Early on in my career I was overlooked for a promotion. Crushed doesn’t come close to describing how I felt that day when I found the position had gone to one of my peers. To make matters worse I had been coaxed into putting myself forward for the role by senior management who had suggested the interview was a formality and the job was mine.
Back then I was too shy to ask for feedback for fear of having my bruised ego further damaged. However I imagine lack of experience, plus many of the factors we discuss below would have been the contributing factors to lack of promotion.
As part of our regular career feature we’re pleased to team up with Office Angels Director, Chris Moore once again. This time Chris shares some very helpful tips on securing your place on the next step of the career ladder.
Getting a promotion is harder than it’s ever been. Today, performing your job well is often not enough: you have to go above and beyond, fighting off stiff competition from your colleagues for promotions which are few and far between.
Unsurprisingly simply asking for a promotion won’t get you very far, with less than one in 100 employers (0.8%) being swayed by ad hoc requests.
The determining factors in career progression are also changing; fewer than one in six bosses (16%) now look at education and training when considering who to promote, and only one in five (21%) are concerned with specialist skills. Instead, personal and communication skills are on the up, and developing these, as well as your attitude to the workplace, could help you take the next step on the jobs ladder. Show initiative: Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employers look for employees who are resourceful, enthusiastic and pro-active. Take every opportunity to stand out and show your skills. New opportunities are a fantastic way of raising your profile, so put yourself forward or offer to help your colleagues. When a problem arises, don’t wait for instructions from your seniors: Suggest a solution and make their lives easier. Show that you have taken the time to really understand the issue and how your team can move forward: Your initiative, drive and problem solving ability will all be recognised. Be a team player: Whilst promotion is an individual achievement, more than half of bosses (55%) look for teamwork in those they promote. As well as being a dependable member of your team, working collaboratively and communicating constructively is a form of leadership in itself and won’t go unnoticed by your boss. Also, make sure you network with colleagues, suppliers and relevant organisations to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships at work. Demonstrate your ability to lead: Over half (55%) of employers rank leadership skills as essential for promotion. Volunteer to take responsibility for group projects, making sure to practice what you preach. Lead by example, and motivate your fellow team members with support. In demonstrating an ability to lead, you are showing your boss that you can step up to future roles. Have a solid work ethic: Employers want employees who are willing to work hard and add value to the company. This is why 54% of bosses look for people who are prepared to go the extra mile, have the discipline to see the task through, and have a commitment to quality results. Fine tune your communication skills: Nearly half (48%) of employers look for employees with top communication skills. Make sure you listen to what others are saying, encourage others to speak up and ask questions to grow and learn. Remember that a lot of communication is non-verbal, so be confident, smile and make eye contact.
While we’re on the subject of promotions I thought I’d add in another of my own tales. Several years ago after a colleague left suddenly, I found myself covering their role. It was a bit of a ‘step up’ and I had high hopes of securing a new fancier job as a result. However though the extra effort was appreciated it didn’t result in any compensation during my annual appraisal. Personally I believed I was covering all aspects of the job but it was pointed out I had in fact just been keeping the role ticking over. I hadn’t necessarily displayed any evidence of anything hugely strategic, or set in place any long term (come to think of it, short term) goals for growth. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me as I had convinced myself I was doing their job. It’s a tricky balance considering there’s hardly ever enough time to do your own job let alone take on extra obligations but it’s definitely something to think about.
This led to some smashing advice, suggesting you should do all you can to perform at the level of a job a grade higher than your own (obviously being careful not to step on anyone’s toes). Yep, you may not be financially rewarded for all the effort at the time but it’s a great way to demonstrate to your peers and management how you can be trusted to take on additional responsibility. I did all I could to get exposure at a higher level and polished my business acumen. After a bit of a bumpy ride I have to say it has paid off. Also when I finally did get a job at a higher grade it was a far smoother transition dealing with the new responsibilities.
What are your tips for bagging a great job within the work place? Anyone keen to step on to the next rung of the ladder but experiencing a few set-backs? Any recent promotions we should be celebrating?
Image taken from Abi Warner’s stunning Home Tour