Six things to do if you’re serious about being promoted

Six things to do if you’re serious about being promoted

Do you want to advance your career and earn more money?

Chances are, you’ve answered a resounding, “Yes!”

Now for the next question: what are you actually doing to advance?

If you’ve answered something like, “I show up to work every day and do my best,” then you’re definitely not alone. However, being promoted isn’t just about being in a position for a specific amount of time. It’s also about earning the additional responsibility and pay—and making sure your supervisor knows you deserve it. In short, the truth is that if you’re serious about getting that next promotion, there are a number of things you need to be doing consistently in order to position yourself as your supervisor’s best choice:

  1. Find out what you need to do in order to qualify for a promotion. In many companies, promotions go hand-in-hand with a salary raise and are therefore only offered at specific time intervals. For example, you might have to be in a position for 18 months in order to qualify for a promotion. But time served in the position doesn’t guarantee you qualify for the position you’re after: you must also possess the abilities needed to fulfill the duties of the position. Ask your supervisor what experience and skills you need to have in order to move up. Examples include technical skills; the ability to handle accounts independently; leadership skills; and so on. Make a list, and work toward acquiring the necessary abilities and knowledge.
  2. Ask for stretch assignments. Now you know what skills you need to acquire or hone to advance, assess all of your tasks at work in relation to the desired promotion. Playing it safe isn’t going to push you to grow and develop; so you need to volunteer for more responsibility and ask for stretch assignments. Think of things like volunteering to present a project for a client; organizing the company’s participation at a trade convention; or leading a team on a new assignment. 
  3. Keep a log of everything you do. The biggest mistake you can make if you want to get promoted is not keeping track of your accomplishments. Even if you expect your boss to know everything you’ve done, realistically, he or she has a number of other employees to manage and a host of tasks to attend to. That’s why you have to make sure you record every project you’ve worked on, every challenge you’ve overcome, every “against all odds” win you’ve enjoyed. Keep a separate file somewhere handy, like on your phone, and at the end of each week, record what you’ve been working on, what obstacles you encountered, and what your results are. Note that you should bring this file with you to every performance review so you can fill your supervisor in if he or she is missing some information.
  4. Dress the part. As Catherine Conlan points out in her Monster article, “What Not to Wear If You Want to Get Promoted,” it’s a good idea to observe how your supervisor dresses and then to follow his or her lead without turning into a copycat. In other words, if your manager wears formal suits—still the preferred dress code in financial and legal services—then you should, too. But if the dress code is business casual, then a three-piece bespoke suit might be considered over the top.
  5. Get a mentor. Find a mentor who’s knowledgeable about the career paths in your profession. Having someone who can answer your questions and clarify where you might need to learn more or get additional experience can be invaluable when you’re actively working to advance your career.
  6. Ask for a promotion. Your supervisor told you exactly what you’d need in order to promote, so once you’ve checked off all those boxes, it’s time to ask for your promotion. If you don’t get it, find out why not. Sometimes employers have to put a hold on promotions due to operational concerns. If it looks like you’ll still get the promotion within a reasonable amount of time, hang in there. If the prospects aren’t too positive, however, and you know you deserve a promotion, then it might be time to start looking elsewhere.

If you consistently do these six things, then you’ll soon find yourself progressing towards the position you want.

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