Passed Over Again…
How Do I Get That Promotion?

by: Ian McEwen

In our executive search practice, we see many people who have become disillusioned and frustrated with their current jobs. The event that often triggers a call to our office is the lack of advancement – the promotion that went to a colleague.

Remember, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.”

Promotions in today’s business climate are not based solely on seniority. The reason you are not getting a promotion may be that your competition is getting the notice and attention. Your job is to ensure your supervisor is recognizing you as a top performer and a valued employee.

If your objective is to advance your career, here are some thoughts that will help you realize your goals.

  • Is this the right company and the right time? Evaluate your employer and look at the history of promotions and how often they occur. Do you have a great boss and work with great people with strong ethics, and is the company going places? Is the company expanding or is there eminent staff reorganization? You need to ensure you have a fertile environment to advance your career.
  • Assess your capabilities and interests. Take stock in yourself and know your own capabilities. If there is synergy in the things that get you excited and your on-the-job responsibilities, your attitude and performance will be noticed. If you did not get that promotion, perhaps you did not have the skill set to assume a higher role. A self-assessment will identify areas that you need to improve to build your eligibility for future advancement. Whether it is more education, computer skills or management techniques, set a plan in place to correct the deficiencies. If your employer has training support, or volunteer opportunities, take advantage of them. And, make sure your boss knows that you have learned new skills that go beyond your current position.
  • Over deliver. Promise a lot but deliver a lot more. It doesn’t matter what the job or the project. Giving a little extra goes a long way. Never take the easy way out. Get to work early and stay a few minutes late. Supervisors look for people who contribute over and above their own job responsibilities. They look for people who challenge themselves and stretch beyond their primary role. Assuming tasks that typically fall outside your current workload, can earn you recognition from those who might otherwise overlook your day-to-day contributions. Be active in a supportive and cooperative manner. But, be careful not to step on other people’s responsibilities.
  • Make your boss look good. Like you, your boss has certain goals and objectives. Make sure you understand what those goals are, and keep them in the back of your mind as you perform your daily functions. Pay attention to how the boss wants things done, and do things their way as best you can. What you are doing is earning the boss’ approval. There is no problem in making constructive suggestions and sound arguments in a positive, respectful manner. You want to have the image of a team player and one who cares about the company. Recognition for a job well done goes two-ways. When appropriate, give credit to your boss for department or individual successes.
  • Use performance assessments to your advantage. Most successful businesses are constantly evaluating their products and the customer service deliverables. The biggest customer in your work-world is your supervisor. Generally, they are the ones in control of your compensation and your career path. Regardless of what your boss says, review your own performance every month and ask for the help you think you need. Ask your supervisor what skills you need to improve, which will get you on a higher rung of the career ladder.
  • Demonstrate strong organizational skills. Keep and update regularly a “things to do” list. Prioritize your list with the projects that have the most impact. Don’t start with the easy projects or organize them by the date they arrived on your desk. Accomplishing the important things first in a timely fashion will show your boss that you can manage your time effectively. It is probably a good idea to email your boss a weekly status report, which outlines major accomplishments and prioritizes ongoing projects.
  • Find a strong ally. We are not talking about schmoozing or being phony. We are talking about mentoring with someone who is in a position to which you aspire. Your mentor is probably someone who has “been there, done that” previously. They often act as a coach, trainer, and counselor. This association will help you do your job more effectively and progress your career. They will give you valuable insights into your organization and what it takes to get that promotion. They usually have a direct impact on career moves. And remember to use your listening skills. We tell people to “shut up and listen when you don’t know 110%”.
  • Be a team player. People who are advancing their careers are generally the ones that attract attention not the ones that emit attention. Nobody likes to work with a negative person. Stay upbeat and cheerful in your interactions with others in the workplace. Managers know who the team players are. Don’t underestimate the importance of participating actively in company activities, such as holiday social gatherings, family sports days, or charity drives. If you can’t mix well with people, chances are you won’t get the opportunity to manage people in the workplace. This is a good way to enlarge your circle of colleagues and develop camaraderie with other employees. It’s a way of making ultimately valuable new contacts within your organization.
  • Dress for the job you want. There are a lot of companies today that have casual dress every day and even more casual dress on Friday’s. Look and act like you deserve and have earned that promotion at all times. Dress more professionally than the rest on Friday’s. Avoid wearing jeans and sneakers. People who get promotions not only put in the time and earn recognition, they look the part.
  • Self promotion. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back. There is no harm in telling your boss about your accomplishments as long as it doesn’t sound like bragging. Make sure your sound bites are specific to your own contributions and not the work of others. And, above all, don’t be ashamed about telling your current boss that you are looking for a promotion.

Following these guidelines will help you to hone your career management and communication strategies. You will place yourself in a leading position for advancement and earn your boss’ stamp of approval.

Call us about your career placement or recruiting needs:
office 905-290-0911 or toll free 1-866-627-2547