6 Ways to Put You on the Fast Track to Promotion

Do you have your eye on a promotion?  Trying to figure out how to get the next big role?  Good news – your pathway to promotion is completely in your hands!  But it is going to take some legwork to get there.  Are you ready?

Typically when a position becomes available, the leaders of your company either already have a short list OR they go into a room and brainstorm by throwing out names of people they think would be successful.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still important to shine during the interview process, but the first step is getting your name on the short list.

With that in mind, there are a few things you should be doing regularly to get yourself on the short list for the promotion you’ve been wanting—and the one after that, and the one after that…

1. DETERMINE YOUR UNIQUE SKILLSET AND BECOME FAMOUS FOR IT

The first step in this process is to spend some time truly reflecting and evaluating yourself. What roles have you excelled in? What projects have interested you most? What are you known for?  Pick an area and specialty to differentiate yourself in—and define yourself by it.

This does not need to be some kind of complicated branding statement about who you are.  Try to identify something that is valued by your company, and make it your brand.    For example: Jeff is great at managing projects. Chris is great at getting activities completed. Tyler is great with financials.  Elizabeth keeps the team motivated and on track.

2. BUILD YOUR OWN NETWORK OF CHAMPIONS

When a development opportunity becomes available at a company, more often than not, the leaders already have some type of succession plan.  So by the time the job becomes available, it may become too late to start marketing yourself.  So you need to make sure that YOU are on that succession plan!

Succession plans are done differently at every company but the best way to make sure you are considered is to get to know the leaders of your company in various disciplines—and actually build relationships. Reach out and ask if you can get 30 minutes on their calendar to meet and get to know more about them, their role, and their career.  Make sure you come to the meeting prepared to discuss your background, accomplishments, interests and aspirations.  This is your personal pitch on why you should be considered for the next promotion.  And to find out what you can work on in the meantime.

After your meeting, whenever you have a chance to interact with those leaders, use those opportunities. Every time. Whether it’s with smart, concise contributions at meetings, a well-constructed question at a town hall, or just a smart remark in the hallway, building a relationship takes consistency.

Note: Don’t forget to loop your current boss in on your aspirations, and let them know why you’re reaching out to other managers. No boss likes to be blindsided or undermined by conversations they aren’t aware of. If possible, your boss should be your biggest champion and feel invested and involved in your career progress.

3. RAISE YOUR HAND FOR A HIGH PROFILE PROJECT

Keep an eye out for projects that you know will make you shine. Better yet, come up with an idea that could make a difference to your company and pitch it.  Find something to highlight YOUR unique skillset and prove your value!

The more you can find ways to add value—especially voluntarily—the stronger your brand will become. And, the more people throughout the organization who get to know you and what you’re capable of, the more your name will come up when opportunities for promotion arise.

When the time comes to lead a project, pick a clear, ambitious but achievable objective for your team. Then tell everyone—your team members, your managers, your peers. Track progress. talk about it every day.  Sticking close to the numbers keeps everyone focused, but it’s also great for your personal brand. Everyone will remember you as the person who contributed $X million to the company, or brought in 23 new customers, or increased social media followers by 400%.

4. SINK OR SWIM

This may sound flip, but now that you’ve put yourself in the spotlight, it’s on you—and you better achieve what you said you would. Leaders and managers are responsible for a lot, and their accomplishments and failures can be very public.

To get the next job, you’ve really put yourself out there by being very public about what you’d like to accomplish and exactly what numbers you’re hoping to achieve. Now you better meet your own targets so your brand becomes identified with success, not mistakes.

5. TAKE A BOW

Now, you’ve taken the initiative to find a place to add value to your company, and you’ve achieved results. Don’t be shy about sharing your success. We can be notoriously shy about taking credit because sometimes it can feel uncomfortable, but graciously taking credit is a key trait of successful leaders.

A nice way to do this graciously would be to prepare a summary deck about your project that reviews what was accomplished, and also what you learned along the way, and what could be done better for next time.

6. ASK FOR IT (!!!)

Now that you’ve built a reputation for yourself as an ambitious and capable leader, that promotion is yours…all you have to do is ask for it. Clearly and unequivocally.

And if you don’t get it the first time, ask again. One accomplished C-Level woman I know had to lobby for her role several times over until it was finally hers. But her persistence showed everyone just how determined she was.

So don’t be shy. The path to your next promotion is within your control!

What else have you done to better your chances at promotion?