Grab That Promotion! Six Tips to Tackle Your Career Climb
If you think you can get a promotion or a raise in this economy -- when you should be grateful just to get a paycheck, let alone a bigger one -- you just might be right. Your dreams of career advancement, higher pay, more fulfilling responsibilities and yes, that feeling of accomplishment, respect and elevated self-esteem, could become realities if you play your cards right -- even during these challenging and highly competitive times.
But you can't be timid, and you can't be weak. You have to be brave and smart enough to sell yourself and your abilities to your employer. No one else is going to do it for you, and no one else can do it better. Here's a solid plan to positively separate yourself from the pack... and bring the boss's attention to you and you alone and finally grab that promotion.
1. Update your resume.
This is often the most obvious plan, and yet one of the most neglected by employees. It's usually a last-minute chore when you're either seeking a new job or have been laid off. However, doing this while you're still in a job you enjoy offers other benefits. Updating your resume helps you process and reevaluate your thoughts, newfound abilities and accomplishments. You may be surprised at the new skills and responsibilities you've learned -- things that may have been forgotten while toiling on the treadmill. Plus, it's always important to have an updated resume on hand if you're going to be applying for greater responsibility or a higher position in management.
2. Apply for open management positions.
Again, the obvious move is often the one most overlooked. While applying for such a position should be a no-brainer, many employees feel intimidated to apply or feel complacent in their current position. Others may assume the boss already knows what they're capable of, so if he or she has posted the position without directly offering it to them, the boss isn't interested in them for the job.
While that is always a possibility... it's unlikely. Employers are individuals with unique ways of doing business. They may be posting the position in general, to see who is truly motivated to apply and lobby for that job. Your boss could see your aggressive pursuit of the posted job as an indication you'll be an effective and aggressive manager. The bottom line is to apply, both internally and externally.
If your boss is looking for someone to run a meeting or to take notes, don't be a wallflower and let someone else get the glory. Immediately say yes. In fact, don't even wait for the boss to ask for a volunteer. Offer your services proactively: Write up a proposal, make a summary, even plan the office party, or whatever else might be helpful. The goal is to increase your visibility and highlight your professional abilities in an open setting.
4. Tell your boss you would like a promotion.
This takes courage and isn't always easy. However, no one knows your skills or professional desires better than you do. You need to act as your own agent -- except if you succeed, you get to keep the 10 percent commission. Also, most managers don't lay awake at night trying to figure out how best to promote their people. They already have a job to do and, realistically, part of that job is not to make sure your career skyrockets. That's YOUR job.
You need to speak up for yourself with confidence and say to your boss, "Here are the positive assets and accomplishments I've brought to this company. I've proven my leadership skills on this project and that project and the key project last month. I feel I'm ready to move into a managerial position with more responsibility. What do I need to do to make that happen?"
5. Speak the truth.
Now this may involve some mild bragging on your part. But again, part of your plan is to be aggressive without being abrasive. Emphasize your ability to handle and cooperate with others in higher positions of authority. For example, if there's a person who is being difficult and you can win them over, say " I'll talk to Alice about this. I have a good rapport and track record with her."
There's a term that's now in vogue in some business circles: HIPPO or "Highest Paid Person's Opinion." If you have the skill to handle a VP who wanders into a meeting and wants a ridiculous change, that's an amazing asset. So be honest with your management and let them know that you are skilled at handling it when a HIPPO appears to ruin the project. Of course, be sure to not identify them as HIPPOs. Even though most HIPPOs are oblivious to the destruction and confusion they cause, it's perhaps not the best career move to openly compare these folks to a huge zoo creature.
6. Take a co-worker to lunch and ask for help.
Good food is not only good for the soul, it also makes people more willing to help. Your co-worker is someone who sees you in action. Share your career plans with a trusted co-worker. Ask for their opinion on what your skills are and where those skills could be improved upon. Since much of your success may have come while working with your peers, your co-workers may have better insight into your assets and faults than your boss does.
Bottom line: To grab a promotion, your career destiny is in your own hands. Your desired goal and position will not magically drop into your lap. You have to have a plan and the drive to make it happen. Reach out and grab it with both hands. Good luck!