Are you tired of the current position you’re in? Do you want to increase your responsibilities, get paid more and move up the ladder of your company?
Many people want a promotion, but especially those young and ambitious professionals early into their careers.
Promotions can be awarded based on any number of variables and there is no one quick-fix to land yourself one overnight.
The best way to approach receiving a promotion is to do the little things right day in and day out and put yourself in a situation with the highest odds of being promoted.
In the several companies I have worked for to start my career, I was lucky enough to work closely with the higher-ups and learned through observation and conversations with them on what really gets someone promoted.
Here are the top 19 things to do to get a promotion at work.
1. Produce the Best Work
The number one thing you can do to stand out from the crowd at work and catch the eyes of the higher-ups is to produce the best work.
To produce the best work you need to show you are competent and reliable at doing what is asked of you. Your first priority should be delivering on your task or assignment. After taking care of what has been asked, you can then look for ways to innovate and over-deliver.
Take pride in your work, deliver what is asked, and go the extra mile when you can. To deal with time constraints, prioritize what is important.
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2. Say Yes to All Projects and Presentations
Never turn down the offer to work on an assignment or presentation from anyone above you in the company. At times, this may cause extra stress in your work-life when your plate is already full, but by saying yes to everything you accomplish many things:
- You show a team-oriented attitude
- You show you are confident in your abilities to take on anything
- You become a reliable and valuable go-to in the company
3. Don’t Miss Work
The recommendation here is not to avoid taking days off. Each company has a different culture and vacation policy. Some teams even take more days off than other teams within one company.
Whatever the case may be, get a feel for what is normal and stay within or under the norm. Again, you are showing reliability while doing this. Promotions come with larger responsibilities and they won’t award a promotion to someone who will be consistently absent.
4. Solve Big Problems and Make the Company Money
This is easier said than done, but if you can solve big problems in the company, you are going to skyrocket to the top much quicker.
Dive deep into the business and find out where it needs improvement and go out and improve those things. You can find opportunities through your own observations or you can ask your team or the executives what the top improvement areas are.
Solving problems that make the company more revenue or save them in costs or time is the best way to bring tangible value to your employer.
5. Help Your Boss Get Promoted
You may have heard the phrase “You always want to make the boss look good.”
This is absolutely true when you are trying to put yourself in place to get a promotion. If you are an entry-level analyst, finding ways to make the Vice President on your team look good to his or her bosses will get you noticed.
Think of it from the perspective of your boss. If your boss has someone on their team that makes them look good, don’t you think they’ll want to keep them around? If they look good, they’ll get a promotion and chances are they’ll take you along with them so they can be promoted again in the future.
6. Become Indispensable
When something is described as “indispensable,” it means that it is an absolute necessity to have.
This is what you want to be considered to your team and company. Become so knowledgeable, so skilled, and so dependable that your company could not do without you.
If you reach this level of value, your company will take note of this. They know a talent like you could receive an offer from anyone in an instant. To keep you around, they’ll promote you and pay you more.
To become indispensable, you need to have high-value and unique skills and knowledge that others can’t reproduce. Find ways to do this so that if you left the company, they know they would take a serious hit.
B. Day-To-Day Behaviors
7. Stay Off People’s Nerves
No matter how glamorous a position is, work is still work, and the fact is that most people would prefer to not have to show up every day working for someone else. Working alongside someone who is irritating and a drag on the office is the last thing someone wants to do.
As the days pass, focus on being someone that others want to be around. Don’t be a cancer to the team or company. Be uplifting to the office and add to the atmosphere. Do not do anything to subtract from it, even with the little things.
Keep the bosses happy, make them laugh and be engaging in the office. Be someone who others like to talk to when they are taking their 2:00 pm coffee break.
8. Stay Away From Gossiping on Others
I’d personally recommend that you stay away from gossip in general, but especially in the workplace. You’ll find that others in the company gossip about others, including their colleagues, bosses and the executives. They may gossip about their character, their personal life, and their performance as an employee.
Do not engage in gossiping back. Stay neutral and try to avoid agreeing with them if you can.
You never know what words will travel and you never know if the one you’re gossiping about will have a substantial impact on your career. Someone may become your new boss, and if they know you have gossiped about them, your chances for a promotion are slim.
Also, if people gossip about others to you behind their backs, you can bet that they gossip about you behind your back as well.
Don’t be offended, but just keep that in mind. With that, also know that whatever you say to them may also flow through to others, so you’ll want to speak neutrally or positively about everyone.
9. Be Human
This should seem pretty obvious, but there are some people in the office that just don’t get it. Be human. Don’t be a corporate robot. Have a personality, show emotion, and be friendly with others.
Avoid talking about work all the time. If you are on lunch, talk to people about things such as their interests, or sports, or current events. Lunch is a time to take a break and get away from working for a second.
Doing this will attract friends and connections within the company, which could pay off in your future.
10. Act Like You Are Promoted
Before being promoted, your boss needs to be able to see you in the position you want to be promoted to.
Observe the qualities of those above you in the organization and embody what they do.
- Are they more vocal?
- What type of work and analyses do they produce?
- What do their commitment levels to the company look like?
Ask yourself these types of questions and act the part. Overcome any imposter syndrome you may have and be confident.
11. Take Interest in the Business and Keep Learning
Fully immerse yourself in the business and how it works if you want to increase your odds of a promotion. Be constantly learning and trying to understand all of the business.
By doing this, you will become more competent on the business and its operations. Also, to learn, you will have to ask questions and find resources from others within the company. This will show your level of interest and commitment to your colleagues, boss, and high-level executives.
This sends a signal that you are someone that is 100% invested and that you would be someone worth promoting.
12. Carry Yourself Well
Just as you take pride in your work, you should also take pride in how you carry yourself. This applies to your appearance and your behaviors and actions.
For appearances, you don’t need the most expensive suit or a $20,000 watch. Simply dress well, stay well-groomed, and overall, carry yourself as a professional.
Not only are you representing yourself when you show up to work, but you are representing the company too.
Promotions come with invitations to meetings of greater magnitude and client-facing interactions. If you are an Analyst and give the appearance of an Associate or Director, others will treat you like one and you might just be promoted to one.
13. Ask For Feedback
Every now and then, ask your boss for feedback. Ask them where you are excelling, where you need improvement, and what else you could do to benefit the team.
Feedback can be tough to swallow and is often avoided. By asking for feedback, you are already setting yourself apart from the rest.
Your boss will note that you are someone that is looking to improve themselves and bring more value to the team. Additionally, you can take the feedback you have received to become better at your job. This will also lead to an increase in chances for promotion.
14. Befriend Everyone
The saying “It’s not about what you know. It’s about who you know,” does indeed have truth to it. People enjoy working around those they like to be around.
Introduce yourself and try to strike conversations with anyone you can in the company. This will expand your network, make your face and name recognizable, and you’ll learn a lot too.
15. Say Yes to All Lunches and Networking Events
Be a “yes person” when it comes to lunches and networking events.
They give you chances to meet more people and build rapport with those you already know. If your boss asks if you want to go to lunch, always say yes.
Some like to pack their own lunch to save money. I get that, and I understand, but one thing I liked to do was imagine the return on investment (ROI) of doing certain things.
Sure, spending $15 on a lunch a few times a week isn’t the best when you are trying to save, but if those lunches are spent with someone important in the company (someone that could promote you), the ROI of that lunch is multiples in value compared to the money you could have saved by packing your own meal.
D. Taking Initiative
16. Let Your Boss Know You Are Looking for a Promotion
With the hectic schedule and lists of things to be done in a company, understand your boss may not have even considered that you were looking to be promoted.
During your mid-year and year-end reviews, you can tell him or her that you want to be promoted and move up in the company. Ask what you need to do to be promoted and you can receive valuable feedback and advice.
Expressing your interest in a promotion will at least alert your boss to try to push for an approved promotion to the company when they can.
17. Document Your Track Record
Document what you have done for the company. List out successes, improvements, and any type of value you have added in your current position. Try to give qualitative and quantitative examples.
By knowing what you have done for the company, you can present a valid case on why you deserve a promotion when that talk happens.
18. Find a Lineage in the Organizational Structure Where Odds of Promotion Are Higher
Many companies are composed of teams that have had the same Director or VP for 5 years, maybe even 10. If you are under their team, it can be difficult to be promoted when there is no position to promote you to.
Maybe you work in the Accounting department and there seems to be no way up the ladder. However, you know that there is an opening on the FP&A team. Your best chance to move upwards in this situation would be to pursue the position with FP&A.
19. Reach Out to Managers, Directors, Vice Presidents, and Anyone Else Around the Company
Going off the tip above, finding opportunities within the company takes more than just browsing open positions on the company’s careers page. The careers page doesn’t reflect the inter-workings of the teams. Maybe someone knows that someone else is going to resign or is likely to be let go.
Just as you would express with your own boss that you are looking to be promoted, also express to others higher in the organization that you want to move up.
They might have a position open for you themselves, or they might be able to connect you with someone who does.
Summary – Slow and Steady Path
As stated before, there is no overnight tactic you can implement to get a promotion. It is a slow and steady path that requires patience and consistency on your part.
Each of these tips individually may have a marginally positive impact, but when you implement them day in and day out, they all will greatly increase your chances at being awarded a promotion.