(MoneyWatch) Recently, a frustrated reader asked me how to get promoted at her entry-level job. When she pushed for her promotion, she was told by her supervisor that she needed to show leadership and other skills necessary to move up. The problem? Her position revolved around boring busy work. In her current position, she wasn't able to showcase any skills other than making a mediocre cup of coffee (or in her case, ordering it from Starbucks for everyone in her office). I asked Gen Y career consultant Scott Gerber, founder of The Young Entrepreneur Council, what advice he gave to young people like her. Here's what he suggested:
Wear hats other than your own
Your job responsibilities are the bare minimum of what you can do to keep your job -- not get promoted. "As companies actively trim their staffs to get lean and cut costs, they are looking for effective multi-taskers who are ready to learn fast and move," says Gerber. Try to do anything that needs to get done (even if it's not your responsibility), and then spot things that could be done and do those, too. "Never be the person in the room that says 'that's not in my job description,'" says Gerber.
Make your boss look great
While anticipating needs and fulfilling them before they're even spotted by others, focus specifically on your boss's workload. "The more you can streamline the jobs of the higher ups, the more people will take notice," says Gerber. Don't wait for your manager to ask for help; just help him or her. "If you can make your boss more effective without being a kiss ass, you're in good shape," says Gerber.
Make your own opportunities
Consider freelancing while working at your current job as a way to expand your skill set and show talents hidden in her current position. "In a corporate job, your hustle will face many obstacles--office politics, remedial tasks, limited upside potential, to name a few. However, your hustle as an entrepreneur or freelancer, while in some ways riskier, can also produce more long term value--higher salary, more connections, faster route to personal growth," says Gerber. Few things show initiative better than working on your own projects (as long as they don't conflict or compete with the goals of your current company).