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​Is Hard Work Ever Enough in Modern Business?

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How many times have you watched The Apprentice or a similar business-oriented program and heard the contestants talk about hard work and dedication? Let’s be honest, most of us will say what we need to in order to get ahead - but how much of it is true? And how often is hard work really reflected in career progression?

In this article we tackle a very simple question - is hard work enough to earn promotion and the professional accolades you think you deserve?

The ‘hard work’ myth

Once upon a time, companies across every corner of every industry heralded and rewarded the ‘stay-late-rs’ and the ‘overtime-workers’. So much so that business seemed for completely ignore the reality of good time management and how those who best utilise their time are not only healthier but also more productive during the workday. As workers continued to stay later and work more over the weekends and holidays, it seemed like hard work was about the time you put into the job rather than the effort and productivity you pulled out of your work.

Now, times are changing. Marketing Recruiters and companies alike are putting more emphasis on selling a work-life balance to candidates and showcasing opportunities for both progression and professional development for employees.

Meanwhile, our very definition of hard work is changing. No longer relegated to output and financial success, hard work is about how much energy a candidate or employee can bring to the role - creating a productive environment which enables the business to thrive.

So, if what we mean by hard work is changing, then what is it that employees and candidates really need to do if they want to thrive and rise up the ranks in a certain business or job role?

Goodbye hard work, hello…


The single most important thing you can do if you want to bolster your professional development, workplace position, or career, is earn the respect of your colleagues - both above and below you professionally. When people respect you, they like you - they trust you to handle things which are important, and they believe in your ability to achieve and thrive under new challenges.

This means showing yourself to be a strong leader and a supportive team members - with one of the best things you can do for your career development being a focus on your position within the broader team and company. Some things you can do include:

•Offering to support other colleagues, especially new recruits

•Connect with people at work on a personal as well as a professional level

•Be careful to bridge the gap between management and ground level employees - don’t appear to be two one-sided on either end of the scale, or you will end up isolating those at the opposite end

Transparent, regular communications

Everyone works hard - you’re not alone. So, instead of focussing on the amount of work you do, focus on communicating your achievements frequently and regularly. It isn’t enough to work hard but quietly for a year, and then speak up at the end of the year when promotions are being considered. To really succeed, you need to be the first person that springs to mind all year round - and that means being completely transparent and consistent in your communication.

We recommend creating regular updates that you can forward to a boss, and which can be repurposed into job role achievements and workplace successes when handed over to marketing recruiters or recruiting agency.

Clear and concise achievements

When applying for a new job or seeking an internal promotion or pay rise, it’s important for modern day candidates and employees to put their achievements in context and communicate them in a clear and concise way. Let’s be honest, your manager isn’t going to read a blow by blow account of everything you’ve done for your workmates, and a recruiter isn’t going to understand what it means when you say you managed certain challenges in your current workplace - unless you put it into clear context.

Don’t just say what you did - let them know why it matters.

Remember that nobody owes you anything

Let’s be honest - nobody else is going to take care of your career for you, so everything you do should be in support of your own progression, development, and work-life balance and wellbeing.

Yes, some of this may require a refocus on different areas of your role and may even see you embracing a different approach to work, but in time you will find that broadening your horizons away from merely “working hard” will support your career progression in the long run - both in your current company and in relation to future opportunities.