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Published on October 15, 2018

How to Ask for a Promotion and Move up the Career Ladder

How to Ask for a Promotion and Move up the Career Ladder

I bet you’re thinking that you’ve reached the height of your career.

You’re scared to try new roles because you believe companies prefer younger employees. No matter which way you look at it, there’s no room to progress or a promotion. The problem is, that with this mindset you cut all chances of ever getting a promotion.

But you’re not alone. A study from Robert and Half revealed that only 39% of employees asked for a promotion.[1] So what’s the solution?

To create a plan.

This is easier said than done. But, if you work on the right tasks I’m confident you’ll get the promotion you deserve.

Let’s look into how to ask for a promotion and move up the career ladder.

The Power of Goal Setting

Your perfect plan will consist of writing down clear and concise goals.

Goal setting is the most important skill you can master to achieve any type of success in your life. Take this Hardvard study for example, where MBA graduates took a survey on goal setting. 13% of students who had set goals with no concrete plans were twice as successful than the 86% who didn’t set any goals.[2]

The interesting part is what happened to the 3% of students who’d set goals with concrete goals. These students were earning 10 times more than the 97% class combined.

Intrigued?

You should be. Goal setting can make or break your chances of reaching the success you desire.

Setting Goals the Right Way

The first step to setting any goal is by defining what you’d like to do.

Since you want a promotion, write this goal down in a journal. Next, break this goal down into micro goals.

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For example, ask yourself what’s required to land a promotion in your current role.

A great tool to break down your goals is Workflowy. For most of the goals you’re setting, you won’t have all the answers, but don’t let this stop you from making progress. If you’re ever stuck, make it your next step to find someone who can help you find the answers you’re looking for.

Finally, take time to reflect on your progress. In your journal, you’ll be able to view what’s accomplished and where you’re falling behind. I recommend you check your progress at the end of each week, month, and quarter.

This may seem exhaustive at first, but it’s intended to help you avoid heading in the wrong direction.

Here’s a summary of the goal-setting process:

  1. Clearly define what you want to do (i.e. Land a promotion in the next 12 months)
  2. Write your goal down in your journal
  3. Break your goal down into micro goals (i.e. take 1 hour of a specialized course in my field daily)
  4. Write down daily goals in your journal
  5. Review your progress each week, month and quarter to make necessary changes

How to Start Progressing in Your Career

Hopefully, by now you know how important goal setting is. It’s time to start learning the tactics that will help you get that promotion you deserve.

Although I’ll share several tactics to landing your promotion, it’s best that you only focus on 1–2 at a time.

This will prevent you from getting exhausted and help you master each tactic. Start by focusing on the areas you’re the weakest in and move forward from there.

1. Demand a Promotion

Demanding anything sounds harsh, but here’s why it makes sense to do so in your career.

Being demanding will allow you to speak up for yourself and not feel guilty for asking for a promotion. As mentioned before, a study revealed that more than half of employees didn’t ask for a promotion. That’s why being demanding is your ticket to ensuring you’re heard by upper management.

You don’t have to come off as arrogant or rude, rather be someone who knows their value. The problem is, you’re your worst critic. And, because of this, it can sometimes be challenging to focus on your positive qualities.

Here’s a solution:

Start writing down your daily accomplishments in a separate spreadsheet. Have columns for the date, type of accomplishment, and how you overcame your challenge. It may feel weird at first, but you’ll be building a personal database of your accomplishments.

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Make it a habit to review this spreadsheet each week to know what you’ve accomplished. You’ll quickly realize what value you bring to your team and the company. An added benefit for doing this is being prepared for your performance meetings.

2. Goof off in Your Free Time

Ever wondered why people who’ve worked the hardest sometimes don’t get promoted? It’s most likely because they’d failed to network with others in their workplace.

But don’t take my word for it. A Hardvard study revealed that lawyers who networked the best earned the most money.[3] These lawyers had a “promotion mindset”, while the others had a “prevention mindset”

People with a “promotion mindset” believe networking can bring them growth and advancement. And those in a “prevention mindset” believe that networking is a task they’re obligated to do. Even if you’re an introvert you can still be successful at networking.

So how can you improve your networking skills? By taking small action every single day. Network daily and don’t wait until you’re in need.

Networking involves building authentic relationships, so start by changing your mindset. Think of networking as building relationships first, and receiving help second. Make it a habit to improve your emotinal intelligence daily.[4]

As you focus more on providing value for others, you’ll begin to grow a strong supportive network.

3. Spend Money on Nice Clothes

Do you dress better outside of work or don’t really pay attention to what you wear in the office?

If so, you may be giving people the wrong impression. Research shows the clothes employees wear affect their chances of getting a promotion.[5]

So what should you wear?

The choices will vary, but wearing something professional is always the safe bet.

For example, wearing a dress shirt with slacks, and dress shoes is appropriate. If you’re currently wearing jeans and a shirt to work, this can improve the way your boss and team perceives you. But if you’re already dressing business casual, wearing a tie can be the next upgrade you make.

Your goal is for others to view you as the perfect candidate for a promotion. You don’t need to wear a suit to work every day unless it makes sense.

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Get into the habit of putting more thought into your wardrobe because everyone is watching.

3. Give Yourself a Promotion First

Before you receive any promotion, you have to promote yourself first.

Here’s what I mean:

Build a mindset that allows you to feel worthy of a promotion. If you don’t feel certain about getting a promotion, then why should anyone else?

Besides working hard to exceed your performance goals, prime your mindset with visualization.

Visualization is a technique psychologist have used for years. This technique has helped people reach their desired emotional states and life goals.

Start by visualizing the outcome of your promotion

You can visualize two types of stimulations, an outcome or process. Thinking of an outcome involves visualizing the end result of your goal. A process-based visualization involves visualizing the steps required to reach your goal.

For example, if you’re looking to get a promotion, imagine your boss congratulating you. Then visualize the steps you did to get there. This could be studying on the weekends to learn new material, or taking on extra to help your team.

As you’re visualizing, focus on feeling the experience to reap the most benefits. It can take some time getting used to, but the rewards will be worth it.

4. Work Less Than Most

Getting a promotion isn’t earned by working harder, it’s done by working smarter. By being productive, you’ll be more likely ot meet your work deadlines and manage stress better.

Productivity is a skill that most people put on their resume, yet fail to execute effectively.

Spend a lot of your time practicing productivity until you nail this skill down.

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Learn how to prioritize your work and delegate tasksFor example, if you’re struggling with a presentation, ask your teammate for help. Don’t spend hours trying to figure out how to create a PowerPoint slide.

Also, look for ways to optimize your schedule. For example, if you have 5 meetings booked in one day, ask yourself if they’re necessary. Often times, it’s more efficient to communicate via email than waste time in a meeting.

If you want to boost your productivity, here’re 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time.

5. Surround Yourself with Motivated People

“You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

You tend to pick up habits from people you spend time with the most. So, surround yourself with with people who have productive habits and drive. Listen to productive podcasts and learn from experts who are achieving massive success.

These experts have the same amount of time you do. And, if they were able to achieve massive career success, so can you.

Final Thoughts

Picture a Monday morning and feeling excited to start your day. These past few months have been exhausting but also rewarding. You now feel that there are many opportunities out there to help you advance in your career.

You’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, began networking, and now feel worthy of a promotion.

You’re a completely new person and are more confident than ever.

The best part is, your boss saying good things about you to everyone in the office. You know it’s only a matter of time before you get promoted.

Wouldn’t this be amazing?

This can be your reality if you’re willing to work hard to improve in the right areas. There’s no secret formula to achieving great things in life. It only takes hard work and determination.

You now have a mini blueprint on how to get a promotion and climb the corporate ladder. My guess is that most of the people reading this article won’t take action.

You’re not an average person. You’re an action taker. Now go get your promotion, it’s all yours.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Christopher Alarcon

Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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