You’ve just started a new job–maybe not a dream job, but you’re optimistic. The company has great perks and lots of promise. One thing is certain: You want to move onward and upward. How do you go from being the new kid on the block to the new manager on the project?
Consider another scenario: You’re the not-so-new-employee at a small firm. Your career has stalled, and you’ve taken some unexpected turns. But you’re still smart, skilled, and hungry. How can you get your slice of the corporate pie?
As an old saying goes, “In order to have, you must be.” Oddly enough, many career experts dispense this sage advice to help plan for a promotion. Whether you want to take the lead position in a prominent division or simply make your talents known and valued within an organization, you must beworthy of a promotion in order to achieve it.
Promotion is an ongoing process that starts on your first day and continues endlessly.
Define Your Goals
“Think strategically”, says Mary Foley, author of Bodacious! An AOL Insider Cracks the Code to Outrageous Success for Women. Once an $8/hour customer service worker with Quantum Computer Services, Mary became head of its corporate training department–and Quantum Computer Services became AOL. What’s her secret? She started “charting a career path from day one.” Patrick Lennahan, Director of the Career Center at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, often gives graduating students the same advice: “Begin preparation as soon as you start work. Promotion is an ongoing process that starts on your first day and continues endlessly.”
Self-assessment is another critical tool to use to prepare for a promotion, whether starting a new career or a new career path. Try to improve on your current capabilities, and thus increase your chances for a promotion. Do you need certain skills to perform well in your desired position? If so, then try to acquire them. While a sparkling personality is a nice asset, companies depend on people with concrete skills (communication, handling multiple projects, technical, and teamwork skills) to get important jobs done.
As Emory Mulling, executive coach and chairman with The Mulling Companies in Atlanta, says: “If you know you’re lacking skills in a certain area, [just] ask for training.”
LaVerne L. Ludden, author of Job Savvy, agrees. “Always seek to improve your skills,” Ludden advises. “Identify the skills that are required to achieve the promotion you want. Engage in training opportunities and projects that will help you acquire these skills and identify peers and managers that are willing to help you acquire [the skills you need].”
Know Your Role
How do your abilities help the organization? You can answer this by understanding your supervisor’s standards, expectations, and values–as well as the values of the overall organization. “Pay attention to these things as you set goals and priorities for your work,” Lennahan says, “so that you can tailor your job to what they consider important. Then, do your best to consistently exceed your boss’s expectations on the job. In this way, you will show that you have the ability to handle greater responsibilities.”
Inform, Don’t Advertise
Market yourself. “Share how you’ve helped contribute to the organization’s goals via your accomplishments,” says Foley. And Mulling stresses doing this with written reports–it’s also an excellent way to keep a record of your accomplishments for any performance evaluation or professional.
“Write up summary reports,” Mulling adds, “detailing your activities on a project. Distribute the report to the project team and copy key management personnel.”
Finally, says Mulling, one must “always plan for the next step. Use the tactics mentioned above long before a promotion is expected. Don’t start doing these things once a new position is announced and expect to be chosen for the role. Career advancement is something you work on consistently, so when a promotion is available, you’re picked for it.”
If things don’t go as planned, at least you’ve honed your skills and gained more knowledge about your job and your company. You’re now more prepared for careerthan ever before. So, if you don’t get that promotion, don’t worry. Armed with an impressive list of accomplishments, you’re ready for the success that you deserve.