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how do you actually get promoted?

(11 Posts)
maggiethemagpie Fri 21-Nov-14 20:39:17

How do you actually get promoted? is it a case of hanging around one place long enough and brown nosing the right people, and waiting for dead man's shoes? I have worked in my field for over ten years (in different companies) and think I'm quite good at what I do but I have never been promoted.

During that time I have perhaps never played the corporate game very well, and used to just bale out when the going got tough but I'm beginning to regret it now especially as younger, less experienced people are leap-frogging me.

I've started somewhere new within the last year (not a job hopper this time, I was made redundant from my last post) and there's not much hope of a promotion unless my boss goes, basically. I'm not going to leave but the thought of staying in the same position forever fills me with dread.

So anyone who has got promoted, how did you do it? Is there an element of luck, of being in the right place at the right time? Is it a matter of having friends in high places? How do you make your intentions known without being pushy\/

LordEmsworth Fri 21-Nov-14 22:26:27

Networking. Don't assume the promotion will be directly up - you need to make sure that whenever anyone at that next level up leaves, the even more senior manager who'll be recruiting thinks - hmm, I winder if Maggie would be interested. Don't worry about being pushy - let it be known that you are ambitious and want more. And make sure everyone knows who you are - don't assume that being amazing at your particular job will get you promoted, that alone is not enough

Bowchickawowow Sat 22-Nov-14 07:47:04

I have only been promoted within a company once, when I covered my manager's maternity leave and then kept the job but I have had my job expanded and money increased to reflect this. To actually move up a level I have got a new job that was an upwards move. But I work in a sector where average time in a role is 2 years so it isn't seen as job hopping.

HermioneWeasley Sat 22-Nov-14 21:43:16

Made it clear I wanted promotion, was bloody good at my job, moved companies for bigger jobs, took risks, was in the right place at the right time.

Is your job very specialised? Have your companies been very small? A competent person who tells people they want promotion in a reasonable sized company should make some progress in 10 years

EBearhug Sun 23-Nov-14 12:22:03

I agree with networking. Also, making sure other people can do your current job. If you're the only person who can do what you currently do, then it won't be possible to move you on, because they'll need you to do your current job. So make sure things are documented, and that you offer training to others.

It depends where you are, too - I heard from someone from a company last week, who said they have very clear criteria for each grade, and if you meet the criteria, you get promoted, end of story. That is similar to my place in that we have very clear criteria, but it's also dependent on budgets and requirement in the team (you can only have so many senior engineers in a department), and recommendation from your manager (which is where I'm falling down, and likely to be raising a grievance, so they at least review my suitability for promotion, rather than an outright no without even looking at the evidence I've put together.)

Try to get on any big projects going round - make sure your manager knows you want more of a challenge and emphasise your readiness - your experience and skills (you think they will remember - they don't always.) If other opportunities come up, make the most of them, such as organising some documentation, or reviewing a process to make it more efficient or save money. (Anything you've done which has lead to efficiencies in time or money or made more money should always be emphasised, showing you benefit the bottom line.) Speak up in meetings, and be the first to speak up.

Are there any opportunities for voluntary things at your place? I've recently organised an event, which did take lot of my time outside of normal hours, but it's had really good feedback, and made me very visible to the wider organisation. There is also an internal magazine which I've written an article for, and at another internal even recently, one panellist dropped out through sickness, and I stepped in (it was a subject where I knew my stuff, mind you.) That session was being videoed, and will be viewed by a lot of other people round the company. So you have to make the most of every opportunity which comes your way (there are limits, on account of there only being 24 hours in a day, but sometimes, you just have to make the time, if it is a really good opportunity.)

We have talks from various leaders high-up in the company, and one of the things which is particularly notable is that few of them have gone straight up a normal ladder career path - most have gone sideways and even backwards at some point, to gain extra experience in an area they don't really know, or because the opportunities there were much better than where they currently were.

And get your CV up-to-date and start looking around for what else is out there, because it might happen they're just not going to support you, despite your best efforts, and in that case, you might as well move on.

1981 Sun 23-Nov-14 15:58:55

Standard networking, internally as well as externally at professional events

Networking above (so your boss' boss knows your name)

Similar to above, keeping in touch with old colleagues I got on well with and who thought highly of me (modern tech helps, LinkedIn)

When I felt ready for a move, making it clear to my current boss

Aligning my professional development plans at work with what I wanted to advance on professionally, not drifting where my current role took me

If nothing forthcoming within a reasonable set period of time internally, look externally - apply for the interview training even if i didn't fulfil all essential criteria (women apply usually when they fulfil all essential criteria, men apply with only being able to meet a few - generally)

Be prepared to issue current employer with ultimatums, if they fail to deliver on reasonable agreements ("book that training you promised me within the next two weeks, six months ago, or I'll sadly and with regret have to start writing up my resignation)

Being prepared to stretch myself between job hops (think of the Branson quote - accept something if offered then learn to do it afterwards)

Having the 100% support from spouse so that home life flexes around work commitments (i.e. if in a stretch mode with a new role, building in some stress relievers outside of work)

Learning corporate speak - and anything which is specific in-house

Not becoming a drone

Impression management at work (e.g. in meetings, don't just copy the loudmouths, become known as someone who adds value when they contribute)

Being prepared to carry through with ultimatums (see the credibility thing I mentioned in the point above - not being seen as someone who plays games)

Knowing internal politics e.g. which manager hates another manager - I'm not saying to play any games, but if in doubt sit on the fence - this takes practice


Those are essentially what's allowed me to get very speedy career advancement relative to peers in my industry, age.

1981 Sun 23-Nov-14 16:01:17

Oh, i forgot one.

Basically adding value. Whatever role you're in, no matter where you are, add value in a way that can be tracked, measured and used as evidence. It has to be something your company cares about. In for-profits, that normally means saving money, extra sales, whatever. If your organisation isn't solely in the business of profit-making, think general customer value, or saving costs. Mentoring others, training others, documenting stuff, reducing fragility in your teams (offer to train someone in something).

But the core of the idea is to add value in whatever way your company will respect.

Bonsoir Sun 23-Nov-14 16:07:07

The first thing to do is to make sure you become really, really good at your job such that you feel "on top of it". Then work out where you want to go, and work on getting the skills that the job you want requires and making sure the people who have it within them to promote you value you and know you want a promotion.

maggiethemagpie Sun 23-Nov-14 21:45:51

Thanks for that. I think one of the problems is that my boss is only here on a contract basis, and her boss is very hierarchical and doesn't really have anything to do with the 'little people'. Even when she wants to communicate with me on something, eg a piece of work that she is aware of, there is no direct communication as it all goes via my boss, even when it would make miles more sense for her to just email me. I guess she finds it easier to put everything through one person.

I did a project recently and got some good feedback from the end-user, this got back to my boss's boss (as I emailed my boss the feedback and she passed it on) and so I got a thumbs up for that (she also congratulated my boss even though she had very little to do with it! but I can live with that).

I know I am good at what I do, it's getting other people to realise it too. I guess just waiting it out and letting my work speak for itself is a start. I will ask for projects and development. Hopefully now the last project went well then they will trust me with other things too.

I know I have job hopped in the past also had mh issues which held me back (recovered now) so really want to make a go of this job, I should really be on the rung above given my level of experience but it has always eluded me!

1981 Sun 23-Nov-14 22:46:13

" just waiting it out and letting my work speak for itself"

No, that is exactly what not to do. If you're serious about getting promoted, waiting for external events to bring what you want and letting your good work stand on its own is not enough. It never will be, anywhere I've worked.

If you're competent at your job, that's great and the core of it, like Bonsoir said, but you need more than that, see the pragmatic suggestions above.

For example, if your boss' boss is very traditional and hierarchical, what's driving that? Is it just simpler for her to funnel through 1 person? Have you verified that assumption - how does she treat others, what's her exact remit, how long's she been in the role? Can you network with people she listens to (even if it's just a peer at your own level, albeit one she has a need to work more closely with)?

1981 Sun 23-Nov-14 22:48:28

"now the last project went well then they will trust me with other things too" forgot to add, again, this is great, but it's not the "value add" stuff this thread has highlighted.

Doing a good job is the foundation of getting promotions, it cannot be the only thing you rely on.

Make them trust you and at the forefront of the decision maker's mind when you decide what you want in terms of promotion using the strategies outlined.

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