But you may suspect that other reasons are at play--and you'd be right. AOL Jobs has combed through the research and uncovered four major reasons why some people seem to have all the luck in getting what they want.
Here's what the boss (and HR) won't tell you about what it takes to win in the workplace -- even in 2013.
1. Be a relentless self-promoter. Jeffrey Pfeffer, who teaches organizational behavior at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, recently spoke to Business Insider about his book, "Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't." And simply put, working hard isn't enough -- you've got to sell yourself. Forget what you learned in school. The office isn't a meritocracy where in which people rise solely based on talent and performance. With managers busy with their own assignments, "you should not assume that they're spending all their time thinking about you and worrying about you and your career," Pfeffer tells Business Insider.
So, it's vital for workers to be willing to "play the game," he says. That means schmooze and promoting your work constantly. He says: "the number one thing I think people do that limits their effectiveness, they opt out... They opt out by saying, I won't do it. They opt out in a variety of ways and therefore and thereby really limit their own careers and their own potential.
2. Keep your boss happy. Your colleagues love you? That's fine, but you report to your manager, who controls your fate. Your boss' priorities should be your priorities. As Alyssa Goldman recently noted on personal finance website, LearnVest:
"One good rule of thumb is to be an employee who makes your boss's job easier: Volunteer to take on additional projects and think about what you can do to lighten her workload. Or notice what she is complaining about, and figure out how to solve a problem within your department."
3. Be beautiful. On the outside, not just on the inside. Good looks don't just matter at the bar; they help in the office. University of Texas economist, Daniel Hamermesh, quantified the wage difference between attractive and less attractive workers. In promoting his book, "Beauty Pays," in the New York Times, Hamermesh stated the following:
"One study showed that an American worker who was among the bottom one-seventh in looks, as assessed by randomly chosen observers, earned 10 to 15 percent less per year than a similar worker whose looks were assessed in the top one-third -- a lifetime difference, in a typical case, of about $230,000."
4. Don't be a "pushy woman." Assertiveness is usually vital for getting ahead in the workplace -- except if you're a woman. Harvard's Hannah Riley Bowles and Carnegie Mellon's Linda Babock have been studying the role of gender in the workplace for over five years. They've asked hundreds of people to watch videos of men and women following different scripts in negotiating for raises.
"We have found that if a man and a woman both attempt to negotiate for higher pay, people find a woman who does this, compared to one who does not, significantly less attractive. Whereas with the guy, it doesn't seem to matter," Riley Bowles told the New York Times.
Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now
- 8 Ways Employers Can Discriminate Against Workers -- Legally
- Is Weight Discrimination At Work Illegal?
- The Trouble With Tech: Too Few Women [Infographic]
Looking for a job? Click here to get started.