the most grit, who has the ability to keep going despite challenges, that most often sees career success."

Grit is all about playing a long game and chipping away at your goals like its a marathon, not a sprint. If you consistently work at your career and don't give in to difficulty or adversity, you're much more likely to achieve a significant level of success. This goes hand-in-hand with making sure you have a good balance in your life, and that you're looking after your mental health and stress levels, too.

"In order to look after that long game view, you have to pace yourself, look after your health and know when to prioritise work — but also when to not get too caught up in it."


Explore hundreds of degrees from leading universities, available online through Open Universities Australia. You'll be working your way up the career ladder before you know it. 

Published on October 30, 2019 by Marissa Ciampi
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