Getting a promotion takes time – plus a plethora of skill and abilities and the right attitude, of course. But just because you may not be able to snag yourself a new title tomorrow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working today to show you’re the right gal for the job.
Why? As Karen Elizaga, executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot, explains, “when you are making these promotion-worthy moves, whether motivated solely by the potential to move up, or simply to do the best job, people are watching. At this level, your superiors and even your peers know that they can rely on you, and you stand out from the rest.”
1. Manage yourself.
Managing you is your manager’s job, right? Wrong – if you want a promotion, says Sharlyn Lauby, president of consulting firm ITM Group Inc., founder of HR Bartender, and author of Essential Meeting Blueprints for Managers. “No company wants to promote a hot mess,” she says frankly. “So being punctual and organized is important. By doing these things, the company can see that you will set a good example.”
2. Seek out feedback.
If seeking out even constructive criticism seems slightly masochistic, consider this: Showing you are committed to getting better and growing successfully in your current role could keep you top-of-mind when it comes to even greater progress – like a promotion, say Elizaga. So, “when executing on a project, and especially when you have completed one, find out from your boss whether there’s anything else that you can do above and beyond what you’ve just accomplished,” she recommends.
3. Solve problems.
One universal skill of managers, it seems, is their ability to put out proverbial fires. So be the person with the extinguisher – and not the match, so to speak. “Companies want to know the people they promote are able to see potential problems and propose solutions,” says Lauby. “It’s hard to justify promoting a person who subscribes to tacit approval.”
4. Look for ways to help.
You’ve got your daily to-do list down-pat – and you do it well. “But what can you do to improve or streamline [other work] processes that could save money for the company or enhance effectiveness and efficiency?” asks Elizaga. By providing solutions to problems that others have ignored – problems that have likely plagued your boss – you’ll stand out amongst the complacent crowd, Elizaga says.
5. Resolve conflict.
People who get promoted play well with others. “This doesn’t mean that occasionally disagreements won’t happen,” says Lauby. “But HR professionals get no joy in wearing a striped shirt and breaking up employee conflicts.” So the next time things get heated with a coworker, don’t run to your boss’ office. Instead, approach your colleague. “I always recommend starting a conversation with, ‘Having a good working relationship with you is important to me. Can we talk?’” Lauby recommends.
6. Be your own advocate.
Do your job and the job of a public relations firm, representing yourself and your accomplishments, Elizaga recommends. “When you have achieved something that you’re proud of, you can send an email to the team letting them know,” she says. “Mind you, the communication need not be boastful – in fact, you can send out an email of gratitude that thanks to everyone who pitched in, the challenges you might have faced, and let them know what the outcome was.”
7. Learn how to learn.
You may only think about school once a month when you cut your student loans debt check. But Lauby says it’s important to continue learning new skills long after you’ve graduated if you want to snag a promotion. “Organizations want employees who will own their careers and that means taking control of their career development,” she says. “If you want a promotion, start showing your manager that you’re trying to learn new skills. Volunteer to work on a project to gain experience.”
8. Dress for the job you want.
If your current role calls for nothing more formal than jeans but your boss wears pencil skirts and stilettos to work every day, then it’s time to rethink your wardrobe, Elizaga says. “It sounds so cliché, but it’s true,” she says. “If you start a job in the mailroom, but you want a job in marketing, check out what the people in marketing are wearing and emulate it. Whether we like it or not, our appearance makes an impact on others’ impressions of us, so it behooves us to make the most favorable impression we can even before we open our mouths.”
9. Give relevant feedback.
Not only should you ask for feedback when it comes to your own work, but you should practice giving it, too – like a manager might. “No matter what job you have, being able to give thoughtful, relevant feedback is important,” says Lauby. “Organizations rely heavily on good feedback to make business decisions. And people who give good feedback get invited to the right meetings – the meetings that can showcase your talents, if you get what I mean.”
10. Carry yourself with confidence.
Finally, “no matter what your stature, carrying yourself with confidence and trust in yourself will inspire others to trust you as well – possibly with bigger and better roles, and ultimately a promotion,” says Elizaga. “Your body language speaks volumes, accounting for up to 60 percent of the message that you send to the world. So, inspiring body language asks silently for a promotion.”
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