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Want to Advance Your Career? Be Proactive

by Katie Moritz
May 11, 2017 | Work

News that extroverts are more likely to have successful careers than introverts would probably make an estimated half the population (yes, there are a lot of introverts out there) roll their eyes. But there's no need to add fuel to an ongoing extrovert vs. introvert feud—research shows that while outgoing people with proactive personalities might have more career success, anyone can adopt certain work habits and reap the same benefits.

It comes down to mentorships: Those who are more outgoing are more likely to seek these kinds of relationships within their work organization, the study found. Developing a close but professional relationship with a person (or people—Harvard Business Review would tell you that you should develop an entire mentor "board of directors") who has worked for the same company longer than you have can help you better understand and navigate the corporate culture and get a leg up on climbing the ladder, giving you a better shot at a successful career.

Proactive pbs rewire

And it could be that modern corporate culture is steering away from the mentorship model. A seven-year Harvard Business School study of personal service firm professionals reported that all the participants older than 40 could name a mentor in their professional lives, but younger workers often couldn't. And Best Buy founder Dick Schulze said during an entrepreneurship competition earlier this year that he believes a lack of mentorship and development opportunities for young people is turning our country away from its entrepreneurial roots. All the more reason to be proactive about it.

How you can be more proactive

By looking at the income, promotions and career satisfaction of 333 employees across different industries who were an average of 30 years old, study author Daniel Turban, a professor at the University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business, and his research team learned that the extroverted ones were generally more successful.

Proactive pbs rewire

But more importantly than your natural tendency toward extroversion or introversion is your behavior, he said to the university.

"Even for those of us who aren't extroverts, there is nothing saying you can't 'fake it until you make it,'" he said.

Here are the researcher's tips for succeeding in your current job and advancing in your career:

  • Surround yourself with helpful people: Seek mentoring relationships and network with others in your industry.
  • Suss out the culture: Be proactive and learn the norms, values and goals of your workplace.
  • Don't wait to be asked: Take responsibility for your career and suggest professional development opportunities to your boss. Volunteer for training and other opportunities for growth whenever possible.
Katie Moritz
Katie Moritz was Rewire's senior editor from 2016-2020. She is a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores and pho. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.
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