A wooden figure climbs wooden steps.

Getting ahead requires extra effort in many cases. Image source: Getty Images.

It used to be that in many jobs seniority mattered more than performance. That's still the case in a few places, but in most offices or work environments, it takes something special to get noticed.

In many cases doing your job well won't be enough. You have to go above and beyond to get noticed and put yourself in a position to get ahead. That involves more than just working hard. It means making smart investments in your career that show a willingness to do whatever it takes.

If you want to get ahead at work, you need a plan. These are not the only six things you can do that will help, but they will put you on the right path.

A woman raises her hand at a meeting.

Putting yourself up for a job nobody wants is a smart move. Image source: Getty Images.

Volunteer for jobs nobody wants

Sometimes at work the boss asks for a volunteer to do something no person in their right mind would want to do. Perhaps it's working on a weekend or maybe it's taking a business trip to an unpleasant location.

Be the person who says yes to these things. Don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of (so don't volunteer to do personal tasks like picking up the boss' dry cleaning) but be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Adults in a class

Taking a class or just learning a skill from a coworker makes you more useful at work. Image source: Getty Images.

Learn a new skill

In many offices there's a dedicated person who does a certain task or even some jobs that need doing for which nobody has the correct skills. In the first case, be willing to learn how to do what the lone person handles for when they are on vacation or to cover a sick day. In the latter situation, offer to get training in order to fill the need.

This could be as simple as learning how to ship a package or as complicated as getting a new certification. In either case, it should help you not just in this job, but in future ones as well.

A sign that says yes

Say yes and opportunity will come. Image source: Getty Images.

Never say no

If your boss or even just a co-worker asks you to do something, or offers up a chance to be involved with something, always say yes. Be open to participating, trying new things, and generally be a willing participant. This can open up new worlds to you while also building a reputation as someone eager and willing to help out. Going forward that could mean getting asked to do things that others aren't asked about (which can be a blessing or a curse, but is generally good for your overall standing).

A time clock

You may not punch a clock, but you should put in the time. Image source: Getty Images.

Put in the time

Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. That doesn't have to be an everyday thing and you don't have to ignore the rest of your life, but create a reputation for outworking everyone else.

This is not a situation where you should just be in the office in order to get credit for the time. Use the extra hours wisely even if it's as small a gesture as throwing on the first pot of coffee in the morning or something as important as getting a project completed early by working late.

A young woman meets with a mentor.

A mentor can help you avoid work challenges. Image source: Getty Images.

Find a mentor

If you work at a larger company then it can be very helpful to have a person in the organization who helps guide your career. This can be a senior person in a different department who answers your questions on corporate culture and who helps guide your decisions so you end up where you want to go.

Even at a smaller company this type of relationship can be invaluable. A mentor can share the benefit of his or her experience helping you avoid making mistakes. In addition your mentor can be an important endorser if your name comes up for a promotion or new project.

This needs not be an overly formal relationship. It can simply be asking a senior person to coffee every few months or meeting for a drink after work, but the rewards on both sides of the relationship can be significant.

Three workers in an office

Sharing credit liberally makes you a stronger leader. Image source: Getty Images.

Share credit

The best leaders make sure the people who work for them feel valued and rewarded. That's true for people even when they are working as part of a team. Be generous in passing on praise and credit to your coworkers. That will both stop them from resenting you and position you as a leader.

Even if you led the project or did more than your colleagues make sure to celebrate anyone who helped to your mutual bosses. That may seem to deflect credit from you, but it will enhance your overall reputation and status which is more important than credit for any one single project.