Once we land a job, most of us quickly find ourselves getting caught up in the nine-to-five grind.

But if you find yourself too distracted by daily deadlines, meetings and emails to think about the next step, you could be sabotaging your career — without even realising it.

That's one of the top pieces of advice from Intel's regional marketing director Anna Torres, who said far too many workers were coasting through their working life without knowing where they wanted to end up.

In fact, she said one of the biggest mistakes you can make — besides turning up late for a job interview — is not knowing where you want to go next and relying on your manager.


"I've spoken to so many people who have been in a role for years and want to move on and I ask them, 'OK, to what?' and they're at a loss about where they want to go next," she told news.com.au.

"You can't rely on your manager to guide your path for you because they might have eight or 10 people reporting to them and they can't do that for every person.

"It's important to have an idea about your next goal or job you'd like to get so you can take steps and work out how to upskill whether though external training, networking or getting more experience.

"If you're just floating along expecting people to do it for you it will take longer than if you have a purpose regarding your next career step."

And Torres should know a thing or two about career progression.

After scoring a junior admin role at Intel fresh out of uni and then taking a career break to go backpacking through Europe, she returned to a similar position at the company around 15 years ago.

But since then, the Sydney-based mum has managed to rapidly rise through the ranks — first as an account manager, then social media manager, PR manager and ANZ marketing director before moving into her current, Singapore-based role as Intel's regional marketing director.

She said it was essential to "promote yourself" and step out of your "comfort zone" if you want to get ahead in the workplace.


"Promoting yourself and your work doesn't come naturally to many Australians — because of the Tall Poppy Syndrome we don't want to talk ourselves up and sound like a show-off," she said.

"When you're young you might not feel confident to send a group email saying 'look what I've done,' but I've sat with managers for end-of-year appraisals that were sometimes shocked by the things I'd accomplished.

"So if you finish a program or campaign, don't be shy — go and talk about it. I know it can be difficult to send a group email so perhaps take the next step and get a one-on-one coffee with the manager of a team you want to be in — that's a direct way to get your point across about your key achievements.

"If you keep it to yourself, no one will know about you so don't be embarrassed about talking yourself up and tooting your own horn — you really have to do it, especially at the junior level."

Her next piece of advice is also not for the faint-hearted.

"Looking back, I've had two or three jobs I was petrified of taking — I couldn't do half the things in the job description," she said.

"I think it's very natural to tend to do things you're very good at but you won't grow or move forward if you don't add more skills to your set.

"Jumping into something I knew nothing about gave me skills and rounded me out as a marketer and sales person — adding more skills to your CV makes people look at you and opens up opportunities, whether in Australia or internationally."

She also stressed the importance of networking, adaptability and finding a mentor and having a clear understanding of what you wanted to get out of the relationship.