How to Pursue a Promotion

A friend recently lamented that she did not get a change in job title that she was expecting.  I asked her what she had done about it, and she told me that all she had done was mention to her boss that she wanted a promotion.  I congratulated her for being earnest with her superior because it’s important to make your interests known, but I was surprised she had done little else.  

Career development is every person’s own responsibility.  Do not expect anybody else to do the leg work for you.  In my experience taking the three steps listed below will help you secure the promotion you want within one to two years (I know this seems like a long time, but most large companies only have 1-2 promotions per team per year and many people competing for them).

  1. Know what job you want.  You must know where you want to go before you can map out the steps to get there.  Once you decide on the position you want, watch people who currently perform at that level.  Get a sense for how their responsibilities differ from yours.  If you can, contact your HR department for  a formal copy of the job description to better understand these differences.  Another option is to approach somebody doing that type of work and ask for his advice or perspective on how he does his job.
  2. Begin collecting evidence that you are capable of doing the job you’re requesting.  Start by pursuing projects and tasks that align with the job you want.  Also decide if you need to broaden your partner relationships in order to be successful in the new title.  These actions show your committment, but they also give you a better sense on if you actually want the job you are pursuing.
  3. Make your case by drafting a business justification for your own promotion.  I’m a firm believer that it’s my job to make my teammate’s lives simpler.  This is especially true for my boss.  Therefore it makes sense that I would produce any content for my boss to justify and secure my promotion.

Essentially my recommendation is to take the old addage of “dressing the part” to the next level by demonstrating that you can do the work.  Some may argue that you shouldn’t do a job until you are paid to do that specific job, but I hold with the idea of producing entrepreneurial gaps as a method for increasing success.  This gives both you and your leadership improved confidence in your abilities and makes the question of a promotion a no-brainer!

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