How to get the promotion you want and deserve

We all want to progress in our careers. It’s what drives our motivation and ambition. But it takes more than just doing your job. You must prove that you’re worthy of a promotion, show you’re ready for a new role and that it will benefit the company.

1. Have clear goals and make your boss aware of your successes

To progress your career, you need to know what you want to achieve to help you to understand what job roles can help you get there. Make sure these are realistic and strategic and that you have a back-up plan in case it doesn’t go as you hoped.

Once you know what your goals are, discuss them with your employer privately so that they can help you to achieve your goals. While talking to your boss about your ambitions, it’s important to highlight the benefit your progression will have on the business. Will it bring in more money, free up time for your boss or allow you to focus on more important tasks?

Consider how much of a salary increase you’re asking for. Rather than asking for a promotion straight away, start by asking for more responsibilities or oversight of people in your team so that you can prove yourself.

Be aware of asking for a promotion (and subsequently a pay rise) if the company is going through financial difficulties or is coming up to a period of low work.

2. Be good at your job

It should go without saying that you need to be good at your job to get promoted, but many employees spend too much time pursuing moving ahead in their careers instead of concentrating on their day-to-day duties. Remember that you’re being paid to do your current job role, therefore, you need to make sure that you do the best work possible rather than the minimum requirement.

Find the most efficient ways to complete your basic and reactive tasks (like answering emails, preparing for meetings, etc), so that you can complete your work to a high standard, while still having time to take on additional work that will make you look good to your employer.

Don’t be afraid to take charge when leadership is needed. This will demonstrate your ability to lead without needing the influence of workplace hierarchy to get things done. Approach your workday as if you already have the position you want by dressing smartly, delegating tasks and having the right attitude.

The way you take on challenges and tasks in your current job role will give your employees a good idea of how you will perform in your next role. Ensure that you have efficient processes which allows you to complete projects ahead of time. Demonstrate that you are calm under pressure and solve any problems which arise. Show commitment to your work; however, don’t be too indispensable otherwise you could risk being too perfect for your role to change it.

When possible, focus on the areas of your work that will make or save your business the most money. This shows an understanding of the business model and long-term interests of your employer. Employees who demonstrate this knowledge and capability at an early stage are more likely to get promoted.

3. Help others reach their potential

A great way to become recognised for a promotion is to be the leader among your colleagues. Offer to help them solve problems or complete their tasks. It will demonstrate a willingness and a genuine interest in helping others to succeed.

As well as supporting your colleagues, also ask your boss whether they need help with anything. They will favour anybody who makes their life easier and makes them look good; however, don’t be afraid to challenge their ideas if you have any doubts or questions. This will show your ability to think critically and shows that you can make decisions independently without being a “yes man”.

Demonstrating that you want to help others, shows that you care about the company and its employees as a whole.

4. Make your boss aware of your achievement

Your boss may not notice how great you are doing at your job unless they are actively looking for it. It’s important to keep them informed of what you’ve achieved. Let them know when you have solved a problem, made a process more efficient or helped an employee with a difficult task. Show them how valuable you are to the company. Have you brought in a new deal or saved time with more efficient processes, allowing more work to be done?

Be careful not to seem over-confident or boastful. Talk about your team’s achievements collectively to create a good feeling amongst everybody and demonstrate to your boss that you are an encouraging influence on others.

If you achieved something outside of work, you may like to mention that too. It will add to your character, show you are a well-rounded person and will emphasise your determination and willingness to challenge yourself in your personal life.

5. Continue to improve yourself

The work doesn’t stop once you’ve mastered your current job. There are always areas to improve. Learn a new area of business or improve the skills you already have by undertaking a development course or management training. This will demonstrate your ability to grow, juggle a course along with employment and drive to be a good employee.

A good starting point is to ask your boss and your peers for feedback so that you can understand your shortcomings and have the chance to improve on them. If there is somebody within the company who can act as a mentor, ask them for advice and tips for improving what you do. When you’ve spoken to your boss about your career goals, ask what they think you need to work on to help you to achieve them.

6. Be more than your job title

It is important to engage with the community at work to be in the front of people’s minds. Engaging with people on a social level also shows that you are invested in people and their successes, instead of coming across as if you’re involved with office politics or gossip.

Volunteer for extra roles in the office, like setting up a bake sale and taking part in social events. Use these times to connect with the influential employees that you may not usually have the chance to talk to and have the chance to tell them about your skills and achievements.

7. Have the right attitude

Doing your work well and being a sociable person isn’t enough. It’s how you do those things that will also have a huge influence on how you’re viewed within the eyes of your superiors. Make sure that you’re positive about even the most difficult or boring tasks because this will show that you enjoy your work.

Be easy to work with and form good relationships with other team members so that you’re seen as an approachable employee who others want to work with. Approach everything you do with confidence to demonstrate that you are a competent employee that needs a lower level of supervision.

Make sure you speak up and contribute to meetings and important discussions to show your understanding of the issues and highlight your ability to think strategically. However, ensure that you’re considerate with what you say, don’t say it for the sake of saying it. Remember to listen to others too. You have the opportunity to learn and it will demonstrate your ability to collaborate with others.

8. Show your respect for the business

Bosses don’t want to promote employees who are negative about their business. Make sure you demonstrate your belief in the business whenever possible. Share articles from coworkers online, post about vacancies in the business to attract more talented people and recommend your business to people you meet.

Talk positively behind your boss’ back. It’s likely they will hear about it. Mention your appreciation and support for their actions. It will not only improve their reputation, but also your relationship with your employees and management will improve and have a knock-on effect with your promotional opportunities.

Demonstrating that your priorities are aligned with the business and that you’re thinking about the long-term objectives within the company should put you in good stead for a promotion.

What should I do once I’ve got the promotion?

You may not be getting promoted at this very moment, but hopefully you’ve been encouraged to work towards it.

  • Once you’ve been offered a promotion by your employers, ensure you follow the meeting up with an email unless they get there first. This will help to confirm their offer and make sure that you’ve fully understood what your new role will be.
  • Be happy, but humble. Be careful of when and how you tell your fellow employees that you’ve received a promotion. Be proud of what you’ve achieved but don’t come across as boastful to your colleagues as they may have been hoping for the same job role.
  • Continue to do your best in your current job role. Now that you’ve been promoted to a higher job role, don’t let things get behind in your current job role. You don’t want to leave your current team in a bad position where they have a list of your tasks to do themselves but aren’t sure how to do them.
  • Keep a good relationship with old colleagues. If you are moving to a different department of the business, keeping in touch with old colleagues can be a great way to build a network and continue to establish a good reputation within the company.

Demonstrating that you want to progress in a company can be an effective way to show that you’re thinking of working there for the long-term and you’re committed to benefitting the company.

Contact our Programme Advisors for advice and information on our development and management courses.

An employee leading a discussion with notes on a whiteboard