Working Hard Isn't Enough: 4 Ways to Score a Promotion
By Marcelle Yeager
That said, you should not rely on your manager to help you get promoted. She is concerned with her own advancement in the company, and her staff's job is to do their work well to make her look good for that very purpose. Think of making your own progression happen as part of your day-to-day job, and there's only one person who can help you bring it to fruition: you. In order to do it effectively, you must track your work and achievements in a deliberate way, and know when and how to move your agenda forward.
1. Keep track of your accomplishments. Depending on your preference, choose Word or Excel and start a log of your achievements. Note project or event dates, a short description of what you worked on and what came out of it. If you can quantify parts of these descriptions in any way, do so. If you receive thank-you or congratulatory notes via email, save those files in a success folder on your computer. You may choose instead to consolidate them and copy and paste them into one Word file for the success folder. If you get such correspondence in hard copy, scan it and save it in that folder as well.
2. Log professional development activities. You should keep a separate file or tab in an Excel spreadsheet to record your educational endeavors. Track dates, names of courses and locations for on-the-job training, classes and events attended. If you received certificates or licenses, file those in the success folder.
3. Set the stage. Now that you have your accomplishments in working order, you need an effective method to broach the subject with your boss. The best way to do this is to plan ahead. Do not wait for your review to come around. How often has your annual review been postponed or not even happened? You also don't want to come in and surprise your boss when it does. By the time of your review, decisions have almost always been made, so you need to set the stage well ahead of time.
Ask for a six-month review (even if it's informal) and an annual review to keep your manager informed of your achievements and career goals. In addition, you should tell her that you are working toward a promotion for the next cycle. If you don't work directly with her on a daily basis, and you don't already do this, you may want to send a quick summary to her weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. Do not focus on simple tasks. Focus on results. If you are looking to move up in your role or be promoted, you need to focus on tangible, quantitative results.
4. Be flexible. During an informal discussion ahead of your review, ask what tangible goals you must meet in order to get promoted when the time comes. Inquire as to what you are doing well and where you can improve. Is there training you need to complete to get to the next level? Once you have a list of things that you need to achieve, you can then go out and do them before review time. You should agree with your manager that you intend to achieve those milestones prior to your review and will let her know when they are completed and provide complete information about each one.
Don't assume your manager knows your career goals if you don't have that discussion. Insist on doing it early in your tenure and outlining job expectations on paper, even if a formal process does not exist. Keep in touch with regular updates on achievements and make sure your boss knows ahead of time that you've met all the requirements for promotion. At six months and one year, ensure that a review occurs. After all, promotion is your job. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you.