How to Get a Promotion

You may enjoy your job and being part of the team in which you work, but it’s only natural to look to the future and feel the need to achieve mo…

You may enjoy your job and being part of the team in which you work, but it’s only natural to look to the future and feel the need to achieve more. Being ambitious is actually a very positive attribute, but often it’s difficult to know how best to progress in a company.

Some roles – particularly in the public sector – have an established career ladder. After a certain period of time, your experience takes you to a higher grade, with better remuneration and more responsibility. But this is increasingly rare, so it’s useful to understand the promotion process and the ways in which career progression can be attained.

First, don’t expect too much too soon. When you start a new job, it’s important to know that the company has hired you for that specific role – and considered you the best candidate. Pushing for promotion to another position too quickly is likely to raise doubts about your commitment to your current post. So it pays to bide your time and prove your abilities, skills and dedication before attempting to move upwards.

That said, there is no reason not to ask about your prospects when you have an appraisal with your line-manager. Knowing which skills you will need, or which targets you should meet, to gain promotion is the key to making it happen.

It may be well-worn, but the proverb ‘The best way to get a more senior job is to be doing it already’ is absolutely true. Within your current role, look out for opportunities to show initiative, absorb more responsibility and take a lead. When the possibility of promotion arises, you will then have plenty of evidence of your readiness, and hopefully, your capabilities will already have been noticed.

Many firms are very keen to hire from within, to keep their people motivated and enthused, so ensure you know where vacancies are advertised (this is particularly true in very large companies). This may be on an intranet, staff newsletter or a noticeboard, but if you’re ready for a step up, make sure you’re aware of the opportunities.

Bear in mind that, even when applying internally, you may well have to undertake a formal recruitment process. Don’t let this put you off.  After all, you will have the advantage of being known to the company and will carry insights an external candidate lacks. Always make the most of this competitive edge, but be careful not to be complacent – do  the same preparation for interview as you would for an entirely new employer.

When putting yourself forward for promotion (and it never hurts to volunteer, rather than wait for management to come to you), you will almost certainly be asked why you want the position. Make sure you have a structured, persuasive answer. Explain the reasons why you’ll make an ideal candidate, flagging up all your achievements in your current job and how they apply to the more senior role. Describe how your unique traits  – and we all have these – will enhance the post and how you will use your new responsibilities to benefit the company or organisation. Never, never say you’re seeking promotion because you want more money!

Identifying the role to which you would like to progress is an intelligent strategy. Having done so, you should be able to establish the abilities and strengths of the current post-holder. If they have certain qualifications or accreditations, take time to discover how you can acquire the same. It’s quite likely your employer offers access to internal or external training, so don’t be afraid to ask about it. The very act of undertaking training will count in your favour as it demonstrates your commitment and ambition.
If you know and trust the post-holder, you might want to buy them a coffee and ask them about the role and how they succeeded in securing it – being careful not to make them feel threatened or interrogated.

Ultimately, if your manager or employer knows you are keen to progress, prepared to undertake the necessary training or education and have already shown yourself to be capable of handling advanced tasks, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t achieve the promotion you want. Even if it requires a little patience.

In the meantime, Cogs can help to explore your prospects, because we will never place you in the first job that becomes available.  In fact, we often find the best plan is to remain with your present employer and work upwards from there. So, if you ever feel the need for a frank, confidential chat with one of our consultants, all you have to do is get in touch.

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