How To Get A Promotion By The End Of The Year

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Leading upMoving on up. It's the American way. But are you sure you want to? Some people keep getting promotions or higher-level clients until they reach their level of incompetence. And some devotees of work-life balance would rather be just B players in exchange for personal time. The fact is, up isn't the only way. In fact, some people would be wise to stay put, to aim laterally, or even to downshift.

But let's assume that you want to fly higher. Here are my favorite tips:

Prep.

Before or during your campaign for ascendancy, should you get training, maybe even certification for the kind of work that you'd like to do? Should you -- as part of promoting the new you -- share what you're learning with co-workers, informally, or even in a meeting?

Prime your boss or potential higher-level clients.

Ask your boss or a person you'd like to be your boss what it will take to get promoted and whether it's realistic to expect that within a year. Similarly, ask prospective clients, what you need to do to gain them as a client.

Even if you're not trying to get promoted, but especially if you are, a great question to ask your boss is, "Is there anything I can do to make your life easier? Take something off your plate Commandeer some initiative?"

More:4 Traits Of Extraordinary Bosses

If you want to propose to lead a specific initiative, these criteria may help you decide which one to choose: Is it revenue-generating? High-visibility? In one of the organization's priority areas? In an interest area of yours? Does it use your strengths? Does it skirt your weaknesses?

Rather than ask your boss, is it worth the risk of -- on your own -- taking on the sort of project that could get you promoted? Sometimes, it's wiser to ask forgiveness than permission.

Look at what's out there.

Every organization has network nodes: People with fingers in many pies. They could, for example, be executives or staff people such as HR or IT managers, who often work in multiple parts of the organization. Email or meet with such people to get their advice on where and how you might move up.

Play around at your organization's website and intranet, or that of your prospective client. Pretend you're a detective: Sniff out pockets of opportunity for you. Is a newly announced initiative intriguing to you? Is there someone interesting who's just been hired? Look at newsletters for employees and those aimed at investors. Check out the most recent press releases. After you've found a project or person of interest, go direct: Phone or email your target a crisp explanation of why you're interested in working on that project or with that person, plus what you'd bring to the table.

More:Promotion Secrets: How The Corner Office Was Won

Build an army of support.

Try to get your colleagues and direct reports to support your ideas. But there's no need to be too tough or selfish. Indeed, most people who get promoted and get top clients are tactful persuaders and try to abet their peers' and subordinates' success, not just their own. Over time, you'll likely create an army of supporters.

Look the part.

Dress like people at the level to which you aspire, and have good posture. Helen Gurley Brown said, only half joking, "After 40, it all comes down to posture."

Spread the word, but not too forcefully.

Is there someone you trust whom you could ask to spread the word about the new more-promotable or more-hirable you? Or do you need to do the talking, for example, telling colleagues something like, "I just completed my project-management certification. I like my job, but when an opportunity comes up in project management, even just a temp project I could take on while still in my current position, I'd appreciate your letting me know about it."

Don't spend too much time on your campaign -- It can be seen as too willful and may evoke detractors, even saboteurs. And be patient. Do give it a year. There are only so many promotion slots and prime consulting gigs available. But follow even some of these tips, and you've certainly upped your chances of landing one.

How to Get a Promotion


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