Your 30-step plan for getting the promotion you want and deserve
Reported by Rachel Premack
If you haven't gotten the promotion you were hoping for, don't fret. There's still just enough time to get the new title, perks, and pay.
Ramit Sethi, author and founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, wrote that it can take just three to six months to establish yourself as a top performer in the company.
By keeping an open dialogue with your managers about your ambitions and excelling at your goals, you'll be in a prime position for a promotion.
Here is your 30-step plan on how to get a promotion:
First, understand that you can't get promoted just because you've been there for a while.
The fact that you put in a few years at a certain company doesn't mean you're automatically eligible for a promotion. You'll need to show that you add value to the company.
"After a certain amount of time, employees just expect a promotion, but they don't stop to think if they really are effective," wrote Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell, the principals of Skyline Group, in Entrepreneur.
Put office politics aside and take responsibility for your own career growth.
The number one reason holding you back from a promotion is blaming other people, says Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of Ladders job search. Getting a promotion in a matter of months will require effort, and likely a change in your current habits.
Bringing yourself to change your mindset might be a difficult step, but an imperative one as you begin to seek a promotion.
"As a professional and an adult looking to get ahead in their life, you have to conquer yourself and just stop doing it," Cenedella said.
Instead, demonstrate that you deserve a promotion by being a leader today.
Owning your projects is a key way to show you're already a leader.
Show your bosses that you're able to lead and inspire your coworkers by being able to independently come up with and complete major and minor projects.
"Organizations place a premium on individuals who follow through on tasks," Kyle Wong of Pixlee told The Muse. "If you can prove that you can consistently own projects from start to finish, you will not only get promoted, but you'll also make yourself indispensable."
Figure out what needs improvement in the company, and address it.
Solving the problems that others shy away from is a great way to quickly get promoted, James Caan, CEO of private-equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw, wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Look at where the inefficiencies or problems in your company are, Caan wrote. Then, focus your efforts on improving those areas.
"Every manager is impressed by self-starters, and somebody who takes the initiative in areas where the business may be weak is putting themselves high up the list for a promotion," Caan wrote.
Some top executives suggest acting like you already have the promotion — and the responsibilities it comes with.
Libby Leffler, a former Facebook executive and current vice president at SoFi, got ahead by working for the job she wanted. That meant taking on challenges and responsibilities that come from a higher role, instead of just settling for doing what you're told every day.
"Why don't you start doing that role today? Not tomorrow, not a month from now. If that's the role that you really want, start doing it," Leffler told Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.
Consider learning some new skills.
Some upper-level roles require that candidates have certain skills that their subordinates don't have, Cenedella said. Figure out what those are and learn them, whether through an online course or through building your soft skills.
Become a calming office presence.
"The people who typically get promoted keep their cool under stress," Nicole Munoz of Start Ranking Now told The Muse. "When an issue arises, they want to solve it and work to avoid future problems by learning from their mistakes."
Try dressing up a little.
Some studies indicate that a simple outfit change can boost your confidence and lead you to professional success. Other research finds employees wearing suits and blazers were more productive. That's why some experts say everyone - from interns to managers - should come to work dressed like a CEO.
"People who wear that kind of clothing feel more powerful," Michael L. Slepian, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Columbia Business School, told the Wall Street Journal. "When you feel more powerful, you don't have to focus on the details."
And start showing up a little earlier, too.
Cenedella says some companies take people who show up early as serious contenders for a promotion. Research from the University of Washington found supervisors rate employees who come in late as being lower performers, even if they work the same number of hours as their peers.
Avoid getting bogged down by daily tasks.
While you should complete your basic tasks, avoid getting caught up in the constant influx of emails, projects, and meetings, career coach Anna Cosic told Business Insider.
This is reactive work, and a Harvard Business School study said that should be kept to only 40% of your day.
"At the end of the day, you may get a lot done, but you haven't done anything that stands out or impresses the people around you," Cosic told Business Insider.
Delegate or eliminate what's not clearly important.
There's a chance that many of those draining duties aren't really important, Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported.
Take stock of how you spend your time and what tasks feel most boring. You might be able to remove those from your daily duties, or at least reduce them significantly.
Then, you can focus on strategic, high-level decisions that show your capability for a leadership role.
Indicate that you can take on more.
Don't be that person running around in a panic, answering emails at 3 am and looking ready to have a breakdown at any moment.
If you look like you're flailing, you won't be noticed as a candidate for a promotion, Cosic said.
"If you don't give the impression that you can take on a lot more, you probably can't - and won't," Cosic told Business Insider. "You need to project the impression that you are not at full capacity, while still over delivering on your goals."
Don't engage in office politics.
Even if they beat their goals and drive revenue, most managers would be cautious to promote a rabble-rouser or someone who isn't trustworthy.
Research what opportunities are out there, and meet the key players in those areas.
When you're considering your short-term future, it's important to know the trends in your company and across the industry.
"Leaders need to know the business inside and out," the Sindells wrote. "They need to understand the company vision, mission and strategy, and with this broader picture in mind identify what the company is doing well and what can be improved."
Understand where your company is growing and what steps you can take to be part of those new growth areas, Cosic said. Meet the people who are involved for coffee or lunch to learn more about those opportunities.
Immerse yourself in company culture.
Get involved in your company through building relationships outside your team, workplace strategist Erica Keswin says. She suggests joining employee resource groups for women or minorities, or attending other company outings.
Showing you're a team player and "broadening your reach within an organization" helps showcase your company loyalty, Keswin told Business Insider.
At least once a week, promote yourself to the higher-ups.
Making your accomplishments known should be at least a weekly practice, Cosic told Business Insider.
Notify your boss every time you complete an important deliverable or solve a major customer issue, or if you excel at any other important metric. It might seem aggressive, but your bosses might not otherwise know that you're moving the company forward.
"A lot of people do amazing work every single day, but it goes unrecognized," Cosic told Business Insider.
Set up a casual meeting with your boss to show your interest.
You should be having regular conversations with your boss about your ambition and interest in larger opportunities.
Otherwise, opportunities for promotions or new projects may arise without your knowing.
"You can be the most talented and professional person in the world, but if the people at the top think that you are happy where you are, they may overlook you when there are promotions available," Caan wrote on LinkedIn.
"Of course, you don't want to seem overly competitive or pushy, but good managers will always have an interest in what your personal goals are - so don't be afraid to explain them."
After talking with your boss, give yourself three to six months to become known as a top performer.
Don't expect to be qualified for a promotion just after a few weeks of kicking butt, Sethi wrote.
After you've had the initial conversation with your boss about opportunities for new responsibilities, become a top performer in the following three to six months. Then make your plan for the big ask.
Understand that preparation is key.
You might think that just doing a good job is the only requirement to getting a promotion, but you'll also have to present your case in a convincing, galvanizing way.
"You want to make the conversation flow as smoothly as possible," Sethi wrote. "The discussion should be mutually beneficial so your boss sees the tremendous value you've delivered."
Understand the goals that you need to accomplish.
Before you try to demonstrate that you can be a leader, you need to make sure that you're meeting the basic standards of your current role.
Career strategist Miriam Salpeter previously told Business Insider that it's important to have goals that you can use to measure your success. Make sure you and your supervisor both understand how success looks in your organization and what is expected.
If your employer does not make this clear, it is up to you to identify these targets and pursue these goals.
Prepare a case based on how you've quantifiably exceeded your goals.
Find the numbers that prove your contribution to the workplace, model and businesswoman Tyra Banks previously told Business Insider.
"You need to sit there and talk about your value. Talk about what you have done that has increased revenues, increased engagement," Banks said in a Business Insider video .
That data should comprise the bulk of your promotion conversation because it's hard proof of how valuable you are to the company - and how you're ready for something even bigger.
"People should have that information ready when they go into that meeting with their boss," Salemi previously told Business Insider. "It shouldn't be spontaneous. It should be really well-thought, intentional, and planned."
Stuck? These questions might remind you of your worth.
Sethi wrote that you should review the following questions while preparing your case for a promotion:
- Have you delivered specific results? Which ones? Estimate how much they were worth.
- Has your communication improved? How so?
- Are you more efficient than before? How do you know?
- Do you know the business better? How does this translate to the company's bottom line?
- Have you developed new skills? What kind?
Set up another meeting to discuss the promotion.
"Schedule a convenient, relaxed time for your manager and you to sit down, uninterrupted," Taylor previously told Business Insider . "Approach the subject diplomatically, with an upbeat, positive demeanor."
Practice what you want to say beforehand.
You have proof of your continued success within the company and an understanding of where the industry is headed. You're almost ready to present your case.
"A great mentor gives feedback not just on what you say, but also on how you say it," McDonald said. "Tone of voice, facial reaction, defensiveness, frustration can all hinder a negotiation. Practice the discussion until it's free of emotion and nerves."
Explore the data of how you've exceeded.
"You should always link individual performance to departmental goals, and then to overall company goals and how what you've done directly impacted each," Ochstein previously told Business Insider.
Don't spare any detail in how you've benefited the company. Your boss might not know all of the finer points, Salpeter told Business Insider.
"If you are working harder and contributing more, it's up to you to be sure people know about it," Salpeter said.
"Do not assume people with authority to provide a raise (or promotion) fully understand your work unless you are making a consistent effort to ensure you are advancing forward with your goals and that they are tracked."
Deliver with confidence.
The tips you think of for a job interview - confidence, energy, positivity - carry over here.
"You have to sell yourself, just like it's a job interview," Clare Moore, a content marketing manager at HR company MHR, previously told Business Insider.
Fran Hauser, media executive, startup investor, and author of the book "The Myth of the Nice Girl," wrote for Business Insider that you need to maintain strong eye contact, have good posture, and avoid filler words like "um."
Keep energy high and be positive, showing that you love your job and you're passionate.
"The delivery of your message matters," Hauser wrote. "If you sound like you're not sure about whether you deserve a raise, it may raise doubts for the person across the table. It will also tip them off that it's easy for them to say no."
If you get turned down, ask what you need to do to improve.
If you get a "no," don't get defensive. Ask why not and what you can do to improve.
"Get as much specific feedback as possible so you can figure out what steps you need to take to get to the next level," Hauser wrote.
Keep an open dialogue.
Ideally, you should be having regular, open conversations with your boss about your future at the company.
If this conversation didn't result in a promotion, schedule a talk with your boss a few months down the road to check in again and see if you're improving toward a new title.
"Talk about what you want with your boss," Toni Thompson, vice president of people and talent at The Muse, previously told Business Insider. "Make sure that they know what salary you want eventually and the title you want or more opportunities that you want."
No improvement in sight? Consider moving on.
If it's clear that your company has no room for you at the upper echelons, don't hesitate to look elsewhere.
"If you are at a stage where you have been with the same company for a while and are seeing no progress, then the best way to move up the ladder is to find a new company," Caan wrote.
"Allowing yourself to get stale is never a good option, and although leaving a job can be tough, it may be a necessity."
Got the promotion? Don't forget to follow up over email.
Congrats! Now it's time to make a paper trail so you can delineate out your exact raise, title, new duties, and other logistics.
Mention your excitement to continue making great contributions to the company. Spell out all changes to your compensation package and duties and when they will take effect.
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