Career paths are not always clear and promotions are not automatic. Getting a promotion takes as much planning and care as getting any job.
A friend tells you she’s been promoted at work. She’s an ambitious, hardworking person so you’re not surprised. But later, as you consider her good fortune, you start pondering your own career … and lack of progress. You’re ambitious and capable too. How can you make sure your hat is in the ring when an opportunity for advancement comes along?
Experts advise that oftentimes promotions go to the people who make it clear that they want to be promoted.
Cover the basics first:
- Do your very best work in your current job. Work hard. Ask questions to ensure you do things right the first time. Ask for more work and more responsibility. If you deal with outside people or customers, be a great representative—praise from outside vendors or clients speaks to your capabilities.
- Build a strong relationship with your boss. A strong relationship doesn’t mean you hang out in your boss’s office bragging about your work. It means you’re aware of what’s on his or her plate professionally. Ask about the work challenges your boss faces, and make sure your work helps get the results needed. Offer innovative ideas and creative solutions.
- Understand your entire organization. Knowing how your role fits into the big picture will help others view you as a strategic thinker and team player.
- Keep learning. New knowledge and skills keep you fresh and enthusiastic. Take charge of your career development by finding continuing education, industry events, Webinars and seminars to broaden your skills. Sharpen your people skills too. Listening, communicating, negotiating—these are vital in gaining the respect of co-workers and bosses. Also, stay current on trends in your field.
Once this basic groundwork is in place, it’s time to act.
Develop a plan. Where do you want to be? Would a lateral move make sense and help build your skills? Consider the size of your company and its financial situation as well. Larger companies usually have more obvious career advancement routes. If you work for a smaller company, you may need to spend more time identifying ways that you can take on added responsibility or tackle existing problems.
Talk to your boss. You’re interested in more responsibility and career advancement—let him or her know. Stress that you want your work to meet the company’s goals, and that you’re willing to go above and beyond.
Make sure your hard work gets noticed. Keep track of your accomplishments and set up times to talk with your boss regularly to discuss and fine-tune. Speak up in meetings and get noticed for your ideas.
Don’t leave promotions up to chance. First, build your reputation for producing high-quality, professional work in a dependable and cooperative way. Then, think about what you want, let your boss know you’re interested in growth within the company and be sure your work gets noticed.