These days, getting a promotion at work isn’t simply a matter of keeping your head down and doing your job duties. Once upon a time, it was taken for granted that employees would get promoted after a certain amount of time on the job. But in today’s economic environment, you have to really stand out in order to convince your boss that you’re ready for more responsibility.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to boost the odds in your favor. Go beyond just paying attention in meetings; take notes, too, so you’ll leave with a list of tasks you’ve been asked to perform or goals you can help the company reach. Stay positive and keep it drama-free at work; show that you have the maturity and poise to handle the stress of a more senior position. Show your company that you’re committed to your professional development by taking advantage of training and certification opportunities, or going back to school for an advanced degree. And, last but not least, keep track of your progress on assigned projects, your achievements and your personal impact on the bottom line; use this information to “manage up” to keep your boss informed regarding your performance.
Have you ever had a great idea, but didn’t write it down, insisting that you’d remember it? You forgot it, didn’t you? The same thing happens with points brought up in meetings. You’ll impress your boss – and improve your memory for company meetings – by carrying a notebook with you. Write down tasks you’ve been asked to complete or problems you’ve been asked to solve, so you can be sure not to let your superiors down.
It’s also a good idea to write down any hurdles or problems the company may be facing, even if you don’t have an immediate solution. You can brainstorm solutions later. Your boss will be impressed at your initiative and will remember you as a problem-solver when a more senior position opens up.
Make Friends in the Workplace
Being a team player goes beyond holding up your end of the latest project at work. You also have to be friendly and likable – your superiors will be more likely to offer you professional opportunities if you’re well-liked around the office. Your workplace is a community; make the effort to be a respected member of that community. Go to the office happy hours, attend office parties, and bring your family to the company picnic. You’ll stay in the loop on important office news, and you’ll forge closer relationships with the people who see you 40 hours a week.
Back in the office, it’s important to be easygoing and affable. If you have to vent, do so to your spouse or your best friend, not your boss. You won’t get along with everyone or agree with every company policy, but stay upbeat and calm in the workplace. A stressed-out, complaining employee is one who won’t seem prepared for more responsibility.
Commit to Your Professional Development
Just because you’re no longer in school doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some continuing education opportunities. Show your company that you’re willing to work to improve yourself as a person and a professional by attending continuing education seminars, working towards important certifications, or obtaining additional training whenever it’s offered.
A great way to both prepare yourself for a promotion and grow professionally is to go back to school for an advanced degree. A graduate degree, such as an MBA, will prepare you for senior management positions, and impress your superiors with your discipline and drive. When you go back to school for a graduate degree, your boss will see how hard you’re working to advance your career, and that’ll look great when it’s time for a promotion. Many schools offer online programs that you can complete on your own schedule; better yet, you can earn an online MBA no GMAT required, so you don’t have to worry about preparing for and taking an expensive, difficult test.
Talk Yourself Up
With all that he or she has to get done in a given day, your boss probably doesn’t have the time or energy to keep track of your progress and accomplishments. He or she may not even have an accurate picture of your value to the company. That’s why it’s up to you to promote yourself.
Of course, simply bragging about your successes isn’t enough – and will likely turn your boss against you. However, it’s perfectly appropriate – helpful, even – to send your boss a weekly or monthly email outlining your progress on your current project, your achievements since the last update, and your personal impact on the company’s bottom line. This will keep your boss in the loop, and draw attention to any important clients you’ve landed, or any other accolades you’ve earned.
When it comes to getting a promotion at work, the trick is to make sure your coworkers like you and that your bosses are aware of your achievements on the job. When your boss sees you as a self-starting problem-solver dedicated to working for the company’s success, getting promoted is only a matter of time.