How to Get a Promotion

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You have two ways to get a promotion at work: wait to get noticed, or make people notice you.

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Many people believe that working hard and doing a good job are the main ways to get a promotion. Unfortunately, politics are often involved in getting a promotion at work.

Additionally, if you’re competing with others for a promotion, management honestly might not know you’re the most qualified. This is especially true if someone else is lobbying for the job you want, or just plain brown-nosing the boss.

If you want to move up the ladder quickly, you’ll have to prepare for your opportunity and then help create your opportunity.

Don’t end up like almost 80 percent of the rest of workers worldwide and leave your job because you weren’t recognized properly.

Using a three-phase plan, you can improve the hard and soft skills you’ll need for the next level, make sure your superiors know you’re ready, and negotiate effectively.

Creating Your Roadmap

Getting a promotion isn’t just an issue of timing—it’s an issue of preparedness

Walking up to your boss and saying, “I’m ready for a promotion. Can we talk?” isn’t how to ask your boss for a promotion.

Do you know what the job description of the new position you want will contain? Do you have all the qualifications, skills sets and experience listed on that job description?

I had the opportunity to get promoted from nuclear medicine tech to radiation saftegy officer during my time in the hospital profession. That required taking certification courses in other state, but I raised my title and salary within a few weeks’ time. And my employer paid for this training.

Learn What the Job Requires

Get hold of the job description of the job you want from HR if you can. If you need to be discreet, search online job boards for the same title and read them to see what your employer will probably want.

Make sure you really want the position before you apply for a promotion. Talk to people inside your company in that position and ask them how they like their work.

This is a good time to visit career advice sites and think about your career path. To make a six-figure salary, you’ll probably need to earn multiple promotions first.

Plan Months Ahead

The smartest path to a promotion can take six months or more. Don’t be impatient if your financial situation is tight. Look at other ways to make supplement your income in the meantime. Some ideas can start earning you cash quicker.

If you’re working for a small company and can’t tell a co-worker, “I’d like your job someday,” talk to people in your network outside the company. Visit the website of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has detailed job descriptions for most jobs.

Create a timeline for getting your promotion. This will help you figure out how much time you have to improve your skills. Identify the people at your company who will make the decision. Begin getting in front of those people so you can learn how to get promoted.

Research People, Not Just Positions

Once you know who is responsible for filling the position you want, learn what you can about them. Check out their LinkedIn profiles to see not only their job history, but also the groups and professional associations they’ve joined. See where they volunteer.

Review your Skills

Assess your skills during this phase. Decide if it will help you to take any online courses or in-person seminars or workshops. Professional development is key to climbing the ladder to a higher level and long-term career advancement.

Some career skills you’ll need will take years to achieve. If you start working on them now, you don’t have to finish them to get your next promotion. Your employers will see that you are currently working on long-term job skills and are committed to your profession.

List your Achievements

Write a list of your accomplishments in your current position that relate to the job. Accomplishments are different than duties. Duties tell an employer what you did in a position while accomplishments tell an employer how well you did in a position.

Try to find the Key Performance Indicators that define success in the position you want and then match your work history to show you can provide those results if you’re promoted.

This will help you tell an interviewer what value you bring to the company. It will also help you match what you learned about your potential boss’s values and interests to your expertise and experience in those areas.

Learn where you are not in your comfort zone and try to improve your skills there.

Getting Started

Once you’ve created your plan for getting promoted, start raising your performance and profile at work

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Be a Top Performer

Make sure any work you do during this phase is your best. Try to deliver work early instead of just on time. This will help you avoid missing deadlines.

Don’t do the minimum required. Add extra and point it out to your boss. Don’t ask for credit for doing more work or say, “Look at me!” Instead, let your boss know you found and added some extra value to your project based on your knowledge of your area.

Keep Track of your Successes

Keep track of the work you perform during this phase so that during an interview, you can point out any special value you recently brought to the company. You should be able to tell an interview not just what projects you’ve handled recently, but why you delivered a measurable benefit to your company.

Don’t make it look like everything you did was easy. Point out challenges you’ve recently faced so you can show an interview that you are capable of solving problems.

Employers want people who don’t need to be supervised every step of the way.

Think About your Dollar Value

Unless you work for a nonprofit, companies want you to help them either increase revenues or cut costs. Even if you work in HR or design or IT, the work you do should help the company make money.

Try to pinpoint where you’ve specifically helped the company improve its profits. For example, if you’ve improved an area of customer service at your company, you’ve probably decreased returns and raised customer reviews. This helps increase sales and avoid refunds.

If you want a raise, bonus or better benefits that go with a new job, show the company that you will pay for yourself. You do that by either helping increase sales or decrease expenses.

Improve your Internal Network

In addition to needing HR and your new potential boss on your side, you need co-workers to recommend you. An employer is going to want to speak to the people who have worked above, next to, and below you to see what they think of you.

Now is the time to start building, repairing and improving relationships with people at your company. You want to be seen as a team player.

Avoid gossip at all costs, including listening to gossip. Be careful how you respond to emails, which can later be used against you.

If your company has a mentorship program, ask to be part of it. If not, ask someone above you with whom you have a good relationship if they would act as a mentor.

Start Negotiating Early

Once you’ve researched and prepared yourself for a new promotion, start working your pitch

Let the Cat out of the Bag

It’s time to let your superiors know you’re interested in a new position.

Start the conversation with your boss so that he or she doesn’t think you’re going around him or her. Set up a meeting and let him or her know you love working for the company, you love your work and you want even more responsibility.

Don’t tell your boss what you want for yourself, tell him or her what you want to do and can do for the company. Let your employer know you see yourself as part of the company team and that you want to grow and stay with the company.

You might find out your chance for promotion is still years off, and you might need to begin an external job search to get a promotion to the next-level position you want.

This is the time to update your resume and review your cover letter points.

Set up an Informational Meeting

Ask your boss specifically what you need to do to get the position you want. Ask for an informal meeting or lunch to talk about what steps you need to take next.

Some businesses have certain procedures for how to move up in a company. Let your boss know you understand the process might take months and you want to plan ahead.

Don’t make your complete pitch at this point. This meeting should be an informational interview for you to gather input from your boss. Be ready to answer questions about your past work, but this is not the job interview.

The information you get from this meeting will help you prepare for a future interview. Remember, this phase of your plan can last three to six months.

Prepare your sales argument

Begin ordering and preparing the information about yourself that you put together in Phase II of your plan.

Organize your presentation so that your pitch flows well. For example, start your presentation by letting an interviewer know that you understand what the new job will entail.

Once you are both on the same page, you can list your core competencies, skills, abilities, and training. Prove you are a problem solver and ready for the next step.

Once you’ve reviewed the job description and matched your skills to the new position, present your experience and successes. This is where you show how you’ve overcome challenges, delivered more than what was asked on specific projects, developed new ideas and saved your department money or increased sales.

Let an interviewer know that you will pay for yourself. If possible, give some specific examples of where you can cut costs or increase revenues.

Think About your Timing

Don’t surprise your boss with your formal request for a promotion. If it’s been four or five months since your initial discussion, things might have changed at the company.

Your boss might be in the middle of a big project or a crisis. The company might be facing a downturn in sales. Your company might only make new hires during a specific calendar cycle or during the annual budget review.

Look for the right opportunity to make your pitch. It can start by reminding your boss you’re interested in a promotion by mentioning that you’ve recently taken a professional workshop or are attending a conference next week.

If the timing is right, ask for your promotion during your annual review. Give your boss enough time to prepare to discuss that during your review.

Make sure you have researched the typical compensation for this position. Learn how your company handles raises, bonuses, flex time and perks so you know what to ask for during a negotiation.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. According to CNBC, 84% or job seekers who negotiated for a higher salary received it.


Don’t wait for a promotion to happen—make it happen

Create a three-step plan that includes a research phase, a preparation phase, and an active negotiation phase.

Decide what job you want and what skills the ideal candidate needs for the position.

Spend several months over-performing at your job. Document your achievements, successes, and accomplishments.

Build your relationships at your company to ensure you get positive internal reviews.

After you’ve taken these steps, let your boss know that you’re interested in a promotion. Start the discussion with an informal meeting to help you gather more specific information.

Used the information you’re boss has given you about getting promoted. Do what’s needed to fill in any gaps and to expand your resume.

Decide when the timing is right to formally ask for a promotion. Make an organized “sales pitch” for yourself during your interview using your documented skills, experience and accomplishments.

Be prepared to negotiate salary, bonus, and perks.

Are you currently actively planning the next step in your career, or are you waiting to be noticed?

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