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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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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More Resources About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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