How to Get that Promotion!

Are you ready to move on? Either internally or externally? Here's how you go about it.

First, revise your resume.

Seriously, even if you are hoping to be promoted internally and stay within the same department with the same boss. Even if you are looking for simply a “growth promotion” where you essentially stay in the same job, but with greater responsibility and (hopefully!) better pay. Here's why: Your boss doesn't know everything you do. No boss does. Not because the boss is bad, but because bosses are busy. Your resume should focus on your accomplishments, not your tasks.

Writing up your resume, even if you don't actually show it to anyone, helps you realize where your strengths and weaknesses are. It also can give you a sense of satisfaction to see, in black and white, what you've really accomplished in your current job.

Look for opportunities within your current company.

Often, especially in smaller businesses, there isn't a clear progression from Junior Analyst, to Analyst, to Senior Analyst, for instance. You have to figure out your own path. So, start looking around. Figure out what you need to do to get to where you want to go. Try to meet people from the group you wish to join. Talk to them about the skills they have and what is the most difficult part of their jobs, and make sure you have the skills for that.

Talk with your boss.

Let your boss know you're ready for more of a challenge. Remember, not all promotions are into different jobs. If you can demonstrate a great track record, and enthusiasm to go onward, your boss may be able to help you. Yes, I said help you. Good bosses want good employees to go on with their careers. She may know things you don't know, or be able to point out weak spots and give you assignments to help you build that. And she may be able to give you an promotion in place.

Let people know you want to move up. 

Isn't it obvious? Of course you want the promotion! Everyone wants the promotion! Well, that's not actually true. Lots of people are happy where they are. (Some would even be happy to move down a notch—if they could keep their current salaries.) And sometimes, stereotypes keep people down. “Jane doesn't want to be a senior project manager—that requires travel and she has a toddler.” People might not actually say that out loud—and they may not even consciously think it—but if you haven't said, “I'm working towards the senior project manager role,” they won't know you would even consider it. Also, letting it be known that you're willing for more of a challenge will mean that you might be tapped for special assignments that will pave the way towards a promotion.

Work really, really, hard. 

You know who gets the promotion? Someone who is awesome at what they do. Resist the temptation to slack off. Just because you know your current job really well, doesn't mean that you can be a slacker. Make it clear that you're working hard and you're taking on additional responsibilities because you're just that good.

Get some training in a growth area. 

You can do this on your own (some online classes are awesome), or you can go to your boss and say, “I'd like to move into X position in the near future. I'm a bit weak on my Y skills. Would it be possible for me to work with Steve for a few hours each week to help strengthen this skill? Or could I take this class? It's local and only two days, and will make me a greater asset to the company.”

Ask, apply, ask again, apply again. 

You have to chase the promotion. They don't just happen. Now, don't be annoying—that doesn't work. But you have got to make it clear that you are looking to move up and you'll do what it takes to do so. Don't ask every two weeks, but do ask for growth opportunities, volunteer for special committees, take on the most challenging work in the department. Shine, and then ask again.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online bachelor degree programs in business and online MBA programs. To find out more, please visit

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