Honing your professional skills and being competitive opens up new opportunities for you. However, to surpass your colleagues, you usually must go above and beyond your essential work duties. A well-rounded employee usually has a competitive advantage when he is successful in multiple ways.
Pursue an advanced degree, especially if your employer has tuition reimbursement programs. However, keep in mind that going back to school does not excuse you from performing well in the workplace. A professional degree may take years. Maintain a high level of performance whether pursuing a degree or not.
Obtain certification in your industry if the option exists. The more knowledgeable and credible you are in your profession, the more of an asset you are to your company. To avoid losing you to competitors, your employer may be more willing to offer you additional incentives.
Present ideas to your employer that help you improve sales or efficiency in your department. Have the ideas be ones you can execute or manage yourself without significant input from your boss. Demonstrating to your employer that you are always looking for ways to improve your productivity and take on meaningful responsibility is an appropriate way to maintain a competitive advantage. However, avoid offering ideas that increase the workload of your boss or the budget of the department.
Ask that written praise of you by clients, customers and colleagues be added to your human resource file. Praise can come in the form of an email, handwritten note or performance evaluation. This information is a useful supplement when you present evidence for a raise or promotion.