How to Get Promoted – 6 Tips

Job promotion is one key way to demonstrate continuing career success.  How to get promoted therefore should be a question you ask at every new company you join.  Why?  Because the key steps needed to getting promoted may not be the same at each company depending on the culture, leadership team, and how they evaluate candidates for promotion.  You should never assume that as long as you do good work, you will get promoted because unfortunately hard work alone cannot guarantee success.

Here are 6 tips I recommend on how to get promoted quickly at a company

  1. Make a good first impression – Because first impression can last a long time, start any job strong by building a good reputation fast with key influencers of the company – your boss plus other senior people that can contribute to the decision of your future promotion.   You usually have about 90 days to build your initial reputation.  Make them count because a major misstep in the beginning can be very hard to reverse later.
  2. Discover Promotion Expectations – Once you settle into a company, find out what are the criteria for promotion from your boss.  Approach him or her with a positive and open attitude.  Communicate your desire to excel and proactively find out what it takes to get promoted and when it could happen if you do well.  This communication does three things for you:
    1. Helps you find out the exact criteria for promotion, so you can work toward it.
    2. Understand the typical length of time it takes to get promoted
    3. Gives the impression that you are focused and want to excel.
  3. Demonstrated skills at the next level – Obviously you have to excel at your current position to be promoted.  That is usually a given at most companies.   Whether it is said or not, it is also important to develop and demonstrate skills at the next level to ensure promotion.  For example, if you are an individual contributor and the next level up is manager level where you would have to manage people, then you should already find opportunities at your current level to informally manage people.   It is a lot easier to get promoted if you can show your boss that you have the skill already than to convince him or her that you will be a good people manager.
  4. Proactively build a good relationship with your boss – This is important even when you are a stellar performer.  Let’s face it. Promotion is a subjective decision still and people still rather promote the person they like and are similar to them.  So if there are more than you in the team who performs well but you have a closer relationship with the boss, you will get promoted.  c’est la vie.
  5. Build a personal “board of advisers” – Companies all have board of advisers.  Why? so that they can get great strategic advice from people with diverse experience.  You should follow that example and build your own personal “board of advisers”.  They can tell you the informal scoop on how to get promoted.  Your board of advisers are senior people that can include your boss’s peers, people senior to your boss, as well as people outside your company.  Usually 5 people is sufficient.  You want to build relationship with those you respect, have the experience to provide sound advice, and want to help you with your career.  With these people, you can ask them to be your mentors.   But not all people on your “board” have to be a mentor as it’s hard to find many good mentors. Others can be on your board for politic reasons.  By this, I mean you want to figure who has your boss’ ear and build a good relationship with that person.  Make sure that person thinks highly of you using subtle self promotion and this will help with your career progression.
  6. Proactively check in on your progress – Lastly, it’s also important to directly check in with your boss periodically (every 3 to 6 months) on your performance.  You never want to assume you are on track unless you hear it from your boss as he / she can have different perception of your performance than your own.  By proactively asking for feedback, you demonstrate initiative; you will get a chance to find out what areas you still need to improve to be on track for promotion; and you will remind your boss that you want to be promoted and expect it if all goes well without directly saying it.

By following these 6 tips, you are doing yourself a favor, making sure you are recognize for the good work you do and getting promoted according to your expectations.  Best wishes to your career success!

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Your comments: Do these tips help?  Did I miss any?  I look forward to your comments below.  Thanks.  I am always in your corner.


3 thoughts on “How to Get Promoted – 6 Tips

  1. TheResumeBuilder

    Building good relationship with the boss is one key to help you get the promotion you wanted. One must always keep good relationship with boss because whether we like it or not the boss always has the ‘say’. As quoted “Promotion is a subjective decision still and people still rather promote the person they like and are similar to them”.

  2. Troy Breiland

    Great advice on getting ahead in a progressive company. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to go outside of your existing organization to advance your career. To test the water, I would highly recommend joining an Expert Network like Maven Research, Gerson Lehrman Group, or Cognolink. Expert networks connected experienced professionals with investors, individuals, and companies looking for advice on a particular product, service, or market. Engagements are generally conducted over the phone, pay well, and are a good opportunity to network with decision makers in your industry.


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