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March 31st, 2011,
How to Get Promoted

By Noël Rozny
Web Editor and Content Manager

So you went to school, worked hard, and landed a job at your dream company. You love what you do, but you’ve got your focus on something … bigger. You want to be challenged, you want to excel, you want to exceed expectations, you want career advancement. You want to be promoted.

When you’re new in a field and starting towards that promotion you’ve always wanted, you might feel like you’re at the bottom of the mountain looking up. The climb will be a lot of work, but with the tips below, you’ll be able to cut it down to size and get that promotion you’ve been dreaming of.

Career Advancement Tip #1: Work Hard, Really Hard

This one sounds kind of obvious, right? We all know that to get promoted, you have to work your tail off. But what is the difference between doing what’s required of you, doing it well, and taking that extra step that makes you stand out from your colleagues

Often times it’s the work that no one sees that ultimately matters the most. It means staying after 5:00 p.m. to get a report done when no one’s there to see you working late. It means stopping and double checking facts and figures to make sure they’re right before they get released. It’s taking the time to answer the cranky customer email no one knows about except for you. If you are hard working and meticulous in your job, even in the aspects that your boss doesn’t see right away, that’s going to pay off in the long term.

Career Advancement Tip #2: Take Ownership

Getting a promotion isn’t just about doing your job really well, it’s about showing initiative and that you can reach beyond your current skill set and succeed. It’s also about proving you have vision and follow through.

So what does that mean? The next time you’re in a meeting and a new initiative or project is brought up, seize the opportunity and make it your own. Even if it’s not in your specific job responsibilities, it’s a great way to increase your portfolio and show your boss you can handle additional work. And if there aren’t any projects coming down the pipeline, make your own. Brainstorm some ideas of what can help your team work better, your department run smoother, and your company’s services more successful. Then, pitch them to your boss.

Career Advancement Tip #3: Work Well With Others

Most promotions move people from entry-level to managerial positions, which means that playing well with others isn’t a bonus, it’s a must-have. You could be the best producer on the team, but if you can’t hand out (or take) constructive criticism, and you’re known as being impatient and uncooperative, chances are you won’t be getting promoted any time soon. To stand out as a candidate for promotion, you need to be able to get along with your team members, work well with others on projects, and especially cooperate with those outside of your department. A leader’s reach is often far beyond his or her own job – prove to your boss that you’ve got it.

Career Advancement Tip #4: Get Educated

Especially in today’s tough economy, certain jobs require additional or advanced degrees to get to the upper managerial levels. Do some research on your field and find out what degree is generally required for your dream position: is it a bachelor’s? A Master’s? An MBA? Then analyze the education you already have, and see how you can build on it. Maybe you can get the skills you need with a certificate or diploma, or maybe you need a master’s degree. If your plan is to stay within the company and advance, you might even be able to get part of your education paid for. Which leads me to my next point …

Career Advancement Tip #5: Ask

One of the best ways to get promoted is to let your boss or supervisor know that you’re looking to get promoted or work your way up in the company. If you’re a hard worker and your boss wants to keep you, he or she will be more than likely to help you meet your goals, and may even be willing to serve as a mentor and help you get those doors opened.

Having that conversation can be a little intimidating, so go in prepared. Let your boss know what your goals are, how you see yourself growing within the company, and what you have to offer. (Having data on your side, such as sales or earnings figures, is a great way to show the work you’ve already done.) Then ask him or her what you would need to do to get there. Whether it’s taking on some additional projects or taking some classes, you’ll know have a clear idea of the path in front of you, and a valuable ally on your side.

  • Megan

    Great advice as always, Noel. I’ve been working with manager lately on how I’m coming with my 2011 goals. I ran into a road block and found myself without the resources needed to accomplish one of the big ones. So, I put together an idea on how I can get those resources and just asked him. Now we’re working on a proposal to corporate for training resources program-wide. I was so nervous to ask (not wanting to appear as if I was making excuses to not hit a goal) but my boss was so receptive and understood both my needs and my request clearly. Megan: 1, Fear of Asking: 0!