Both you and your coworker, Cathy, excelled at assignments, shared similar responsibilities, and were seemingly on fast parallel tracks. Except she just got promoted while you’re left in a holding pattern.

When you ask your boss about it, you’re politely encouraged to “keep on doing what you’re doing.” But, you’d rather be doing what she’s doing. So, what exactly is she doing?

It’s time to take a close look at how you show up in the workplace — meaning the persona you project and how others view you as a coworker or employee. You may unknowingly be holding yourself back.

Consider what characteristics could be putting the brakes on your career advancement, using these tips to move onto the fast track to a promotion.

  1. Earn relationship currency with coworkers. Keeping your head down and staying on top of assignments isn’t enough to get ahead. Conversely, playing the office clown or coming off as too laid back may mark you as unworthy for moving up. Playing well with others by always being personable and respectful to coworkers, superiors, and subordinates is a must. Try to maintain a positive demeanor in the face of stressful situations, always striving to keep things light. A positive, upbeat attitude makes you more likely to be promoted. Superiors and coworkers notice your positivity and want to work with you. Also, keep a lid on negative remarks and office gossip. People who engage in the rumor mill are rarely trusted.
  2. Break away from an outdated version of yourself. Has your manager pigeon-holed you as a less accomplished version of yourself -— before you were promoted from your assistant position or before you earned your new degree? Or, do your coworkers still equate you with a mistake you made in the past? It’s time to put the new you front and center. Don’t hesitate to speak to those who haven’t recognized your progress. Give them concrete examples of what you’ve accomplished or how you’ve improved. Help them reshape how they view you.
  3. Become your boss’s go-to person. While no one can fault your work, you may not have exerted yourself as someone eager to go above and beyond what’s required. Strive to earn a reputation as a can-do worker. Consistently go the extra mile in your work, striving for excellence instead of mediocrity. If you get out ahead of your boss, don’t take a coffee break or answer personal emails. Instead, ask to take on more assignments or to be given extra responsibility. Volunteer for any new project. If you can develop a reputation for dependability and quality in your work, your superiors will see you as ready to move up to the next level.
  4. Analyze your outward appearance. Always dress for success, patterning your work attire on the office management’ dress style, not the relaxed wardrobe of the junior employees. Pay attention to hygiene and etiquette. Showing up unpressed and untucked sends a subliminal message that you’re equally apathetic in your work habits.
  5. Put in the extra time. Bosses notice when employees watch the clock and charge out the door when the second-hand hits 5:00. Whenever possible, strive to arrive early and stay as long as it takes to meet deadlines or put the final polish on projects. Make your workday unvaryingly productive. If you have children to pick up or a college night course to attend, let the boss know in advance. Offer to turn in any of the day’s uncompleted assignments later in the evening or before start-of-work the next morning.
  6. Ask to receive. If you believe you’re deserving of advancement, let your boss know you’re ready for the next challenge. Showing humility is a good thing, but know when to point out your accomplishments. Don’t assume your work will speak for itself. Make your case by describing your contributions to the department and overall bottom line. Share how your experience and achievements have positioned you for the next round of promotions. Don’t leave out the salary bump you’re looking for, but do your homework on the industry average of your desired position, so you don’t overreach.
  7. Target a new supervisor. If it becomes apparent that your boss doesn’t respect you or isn’t willing to champion your advancement, it may be time to look elsewhere. Perhaps it’s possible to make a move to another department within the company or to aim your campaign for promotion at your boss’s boss. If you decide to pursue a new promotion outside your current company, you’ll need to find a superior who can provide a positive recommendation if your boss isn’t inclined to do so. It may mean targeting Cathy, your former colleague, as your advocate.