So you want to get a promotion…

You’ve been in your job for years. You have gotten solid performance reviews, met all requested and required metrics, show up on time and generally are well liked at work. So what gives?

Guess what? You have met precisely zero of the criteria most managers want to see in someone looking for a promotion.

So what to do?

Simply put, there are a few philosophical realities many people in the work force today aren’t always aware of.

A quick story…

I am reminded of a story a friend told me. He works in marketing for a large agency out of NY. Marketing, to first point out, is a bit of an ethereal world. It can be difficult to quantify value. So he took it upon himself some years ago, to send his manager a note every Friday listing what he accomplished that week, and what he is working on and planning for the following week. He has told me it is a ‘here’s why you paid me for last week, and why you should allow me to come back next week’ note.

It’s very prescient of him, and a bit of advice I have personally shared with countless of my direct reports and candidates over the years. There are no gold stars given for showing up. Tell me what you have done to go above and beyond.

Here’s the top 8 actions you can take to secure your shot at getting that promotion.


You don’t get a gold star for showing up on time.

Want a job? Great! Do your job, and do it well, and hopefully (barring other external factors) you’re assured continued employment. But remember that little direct deposit you get in your account every two weeks? That’s for doing your job, showing up on time and basically being a middle of the road performer.

Think you’re invisible at work no matter what you do?

Guess what, likely not. Surprisingly, even large, geographically disperse organizations are pretty aware of what their teams and team members are up to. If it should turn out that you are right, and do in fact find you are invisible. Get out. Find another job elsewhere.

Take on the responsibilities of the position you want (as best you can)

Want a promotion? According to most managers and executives I know, promotions are given, when the person in question has begun to exhibit the skills and responsibilities needed of that next rung in the career ladder.

What does this mean practically speaking?

Be clear on your personal career goals.

There is nothing wrong with having a position you are content with, and wanting to stay there, even if just for the time being. If that’s you, carry on, there’s nothing more you need to read here.

IF, however, you are looking to move up…read on.

You know the saying “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”

And no, not the meme of the guy who goes to work in a batman suit… In this case: Act as if you have the job you want, not the one you are in (but don’t forget those responsibilities either).

Most managers will far more readily consider promoting the employee that has gone above and beyond, than one just asking or applying for a promotion.

Don’t change your behavior today and expect a promotion tomorrow.

Managers are looking for consistent patterns of behavior over months or even years in some cases. Showing up earlier, and staying later for a week, isn’t likely to secure you that promotion you’re angling for if your history has been to punch in at 8:59, and punch out at 5:01.

Have a realistic perspective of yourself as a performer.

Numerous studies have polled people in work place… The results? The majority of people think they are top performers. How can this be? Simply stated, most people do NOT have a realistic view of themselves. Be different – know where you fit and stand in your organization. Decide if your future is there, or elsewhere.

Is this all hitting a bit too close to home? Have you tried multiple times for promotions and been unsuccessful?

It may be time for a self-assessment of your would-be value. It is entirely possible you may need to adjust your understanding of the expectations of your workplace, or what you are prepared to give to an employer. There are countless examples of people who found tremendous frustration working for others, but great success when they branched out to work for themselves. Perhaps this is you? Employers will demand a great deal from their workforce. You are either comfortable giving it, or not, only you can tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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