You Want A Promotion, But Do You Deserve One?

ways to get a promotionBy Rachel Farrell, Special to CareerBuilder

Everyone thinks they deserve a promotion. But how do you truly know if you deserve one?

"When it comes to career advancement, you want to stack the deck in your favor," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a recent press release. "While strong job performance and leadership skills will weigh heavily on prospects for upward mobility, employers will also look at whether the employee conveys an overall professional image both internally and externally."

Bad breath, disheveled clothing, piercings and tattoos ranked highest among attributes that would make an employee less appealing for a promotion, according to a June 2011 survey by CareerBuilder. The survey was conducted among 2,878 hiring managers across industries.

Most employers base promotions on a lot more than appearance. But every employer is different, and what one boss deems "promotion-worthy" is different than another.

For example, Maureen Nelson, manager of Adult Career Services for the Oakland Private Industry Council, a nonprofit workforce development firm in California, gives a lot of weight to attitude.

"I look for leadership. I look for people who volunteer, either to lead projects or to represent the organization in the broader community. I also look for attitude toward technology and innovation," she says. "I need people who will embrace change, not resist it. I look for positivity -- someone who says, 'How can we make this work?' not, 'That will never work.'"

Terry Henley, director of compensation services at Employers Resource Association, a human resources organization, says most bosses and employers take into account several factors when evaluating promotion potential, including:

  • Work performance: What is the employee's performance record in current and previous positions? Has he consistently exceeded those expectations?

  • Skills: Does the employee have the skills, training, experience and education necessary to succeed at the new position?

  • Attitude: What is the employee's attitude toward work? Is she willing to work overtime when necessary? Does she volunteer to help others? Is she positive toward peers, clients and end-users, and a good influence on the department's environment?

  • Eagerness to learn: Is the employee always looking for opportunities to learn more about his job, and those of his peers? Does he want to learn more about the company and how to improve himself?

  • Desire: Are the employee's expectations realistic? Why does she want a promotion? What does she expect the challenges of a new position to be?

Additionally, Henley says employers should consider seniority, current earnings and standout skills.

"[Consider] whether or not the candidate has any special skills that will make him especially successful in this position, or which none of the other department members possess," he says. "All personal biases and/or relationships must be eliminated from the consideration."

Knowing these things, there are ways you can assess yourself to know if you're worth of promotion. Nelson suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I volunteer for tough assignments?
  • Do I handle change well?
  • Am I focused on the future?
  • Do I display a positive attitude and never drag anybody down?
  • Am I efficient and effective and do I go the extra mile when I need to?
  • Am I engaged in my work?
  • Am I always looking for ways to grow in my role, in my career, in the organization and in my field?

Before you apply for a promotion, consider whether you possess the experience and training required, Henley says.

"Be prepared to support your candidacy with specific, point-by-point examples of how you meet each requirement," he says.

Another way to be considered for a promotion is to ask for one, Nelson says.

"If you're ambitious about moving up, let your boss know. Offer to locate and train a replacement. Your boss will hear about an opening before you will. See if you can't make him or her into an ally on your climb up the ladder," she says.

Of course, before asking for a promotion, you had better make sure you can support your claim that you deserve one. Nelson suggests you keep track of your accomplishments in a journal.

"I used to type one sentence a day in a file that captured what I did, especially if I reached any milestones. Once every week or two, I'd email a summary to my boss, along with questions for guidance or resources," she says. "It made it easy to distill that into a month-by-month document or a project-by-project document come annual-review time."

If you truly think you deserve that bump to the corner office, evaluate yourself honestly, from your attitude to your effort.

If you truly feel that you deserve that bump to the corner office, truly evaluate yourself, from your attitude to your effort.

Next:The Peter Principle: Why Incompetent People Get Promoted

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