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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

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? How to ask for a promotion?

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

6 Steps for Career Advancement

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. Start with a Promotion Request

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.

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.

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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.

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

4. Give Yourself a Promotion First

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

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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.

5. 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.

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.

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6. 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.

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Christopher Alarcon

Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

  • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
  • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
  • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
  • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
  • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

1. Value Your Time Above Money

There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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2. Build a Network

Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

3. Believe It Is Possible

One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

“environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

4. Put Yourself Out There

You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

More Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
[2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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