Gunning for a promotion, are you? With the year a little more than half over, there’s still time to snag one before the end of it. In fact, instead of going about business as usual, waiting for your company’s performance reviews to roll around, you can set yourself up well now—today, tomorrow, and the next day—if you really want to get ahead.
1. Address it Head-on
Have a clear timeline in mind. Then demonstrate your achievements to date in your current role, being as specific as possible, and backing it up with data: Metrics are everything to a manager evaluating your impact.
Go in with status updates on projects you’re overseeing, and then ask what it’ll take to get promoted before the end of the year. Your boss will (hopefully) take this opportunity to consider how to help you advance your career at the company, and the two of you can put a plan in place.
2. Step Up While Your Boss Is Out
This advice relies on the assumption that your manager takes a vacation at some point, and when he or she does, this is when you take advantage of the absence to take on greater responsibility and gain respect that’ll ultimately prove you’re ready to handle more on a regular basis.
Go beyond what’s asked of you while your manager’s out, and it’ll quickly be apparent that you’re a leader too.
3. Up Your Wardrobe Game
There’s a reason why you wake up earlier and pay special attention to the intricate details of your attire on the day of an interview. From making sure your clothing’s wrinkle-free to ensuring that your shoes aren’t scuffed and your jeans aren’t ripped, you put your best foot forward in this first impression situation.
But it’s important to also maintain this professional image while you’re gainfully employed, especially if you want to move up. While focusing on clothes might seem trivial or superficial, style and aesthetics can boost your overall confidence, increase your comfort level, and lend you a positive can-do attitude that’s sure to impress those around you.
4. Check Your Ego at the Door
How’s your mindset, really?
The best managers are able to increase their skills and capabilities by seeing difficulty and failure as part of the process. If you can tame your own ego and place your need for constant recognition aside, you’ll likely find that you’re more patient, enabling you to show lower-level team members the ropes. What this does is send a message to the higher-ups that you’re a manager-in-self-training—and ready for more supervisory tasks.
5. Maintain a To-Done List
The point is to keep track of your accomplishments now, so you can make a strong case later. Instead of a to-do list, you want a to-done list.
Every time you finish a meaningful task, add it to a simple, bulleted list. On Fridays, take two minutes to look back and figure out which ones really made a difference in your work and toward the organization’s mission. Bold those and add them to a key accomplishments section at the bottom of the list.
At the end of each month, you’ll be able to look back at four weeks of key accomplishments and see what you did to move the needle to help make your case for promotion.
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6. Understand the Process
Determine if there’s an open role for you to be promoted into or if the company would create a new role. If it’s a new role, figure out what the precedent is. For either scenario, flesh out a detailed job description for your current job and for the position you want.
Make your intentions known, and ask your manager what skills you need to develop to get to the new place. Remember: No one is going to promote you just for the sake of it. It’s in creating more value for that you can demonstrate a winning case.
7. Don’t Be Shy
If this is what you want, you’re going to have to put it out there and make it clear that you're willing to work for it.
Have open conversations with your manager and connect with colleagues at your company who received promotions. Ask them about their paths and how they progressed. Get granular with your manager about the steps you’d need to take to get to the next level. Perhaps you could use a job description of that coveted role to help identify gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.
Seek out whatever tools are at your disposal, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And of course, once some concrete actions have been identified, sink your teeth in and go for it!
8. Increase Your Visibility
Communicate your successes. Don’t assume everyone knows the good work you’re doing. Your accomplishments and the perception of them, is often the determining factor of getting promoted.
It’s up to you to toot your own horn and make key people aware. This isn’t bragging, it’s accountability for your job performance. Each time you have a major breakthrough with a key prospect, exceed a client’s expectations, or close a deal, send your boss an email with highlights and metrics where appropriate.
When you have an ongoing record, it’ll be easier to make your case.
9. Make it an Ongoing Conversation
If you’re having regular check-in meetings with your boss, make sure you’re regularly discussing your career advancement and following through on action steps.
If you aren’t doing that and are simply running through tasks, pain points, and soliciting feedback, you need to rework some of the conversation so there’s no doubt as to your desire to progress within the company.
10. Conduct Your Own Mini 360-Degree Assessment
Make a list of people you trust, including managers, co-workers, direct reports (if applicable), internal and external customers. Explain to them that you’re gunning for a promotion, you value their opinion, and you’re eager for their feedback.
Ask them to tell you three strengths and three areas that you could develop to position you well for your next role. Try to get concrete, specific feedback that you can present to your boss with a note about the areas you intend to work on in the hopes that honing those will lead to your next role.
11. Quantify Everything
One of the best ways to position yourself for a promotion is to demonstrate your accomplishments and the impact you have at work. In order to do this in a way that can be evaluated for a raise or career advancement, you’ll need to quantify all of your achievements, large and small.
Write down details pertaining to your professional successes and the results of your work. Keep a record of projects completed, including quantifiable details such as how many, how much, and how often and include a go-forward plan for increasing results.
12. Increase Your Skill Set—at Work and Outside of it
Once you find out what’ll position you best for that promotion, seek out those new skills to add to your tool belt. Perhaps it’s representing the company on a board of directors. Maybe it’s a masters degree or certificate. Whatever it is, go for it! At the very least, you’ll have increased your skills for the next job whether it’s at your company or somewhere else.
Did you read all this and think to yourself, “Gee, I really don’t want to have to ask for a promotion? We have an article for that. We also have an article that outlines a three-step plan you can implement ASAP. Whatever you do, make sure you’re making moves that’ll push your career ahead.
Photo of person sitting at desk courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author