Your career path can take many twists and turns as you master one role and move on to another. At some point, you may seek a promotion — and the increased earnings and responsibility that typically come along with it. However, most of the time, a promotion is unlikely to just fall into your lap without some effort.
According to a study by WorldatWork, on average just 9 percent of employees in a company receive a promotion on an annual basis. Once you’ve decided the timing is right for you, you’ll want to be among this select group of those being congratulated on your promotion. Yet, how can you improve your chances of success? Here are five tips to improve your odds of advancing to the next level of your career and making your promotion goals a reality.
One of the best ways to put yourself in the running for a promotion is to act like you’re already at that next level. When you engage in behaviors that show you’ve got the maturity, organizational skills, and technical competence to perform in a more senior role, it’s easier for your manager to justify promoting you. For example, when you attend a department meeting, try to ask questions that demonstrate your ability to perform beyond the scope of your current position. When you show that you can think about the bigger picture and the broader implications of new initiatives or projects, your manager will take notice and begin to see you in a different light.
Acting as if you’ve already been promoted also requires avoiding certain behaviors, however. Engaging in work gossip, arriving late for meetings, or failing to deliver on commitments, no matter how small, will cause others to wonder if you’re truly ready to be promoted.
Most of the time, the solution for achieving your career goals is to do great work. Positioning yourself for promotion is no different. Making exceptional contributions is a prerequisite for getting ahead at work, so you’ll need to consistently demonstrate to your boss or manager that you can handle the expectations of your current job and at the next level. When a new initiative comes along, volunteer to lead it or help other members of the team do their part. Also, you can submit an assignment early with some additional analysis that your manager isn’t expecting.
If the promotion you want includes moving into a management role, then it will be helpful to get your feet wet by mentoring and coaching others. Helping others is a great way of demonstrating that you’re ready for the challenge of managing people. When you help to raise the performance of the people around you, it showcases your ability to be thoughtful about overall team performance — a signal that you’re ready to move up.
If you want to get promoted, you’ll need to possess the skills and knowledge required to perform a more senior role. Without these skills, you could be putting your career in a holding pattern. According to a survey conducted by Wyzant and Recruiter.com, nearly half of working Americans (48 percent) don’t get promoted because of lack of training.
To ensure you have the competencies required for promotion, be sure you understand what’s required and seek out professional development or continuing-education courses to bulk up your skill set. Training and development don’t come just from attending training courses, though. You can take online courses, such as the courses offered through Lynda.com, or attend industry conferences that teach new techniques and best practices.
Ask for it
Sometimes the best way to get a promotion is to ask for one. It’s possible your manager doesn’t know your career aspirations or just doesn’t think about your career development as much as he or she should. There are many opportunities to discuss your chances for promotion, including during a performance-review discussion or any time that you have your manager’s attention in a one-on-one meeting. Some useful tips for approaching the topic of promotion with your manager include:
Talking about your interest in making a greater contribution to the company and asking your manager about the kinds of promotional opportunities available. There may be more options than you know.
Making it clear that you’re focusing on building your skill set in a particular area so that you can put yourself in a better position for promotion. Ask your manager for suggestions on areas to pursue.
Being blunt. Say “I’m interested in being promoted in the next year or two. Can we talk about how I can reach that goal?” While your manager may not have all the answers, they will likely appreciate your ambition and will probably think about ways to help you.
Sometimes the most effective way to get what you want in your career is to simply ask for it. Other times, you’ll need to put yourself in the right position for others to see your capability beyond your current job. Sometimes, it might require both. By demonstrating to others that you have the attitude, skills, and willingness to perform at the next level, you’ll be in a much better position for promotion.
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