Most of us aspire to do impressive things for our employer – ones that will bring respect, admiration and reward. That “reward” typically means a promotion or elevated status. So how do we get that reward, specifically getting promoted? There are a number of ways but I’m focusing on 3 in particular: get lucky, move around or expand your reach.
Sometimes being in the right place at the right time gets you promoted. The small company you are at explodes into a medium-sized company and you ride the wave of new hires up in rank and responsibility. It happens to some but counting on this “luck” lets a lot of people down. Your growing company may hire someone from the outside to sit above you or they may hire more people that sit on the same level as you. My advice: don’t count on luck; have a strategy for getting that promotion.
In some jobs, there is no hope to move up. Either your company is too small to warrant another layer in the org chart or your role at a company is so defined that there’s no real chance for you to get experience that will take you to the next level. The answer can be to change jobs. Often times, your expertise in a particular area at one company is significant enough to another company that they want you to lead a team or take a more prominent role with them. This could be a great move – go for it!
Before heading out looking for this perfect opportunity, keep in mind the perspective of your potential new company. First of all, they want someone in a role that has shown good performance in the role they are hiring for. In other words, you need to show that you can do the job. If you never did the job then why would they hire you for it? They may just be hiring for the same position and want your expertise. They may have a better title but the job isn’t different – this is common when moving from a big company to a small one. Also, watch out for changing companies, getting the title you wanted, but actually doing more low-level work than you did before. My advice: change jobs or companies when the current one has nothing left to offer and make sure you understand what role you’ll play in your new job.
Expand Your Reach
A proven way to improve your chances of getting promoted is to perform the job you want to get. “How on earth do I do that!?”, you’re probably wondering. Most people hope to get promoted by putting their head down and doing their job efficiently and accurately and hoping their efforts are recognized and rewarded. As we mentioned earlier, most companies don’t want to put someone in a position the person has never done before. If you do your job quite well, but that’s all, you aren’t gaining experience at the next level up.
Performing the job you want is implemented in a variety of ways. For example:
- Identifying a need your company has that isn’t being addressed and adding it to your job description.
- Creating a larger vision for your role at the company and driving that vision.
- Lead initiatives or projects rather than just contributing your piece.
- Take on one of your boss’ responsibilities helping him/her accomplish more. If he/she gets promoted so might you!
- Use internal resources (read: your co-workers) to take on responsibilities that all lead to solving a large problem or implementing a new solution.
We can summarize all the examples above with one statement: expand your reach. This means solving larger problems than your specific job might typically expose. It also means showing initiative to identify problems and resourcefulness to get others to take responsibility for solving those problems. When you do this, and properly document your results, you can present a very strong case for a promotion, either to your current employer or a prospective employer.