10 ways to improve your promotion prospects

You’re working hard, getting stuff done, getting good feedback from your manager and colleagues – so promotion will surely be headed your way, right? Wrong. OK, you might be lucky: the right opportunity appears at the right time. For most people who get promoted, there’s more judgement than luck involved in getting that promotion. ‘I deserve it’ isn’t enough.

1.Take a reality check
Get the job description of the role you seek and assess yourself against it. Do you tick all the boxes? Don’t fret if you don’t tick all of them (and research suggests you’re female if that’s so) – aim for 70% before you have a conversation about promotion. Do your homework.

2. Talk it through with your manager
You’re unlikely to get promoted without the support of your manager – or managers – so discuss promotion with them. I’m hoping you have regular 1:1s or catch-ups with them so the opportunities already exist. If not, prepare thoroughly and ask for time to talk.  Seek their feedback, as well as their advice – they may support you by getting a coach.

3. Add value
We can easily slip into a habit of sticking with what we’re good at – rather than finding out what it takes to get promoted. Identify ways in which you can add value: to your team and colleagues. Or in the words of a wise mentor, “Find what needs fixing. Then fix it.” All too often I see people rushing to fix things that don’t need fixing – beware that temptation. How can you make efficiencies in everyday tasks? How can you save people’s time and your employer’s money?

4. Talk with your mentor
Mentors typically have more experience than those they mentor. If you’ve got a mentor in your organisation, ask if they’re happy to act as a sounding board for your ‘case’ to be promoted. Don’t have a mentor – yet? This post will help you get started, not just with a mentor, but also on building your ‘personal board’

5. Master a skill or specialism
It could be presenting, writing, developing others, analytics, innovative strategic ideas, or anything else that is needed in your workplace. As you master a valued skill, you can boost your personal brand by teaching others. Share your expertise.

6. Get sponsorship in the organisation
Don’t be a creep: just trying to charm senior people for their support of your promotion campaign will probably backfire. Instead, develop the habit of asking senior people you interact with in your everyday work for their advice about live issues. How can you improve what your team delivers to theirs? What’s a small tweak that could make a big difference? Then be sure to act on that advice.

7. Take responsibility
Step up and be held accountable for the work you and your team deliver. Keep your manager informed of progress and what next steps you’ll be taking, when. Take pride in the work your team does.

 8.Take on a stretch assignment
Smart employers use stretch assignments to challenge people with potential. Find out if this encouraged where you work and keep an ear to the ground for possibilities. You’ll learn heaps from leading or working on a pitch or a business-critical project such as working on new systems. Ensure that expectations of your time are managed so you don’t end up with two demanding jobs.

9. Seek a secondment
Having worked on secondment, I can recommend this as an eye-opener, full of insights and opportunities. You will broaden your experience by working in a different team and/or location. Many large employers offer secondments and advertise them internally, so keep your eyes open.

10. Support your team’s performance
When you raise the performance of those you manage, everyone rises up the organisation ladder. Give your blessing when people take up training courses and give them the vital opportunities to apply what they’ve learned when they’re back at the job.


You may find this blog post useful: ‘Jealous of your newly-promoted colleague?



Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’







Image credits:

Business Woman climbing ladder of success – @awittaya-Depositphotos

Man running upstairs – @rastudio-Depositphotos

People with speech bubbles – @danielala-Depositphotos

Business woman running up the career ladder – @rastudio-Depositphotos

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