How to get promoted at work
Filed under: Career
So how do you impress your boss and take that next step on the career ladder?
Promotions aren't handed out lightly so if you want to get ahead, be vocal about it. "In the current tough economy, employees feel lucky to hold onto their jobs and are petrified to rock the boat," explains James Lock, CEO of city recruitment firm, Communicate. "But employers are petrified too, of losing good staff and not having the budget to replace them."
Good companies want to keep good employees, so have faith and confidence in your ability and start to build your case to grab the next rung on the ladder.
Get the skills
Your skill set is key to determining if you are ready to step up, so become familiar with the requirements of the job you want and what skills you need to improve upon to get there.
"Identifying any gaps in your skills is vital so you can plug the hole with further qualifications or training to get ready for the next step," explains Jennie Hopkinson from Learn Direct. "If your company doesn't offer this internally, it may be up to you to fund a course and study in your own time. Online courses are great for this as you can study at any time to fit around your life."
Hone your soft skills
Technical skills are simple to identify and build upon, whereas less tangible 'soft skills' can be trickier to improve on but are just as important in the workplace, particularly in management. "Try to look objectively at your competency in communication and team work; negotiation and presentation, plus any other soft skills relevant to your industry," advises Hopkinson.
Lacking in these areas could be a deal breaker for promotion, particularly if you are in competition with other colleagues, so look for ways to improve, such as becoming an informal mentor to a newer employee, or volunteer to lead a presentation or training programme.
Ask for advice
If you are unsure about what you need to do to get ahead, arrange a meeting with your boss: let them know you're interested in moving up and ask advice on how to get there. "Being proactive and showing iniative is the only way to get ahead," says John Salt, director of Totaljobs.com. "You won't get promoted for length of service or just doing your job."
Try asking to take on extra responsibilities or further training for example, and put a timeframe in place to improve your professional profile and review your readiness for the new role in future.
So often is the case in business that it is not what you know, but who you know, so it is important to get to know key people and decision makers in your organisation. "Talk to other departments about how you can help them or help to build better communications and processes with your own," explains Lock.
Internal networking will help to raise your profile within in the business and keep you in mind with key players when new opportunities for promotion arise.
If you believe you are already equipped and ready for the next rung on the ladder, prove it to your boss. "Where possible, start doing the job you want to do, in addition to your current role," advises Salt. "This is the easiest way to get promoted as it shows your boss exactly what you are capable of."
Make yourself indispensible and go the extra mile. Are there ways you can make your boss's work life easier or help to grow the company, increase revenue or save it money? "Anything that helps the company's bottom line will go a long way to improving your worth and visibility at work, particularly in the current economic climate," adds Andy Dallas, director of financial recruitment specialists, Robert Half.
Pitch it well
When you are ready to talk to your boss about promotion, arrange a meeting at a quiet time of the day, week or month to ensure you get their full attention. "Approach the meeting like an interview, but where you are in control," advises Salt. "Confidently and calmly explain what you want and why you deserve it – flagging up your achievements, performance and experience with solid evidence of facts and figures."
Take time to prepare your case and try to anticipate any questions or opposition your boss may have. "Think about potential successors for your role if you move up," advises Salt. "The key is to make it as easy as possible for your boss to promote you, so they think: 'Why not?'"
If you don't get the answer you hoped for, ask for feedback and use it to move forward and devise a strategy to get to where you want to be. "Try not to get defensive or emotional if your request is rejected," adds Dallas.
"Instead find out exactly why and turn the answers it into a positive plan of action. Get to work and arrange a time to review your performance again in the next quarter or in six months time."