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May 31, 2016

The Art of How to Get Promoted

Other than those of us already in senior management roles or living as entrepreneurs, most everybody wants to know how to get promoted. It’s not only a recognition of good work, but is a step forward in advancing your career and expanding your earning power.

Desire alone, however, doesn’t translate to outcomes. Getting promoted takes awareness, answers and action. It’s a nuanced process – more art than science. Promotions are never a guarantee, especially considering the varied factors that influence the ability of organizations to invest in their people and grow. That being said, if your not working intentionally to position yourself as highly promotable, then you’re likely to get passed over when opportunities arise.


  • Of Self: Increasing your promotability starts with taking a fresh look at yourself. How can you strengthen your skills, experience and personal brand without first knowing where you have gaps? These gaps can be in the form of important skills, qualities or experiences you don’t yet have. To add a dose of objectivity to your self-assessment, ask for feedback from colleagues, family and friends. They will either reinforce the gaps you see, or help point you in the direction of blind spots you can’t see.
  • Of the Organization: In order to navigate the social webs that exist in every organization, you need to become even more attuned to the interpersonal dynamics happening around you. Who are the most influential voices in your organization? What makes them influential? What type of performance is reinforced and recognized? What are the unstated values and norms that exist in your organization’s culture?
  • Of Value: When it comes down to it, getting promoted is about taking on more responsibility and adding more value to your company. Are you aware of the places where there’s both the most need and most strategic emphasis? How can you fit into those areas and be a part of creating new and increased value?


  • Opportunities: One of the most basic questions to answer is whether opportunities even exist at your organization for promotion. Have you talked to your supervisor lately about whether, and how often, your company promotes from within? What is the current status of your organization in terms of growth and investment? Is it in a position to be able to invest in its people? Does your department size and structure leave room for title advancement? Approach this type of discussion with your boss with curiosity, not expectation or entitlement.
  • Pathways: Once you know whether promotion is an option, you’ll need to ensure you’re crystal clear on what type of pathways lead to advancement. In other words, what is the chain of experience you’ll need in order to create the strongest resume? This is another good topic for curiosity and questioning, not only with your boss, but with others in the organization who hold more senior roles.
  • Important Definitions: Often times, we rely on our own perceptions and definitions of what makes a “high potential” or “rising star.” Guess what? You could be wrong. Your definition may be the least important. What you really need to grasp is how your boss defines these concepts. Get inside the head of your target audience so you can measure-up to their expectations.


  • Build Broad Internal Relationships: To broaden your influence within the organization, you’ll need to form key partnerships and connections. Go beyond your immediate team or division, and form relationships with other departments. The broader your influence across the company, the more varied the voices will be that can speak to your value.
  • Go Above & Beyond: It’s cliché, but it’s true. Team members who leverage next-step thinking and acting will be seen as more crucial to the success of the organization. Ultimately, this equates to excellence – doing every task with your best effort, and thinking beyond what was asked to exceed expectations. This, perhaps more than any other action described in this article, is powerful in securing your place as a “high potential.”
  • Raise Your Hand: Volunteer to participate on committees, task forces or other work groups outside of your role. This illustrates your proactivity, initiative, and desire to be a bigger part of your organization’s future success. When there are opportunities to take on new or innovative projects, raise your hand.
  • Hone Your Soft Skills: These skills are becoming more and more important in today’s ever-connected and collaborative workplace. They are focused around people and relationships, and can help you create stronger bonds and navigate the social network. These skills include listening, empathy, interpersonal ability, persuasion and communication.
  • Keep Learning: When it comes down to it, you have to take responsibility for your own growth. Seek out courses and training programs outside of work that will expand your skills and keep you on top of developing trends and innovations. Keep your LinkedIn profile and resume up to date with any new knowledge and/or certifications.

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