The Four “A’s” That Impact Your Career Advancement

Don't get overlooked for opportunities because you lack the characteristics needed to seal the deal

four skills
(Image: iStock/donskarpo)

While many have earned extensive education and experience in various career fields, oftentimes they are overlooked for opportunities because they lack professional characteristics such as the right attitude, ability to adapt to different environments/people, the right attire, and lack acumen.

Discussing these sorts of deficiencies with an individual can be a challenge, which is why many managers don’t and instead choose not to hire or promote them and opt for other candidates. Managers often choose this route in order to avoid potential complaints against them. The problem is, this results in individuals continuously being overlooked for opportunities because they lack characteristics that are clearly needed to seal the deal.

Whether interviewing for a job with a new company or working to advance with a current employer, you must ensure you are fully equipped with the professional characteristics to be the best candidate for the job.

Here are the four A’s to help ensure your personal characteristics are not limiting your career advancement:


Attitude defines Attitude as a manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.

In the career world, people are more inclined to connect with an individual who has a positive disposition, rather than someone who appears to have a negative demeanor. You must be mindful of how you represent yourself verbally and nonverbally because it says a lot about you. You should be very mindful of your facial expressions and body language when in the workplace because it will be perceived as aligning with the characteristics of your attitude. Ensuring that you are positive, polite, respectful, non-judgmental and non-argumentative—when applicable of course—are a few ways to ensure that your attitude positively displays who you are as a professional.


Attire defines Attire as clothes or apparel.

Remember you’re constantly being evaluated. It’s important to make sure that you are dressing for the job that you want instead of the one you have. Dress the way you want to be addressed. The first thing people see is YOU and how you present yourself professionally. You must be aware of your employer’s dress code policy, work environment, and its cultural norms. Ensure that you are wearing clothing that is dress code compliant, age appropriate, fits properly and makes you feel comfortable and confident!


Adaptability defines Adaptability as being able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.

Many professionals career growth is limited because they can’t adapt to change. While you shouldn’t change the core of who you are as a professional, you need to modify some of your ways so that you are able to adapt to different environments and situations when needed. In the workplace, change is inevitable while growth is optional. It is imperative that you are able to adapt to different working conditions, environments, and professionals that you encounter.


Acumen defines Acumen as the ability to judge well; keen discernment; insight.

There are many individuals who possess education and experience but don’t trust their own judgment and discernment when making decisions. This is not something you can study but instead instinctively know when and how to exercise when needed. You must learn to assess situations, draw from your previous experiences, and trust your gut instinct to make decisions. Whether your decisions are right or wrong, you are exhibiting strength when you take action.



Nicole K. Webb is the founder of NK Webb Group, which specializes in Career Ownership and HR Consulting. Visit her company’s website at Follow her on Twitter @nkwebbgroup1. Pick up a copy of her book The Workplace Playbook