How to get a promotion

Earning a promotion is a wonderful thing. It’s an acknowledgment of your hard work, a step-up in responsibility and salary, and a gesture that suggests confidence in your work style and strategy. However, securing a promotion can be challenging, as there will likely be competition over senior roles and other candidates determined to beat you to it. Here are some key strategies on how to get a promotion, no matter what role or industry you’re in.

Take initiative

Be bigger than your role, and never expect that just doing the minimum will earn you a promotion. Like asking for a pay rise, to be eligible for a promotion you’ll need to show that you’re capable of taking on greater responsibility, that you’re not afraid of hard work and challenge, and that you’re engaged with the wider organisation. Try the following strategies to exhibit initiative in your role, and to better understand how to get a promotion:

Pursue available learning opportunities

Does your company offer free Excel training? Maybe there’s a job rotation program in place? If it’s relevant to your role, then get involved. This shows enthusiasm and dedication central to getting a promotion.

Challenge people in your team, offering innovative solutions

Be a leader in your team during meetings, project planning sessions and any review periods. Don’t be afraid to speak up and challenge process. This doesn’t mean you need to be dominating or speak just for speaking’s sake, but if you can offer ideas and suggestions that are considered and well-researched, you’ll get recognised for these valuable contributions.

Join a working group

This might be a group dedicated to increasing women’s participation in executive roles at your organisation, or a team working to map the range of technical issues affecting customers. However varied their purpose, working groups are a great way to meet a range of people from across the organisation and show you’re committed to improving how it operates. If working groups don’t exist, propose starting one of your own that contributes to greater efficiencies.

Get a mentor

When learning how to get promoted, mentors are invaluable. Mentors are an excellent source of guidance and experience, and can connect you with their extensive and influential networks. They may also be able to act as a reference for you, spruiking your abilities and selling you as the perfect candidate for promotion to key decision-makers.

How to get a promotion – will it be in, out or across?

Promotions are no longer just a linear move up the company ladder, and there are several ways in which you could be promoted, each of which come with their own unique benefits.

Internal promotion

This is the most common form of promotion, where you take on a new title, responsibilities and staff at your organisation. You may remain in your team, or move to a different department to assume your new position.

Key strategies: While internal promotions are most common, that doesn’t mean they come easily. Your work, participation in meetings and contribution to larger projects will be considered as parts of an ongoing application that requires an always-on approach. Make sure you’re consistently thorough and diligent in your appeal for an internal promotion.

External promotion

This promotion would see you move to another company where your starting position is more senior than the role you left. An external promotion is a significant acknowledgment of your experience and potential. Prepare to hit the ground running.

Key strategies: Make sure your resume and application clearly details your ability to go above-and-beyond what the role demands. Provide concrete examples of your consistent success and make it clear that you have drive and ambition. These are key elements you’ll need if a new employer is to feel confident that you have what it takes to join their team.

Lateral or sideways promotion

These promotions are to roles with similar titles, pay, and responsibilities, and can be either internal or external. As role types evolve and an increasing number of skills are deemed valuable across different industries, lateral or sideways promotions have become more popular.

Key strategies: When looking to be promoted laterally, make sure you show how your skills will be relevant and applied successfully in this new role. When discussing your application, detail your success in managing change and challenge. Express your passion for learning new skills and your enthusiasm for diversifying your network.

Make sure people know you want a promotion

It sounds obvious, but if you’re working away blindly hoping someone will notice and reward you with that sought-after promotion, think again. Make sure your colleagues and manager know you’re eager to excel and take on more responsibility. This shows you as upfront and ambitious, two important qualities found in leaders, and allows them to provide as much support as possible.

There’s no single approach to take when establishing how to get a promotion, but success stories tend to have the above elements in common. Always seize opportunities when they’re presented, and if they’re not readily available, be willing to make them for yourself. Every effort counts when it comes to getting promoted.

Take a look at our career development hub for more career tips and advice.

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