If your goals for this year included getting a promotion, but you’re not quite there yet, it might be time to check your strategy.
To move up the ladder at work, you need a lot of things working in your favor. You have to do good work, of course, but you also need to be perceived as doing good work. That means being able to show that you’re helping the company achieve its goals, as well as getting the endorsement of decision-makers who can help you on your path.
Make it happen, with these tips:
1. Do an Excellent Job
First things first: if you’re excellent at marketing yourself, you probably could get promoted without doing your best work, but that tends to come back to bite you. For one thing, colleagues tend to notice when someone isn’t pulling their weight … and it’s hard to get stuff done without support from your team.
So, do a good job. That means hitting high marks on your official goals, but also trying to align your efforts with the company’s larger aims as well. Be worthy of the promotion you seek.
2. Talk to Your Boss About Your Goals
Now is not the time to leave your boss in the dark about your long-term plans. If you’re hoping to move up at the company, you need your manager’s support.
Keep your boss in the loop, and be open to hearing what they have to say. You might learn valuable information about the company, as well as get tips on how to bring your own performance up to the next level.
For example: maybe that promotion you have your eye on doesn’t come with much of a raise — or any raise at all. If that’s a deal-breaker for you — and let’s face it, it would be for most of us — it’s better to find out now.
3. Be Reasonable
It’s important to have an idea of how things are done at your company and in your industry before you talk to your boss. For example, maybe people typically put in three years in a junior role before moving up. That doesn’t mean you can’t push earlier, but it does mean that you should be prepared to hear no.
It’s also a good idea to know what’s appropriate in terms of raises before you start your quest in earnest. Generally speaking, you’re not going to get as much of a pay increase by staying at the same company as you would by moving on. But knowing an appropriate rate for the role will help you decide if the number you eventually hear is acceptable.
4. Pick the Right Projects
“If you say yes too much, your performance will drop,” says Larry Myler, business strategist and author of Indispensable by Monday: Learn the Profit-Producing Behaviors That Will Help Your Company and Yourself, in an interview with Monster.com. “If you say no, you don’t look like a team player.”
So be selective. Look for projects that are high profile, but don’t take on so many of them that you can’t do an excellent job at everything you do.
5. Take Yourself Seriously
Want other people to take you seriously? Set the tone.
“You can showcase gravitas in voice, language and attire,” says Suzy Welch. “But most of all, through the way you comport yourself.”
That doesn’t mean that you can never have fun at work. It just means that you should also strive to act professionally.
6. Track Your Accomplishments
You can’t build a case for promotion if you can’t remember everything you’ve done — and don’t assume that your achievements will stay fresh in your mind without help.
Track your accomplishments, and you won’t have to scramble to come up with something when you need to show why you should get a promotion. Bonus points if you can relate them to your official goals and quantify them with numbers, percentages and dollar signs.
Track your accomplishments, and you won’t have to scramble to come up with something when you need to show why you should get a promotion.
7. Learn How to Toot Your Own Horn
Many of us were raised not to brag. That’s all well and good in your personal life, but at work, if you never talk about what you’ve done, chances are that no one will notice.
The key is to brag the right way. Make your case with data, share credit with others when credit is due and learn to tell a story about your accomplishments, instead of just making a flat statement: “I figured out how to crack XYZ problem” instead of “I’m the BEST SALESPERSON OF ALL TIME.”
8. Be a Team Player
Few professionals truly work alone, and to succeed, you need to keep strong ties with your team. That means helping others, even as you’re keeping an eye on your own career trajectory.
You’ll be glad you did, especially when you need a reference, recommendation or job lead. The best way to network is to look for opportunities to give someone else a hand.
9. Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date
Don’t neglect your resume during this process. Add new skills and drop older jobs and qualifications that won’t help you reach your goal.
Employers often ask for a current copy of your resume when they’re considering you for a new role inside the company. Beyond that, you’ll want to have your CV ready, just in case things don’t work out and you want to look for new opportunities.
10. Don’t Narrow Your Focus
Hopefully, things will work out and you’ll land the job of your dreams without having to roll over your 401(k). But don’t put all your eggs in that basket.
Look for jobs outside the company, even as you angle for a promotion where you are. You never know what you might find. Keep your options open, and you’ll be well poised to take advantage of your next opportunity … wherever you might find it.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you been promoted recently? We want to hear from you. Tell us how you did it. Share your story in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.