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5 Ways to Get Promoted at Work

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Published on August 25, 2022

After you land that dream job, you are all done, right? Not exactly. While there is nothing wrong with holding a job for an extended period, odds are you want to be advancing your career any chance you can. Promotions can be great. They tend to lead to more responsibilities, but they also generally come with increased salaries, bonuses, and benefits.

If you want to be promoted in any job, how can you make it happen? What follows is by no means a definitive or exhaustive list, but highlights tips that have served many professionals well along their paths to career success.

And it should be said that most of these predominantly rely on your own personal motivation. Some things depend on some outside influence too, but generally, if it's on this list it is within your own personal control.

1. Seek Opportunities to Learn New Skills

If you want to better yourself, you need to learn new skills, as well as keep existing skills up to date. This could be as simple as leveraging a mentor to teach you about tasks you are unfamiliar with. It could be more advanced, like watching videos and working things out in your home lab. Or, you could seek out classes, online or in a classroom.

The right training keeps you sharp and useful to your company and yourself. Maybe your current role isn't where you want to be in a year…and where you are cannot teach you those skills. There are online classes, YouTube videos and, if needed, put together a home lab and learn. Some of these cost little to nothing. View these as an investment in yourself. It will pay dividends, I assure you.

2. Earn (Multiple) Certifications

Certifications can reinforce that you've absorbed certain training. Some jobs and roles, whether within your organization or at a new employer, require certain certs to be held. For example, some vendor partners are required by their agreements to have a certain number of certified professionals in order to hold a certain partner status.

While these are no substitute for hands-on training and learning, there are certainly HR departments and recruiters who, no matter how qualified you are, will not move things forward without you holding the required certification.

3. Increase Your Value to Your Organization

One of the best ways to land a promotion is to become indispensable to your organization. See if you can learn another role that your company could use. If your review from last year says you effectively juggled tasks usually handled by other roles — well, that is how someone can move up from a Junior Engineer to a Senior Engineer.

The more roles you can perform in an organization, the more likely you are to be kept around during reductions in forces. If someone does one role well, and someone else (you) does five roles as good as needed, keeping you is an easier decision.

4. Ask Your Boss

If you want a promotion AND you know there is an open position? Ask. Many companies have a policy of posting job openings internally before they go out to a recruiter, so you can probably peruse your internal job listings if you want to change things up and apply.

If you have a good relationship with your boss… that is, if you talk to them fairly regularly, you might not need to ask. You talk to them, they can help you establish a plan for advancement, and with that plan, they will know where you want to be and have an idea for a timeframe. 

And, if something internally opens up, they would be in a unique position to let you know about a possible promotion or move up in the company. By talking to the boss and having that relationship, you gain an ally who can advocate for you in ways you aren't able to do.

5. Interview Elsewhere

Now, this one might seem a bit drastic, but hear me out. Sometimes, you cannot get a fair raise or move up in the world without leaving your current job.

This one does come with a caveat. I do not recommend this in all situations. Remember earlier, when I said to apply for those internal promotions you come across? Well, if you have, and you strike out more than once, then it might be time to at least explore options elsewhere.

Put some feelers out and take an interview or two elsewhere. If nothing else, you should be able to get some feedback and a better idea of what you are worth on the open market.

I'd say never do this unless you are willing to see it through. It's not good to waste the time of anyone just for kicks, and if you do get a job offer and you take it to your boss, it could go a couple of ways. You get the raise and promotion you wanted. Or the boss tells you to hit the bricks. Alternatively? You might get some concessions in the short term, but now they know you've been looking, they might start eying your replacement.

Final Thoughts

Securing that elusive promotion is not impossible. We've outlined just some of the better tactics to employ as you look to climb the corporate ladder. Keep in mind, that these won't work every time, and some will work better than others. Something you can do always and easily is pick up new skills.

But, these do work, and I may have even used a few of these in the course of my own career. Even if these tips don't land you the promotion you desire right away, they are good to follow and will pay off in the long run.


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