Throughout my career, I have seen my colleagues get angry when they aren’t chosen for a promotion. They truly believe they are the best person for the job, so when the company hires someone external for the position or, even worse, a colleague of theirs who has less experience gets the job, they get extremely angry and resentful.
A majority of these disappointments result in them leaving the company within the next year.
It’s important to remind yourself it’s not your fault, as workers have repeatedly been taught that seniority and putting in good work are the main factors for getting promoted. However, this is not the only case. There are other factors in play that you need to manage and be proactive about in order to consider yourself in the running. Here are a few to get you started.
Get the ball rolling early
Begin a conversation around a promotion with your manager at least 6-12 months in advance. Contrary to what you may believe, managers aren’t mind readers, and promotions aren’t given randomly with year-end reviews. You have to have a proper discussion with your manager about what you want to do and where you want to go.
If you have a good relationship with your manager, he or she will do what they can to help you get there. I started off my career as a marketing assistant at a digital marketing agency and told my boss, the company’s founder, right from the start that I wanted to get promoted to marketing coordinator and discuss a plan for how to get there.
By letting him know that’s what I wanted—and by doing good work, receiving regular feedback, and reminding him about my goal of getting promoted—I ended up getting that promotion in half a year.
Bring additional ideas to the table
Just doing what you are told will make you a good worker, but higher-ups expect more from their leaders. They want leaders who bring new ideas to the table to improve the company. Your ideas should fall into one of these three categories:
- How to help your company make more money
- How to save expenses and cut costs
- How to make the company more productive and efficient.
Aim for visibility
Your manager can’t back you up if no one outside your team knows who you are. Visibility comes in multiple forms, whether through being vocal at meetings, offering to lead presentations, or, yes, even going to optional social events after work to mingle with upper management.
In my first job, I not only attended every social event but stayed at these events for most of their duration, building rapport with all the influential people at the company, which resulted in me getting promoted multiple times.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you are your own business and you need to position yourself as a person of service. Treat your manager and colleagues as your clients. Over-deliver, show that you have their back, and the rest will fall into place. With this mindset you will, on occasion, need to work past 5 p.m., but if you want to get ahead at a company sometimes you need to put in the extra hours. Many professionals who are at a rank of manager and up tend to work past 5 p.m., so that’s something to think about if work-life balance is important to you.
Remain positive and show enthusiasm
People want to work with people they want to hang out with. If you have a negative attitude and are a part of gossip or workplace politics, it doesn’t matter how good your work is, it will be very hard to get promoted. As the saying goes, it only takes one negative person to kill the morale of a team. Executives want to know that you can do the job, but they also want to see whether you can be a positive influence on the team, resulting in better performance.
By thinking ahead and targeting opportunities as they arise, you can land yourself a promotion more easily and quickly than you realize.
Max Chan is a career coach in Toronto specializing in job search strategies to help professionals land their next opportunity. Find his free monthly newsletter on his website for career advice and job search and personal-branding tips.