Going After A Promotion

Going After A Promotion

Martin Yate, CPC

Promotions come as a result of hard work, credibility, visibility, and a plan of action to gain experience and credentials. You get hired based on credentials, not potential, and you get promoted for the same reasons. It is often simpler to get promoted with the company where you work, than trying to get a promotion with a job change. This is because you have time to build the skills and the allies with a current employer who will help you with that step up.

Strategy – Promotions Don’t Come To Those Who Wait

Promotions aren’t a matter of seniority anymore and they don’t come to those who wait quietly. Promotions come to those who think through a winning strategy and implement the tactics that will deliver what they want.

Winning a promotion starts with developing superior technical competency in every aspect of your current job. You work harder than others—consistently deliver on the expectations of your job, treat everyone, regardless of rank, with the same respect and always do more than promised or expected. Tactics – This is how you get a promotion

Everything worth pursuing in your professional life, takes twice as much effort and time as you think; that’s why, if you are committed, it is easy to break away from the pack – because the pack members won’t make the effort required.


At this time you don’t need to attach this skill development to a specific job title or to a “promotion”, but if it does come up, explain that you recognize the need to work toward this job over time by developing the skills it demands.

  1. Review the requirements and deliverables (the tangible results of your work) for the job you hold now. Do you have superior skills in all the areas required for this job?


    If not, take the time to bring these skills up to par: it will make your job more secure, is foundational to winning a promotion, plus it supports intelligent long-term goals for career resiliency, the better skills making you more desirable to other employers.

  2. When you are delivering superior performance on your current job, identify the next logical step up your chosen professional ladder, get the formal job description for the current employer (HR will make it available to you when you explain you want to work on your professional growth).


    Next, collect another four or five job postings for your target job title (TJD Document Available Here) and dissect them to determine how employers commonly prioritize the needs for the target of your promotion, and how they express those needs.

  3. Do a GAP analysis, identify the gaps between the skills you have today and the skills you need to qualify you for that next job. This gives you a professional development program to pursue.
  4. Look for ways you can build these skills within the context of your current job and on your own time and initiative.
  5. Talk to your boss about your desire to do well in your job and to grow professionally. Talk about the skills and experiences you want to develop in terms of becoming better at your job and more valuable to the department.
  6. Tell your boss, every couple of months, about how your professional skills improvement program is coming along; ask his or her advice on how you are growing and what you should be working on.
  7. Volunteer for projects you recognize will give you new skills required by the target job.
  8. Identify people who do this job successfully, find ways to get to know and to help them in anyway you can. Someone doing this job successfully now, can become a mentor and this will help your pursuit of growth; and that you are being accepted by people doing that job now won’t go unnoticed by management, plus these senior titleholders have some small influence when it comes to recommendations for a job opening.

Moving Up


When a position opens up, a company normally looks within and then goes outside for talent. It is easy, but wrong, to assume that because you work there everyone knows about yours qualifications and desire to get promoted; this isn’t necessarily true because without a plan like the one outlined above it is all too easy to get stereotyped, categorized and pigeon-holed by management and HR, When the company goes outside for talent, those candidates comes armed with resumes that carefully focus on the experience and abilities they can bring to the job.

You should prepare in the same way, first creating a resume targeted to this job and the deliverables you bring, and then preparing for interviews just as you would for the same job with another company.

Taking these steps gives you the credentials, credibility and visibility you need to win that next step up your professional ladder with your current employer. You will throw your hat in the ring whenever opportunities arise and be patient if you don’t win first time out.

Seek critical feedback when you don’t. Difficult conversations are often pushed aside with the “keep trying” retort. Don’t let your boss off easy, my friend Karen McGrath, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, at Enterprise rent-a-Car recommends to try something like: “I know this is hard, but I really want to know what is holding me back.” Using that advice is crucial to your development within an organization.

Or Moving Out

It is easier to climb the professional ladder within a company where you are a known quantity and have earned a sterling reputation. However, your commitment is to your long-term success, not to blind corporate loyalty, so a time may come when you believe this next step is not possible within your current company. If and when this situation arises, you are armed with greatly enhanced skills, and the professional credibility and visibility that should now constitute a truly valid professional brand.

If you follow Knock Em Dead career management philosophy, you are an active member of at least one professional association and have an active presence within the professional groups on LinkedIn that cater to your professional specialization. Consequently you will have contacts at the right levels with a majority of the companies within your target job search geography.

With a job-targeted resume and a database of relevant companies and contacts you are ready to pursue a confidential job search outside of your current company. Pulling all this together, you have the time, tools, skills, connections, and knowledge to make this next strategic career move on your own timetable.

Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.

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