I’ve had thousands of conversations with hiring managers and job candidates over the course of my 30+ years in the business of recruiting and advising insurance and risk professionals. Although many people follow unique paths to get to the top of their field, there is much agreement when it comes to recommendations for achieving job success.

Below, in no particular order, I’ve listed the 10 responses I most often hear. While these certainly are not the only steps you should take, I do think they are key and very much worth sharing.

1 – Identify a mentor and take full advantage of utilizing this individual to advance your career. Among the many benefits, a mentor can help you: identify your goals, develop the skills that will best serve you in meeting these goals, raise the level of your achievements, act as a sounding board, boost your self-confidence, and help put you on course to being a leader in your field. Many top professionals agree that having a mentor has made a tremendous impact on their career.

2 – Work for the right person, in the right company. Having a great, forward-thinking manager who challenges, motivates, and inspires you to stretch beyond your comfort zone can set you on a path of success you might never achieve working in an uninspiring environment and reporting to someone who is a controlling “my way or the highway” type.

3 – Be curious. Learn all you can about your business, your client’s business, and how your role can enhance both. Ask questions and build relationships. In doing so, opportunities will come to you.

4 – Show up every day with your head in the game, focused on meeting your challenges and finding ways to add value. Build your brand as a “get it done” performer.

5 – Develop your listening skills and demonstrate that you have heard the other person. Simply put, people need to know they’ve been heard. Listening to others can also help you gain insights, solve problems, and identify new opportunities. In addition, no one likes a know-it-all. Developing your listening skills will help you build stronger relationships with colleagues at all levels.

6 – Be transparent and efficient with your communication. Effective communication is one of the most important skills you can have, and it is essential if you want to be a leader. Speak in terms your audience will relate to and appreciate.

7 – Whatever interests your boss should fascinate you. If you are given a task or project, whether or not you like it, do it with a sense of urgency, a positive attitude, and do it well. Demonstrate that not only are you in synch with your manager, you also are an independent thinker who can make valuable contributions. Look for ways to expand the scope of the project to add more value.

8 – Whether you are a broker, underwriter, or risk manager, learn your business and learn your client’s business. Hiring managers have repeatedly told me that when they have a tough choice to make between two candidates, they lean toward the individual who understands the challenges faced by the company to which they are applying. Brokers get the BOR for many reasons, not the least of which is because they’ve convinced their prospective client they know their business and industry and can provide valuable insight and thought-leadership.

9 – Be a consistently high-level performer. Although this one should go without saying, it’s been my experience that people can get comfortable and complacent – which will lead to almost certain career death. It may take a while, but you can bank on being toast if management thinks you are no longer motivated and adding value.

10 – Stay current with your skills. Be aware of the trends and skills that companies are looking for. The time to find out that your skills are out of date is not when you’ve lost your job.