While there’s no one set way to guarantee you’ll get promoted, there are a few strategies that seem to work much better than others—even across a range of industries. Here are a former Google HR chief’s top 5 tips.
1. Get constant feedback
Don’t be a pest, but do constantly ask your boss what you would need to demonstrate to her to advance. Or, even more subtly, what she values most in a truly trusted employee. Then do that. Exactly that. Get in the habit of naturally, casually asking for feedback after meetings or presentations (“How’d that go?” “Anything I could have improved?”). Check in and ask periodically what skills you should be accumulating or developing.
2. Be the office problem solver
The first thing you need to do to be in good standing for a promotion is to earn the trust and confidence of your boss and the company at large. Do this by assessing, first and foremost, your boss’s biggest crisis or concern, and set about solving it for them. Once you prove that you can listen carefully and pick out the most important priority and square it away, you’ll be well on your way.
3. Think in the long term
You should always be thinking three to five moves ahead, both of your colleagues and your boss. Make yourself a 5, 10, 25 year plan and start to map your progress to meeting your longest term goals—now. This way, you will continually generate new opportunities for yourself. Invest in your skills and career—even in unorthodox or sideways ventures. You never know when you’ll hit the magic alchemy to catapult yourself to the top.
You’ll very rarely get a promotion if you don’t assert yourself as wanting one. This is particularly a problem for women, who nominate themselves far less frequently for advancement. Regardless of who is doing the promoting—your boss or a committee who hardly knows you or your work—be sure to put your name in every chance you get. And ask your boss to help support you in moving forward.
5. Have a strong sense of reality
If you’re facing a ceiling—glass or any other kind, accept reality and figure out a smarter move. Say your boss’s job is the logical next step for you in your career path; if she’s not going anywhere, neither are you. Consider lateral moves to different departments, or even different companies, to give yourself the room to grow. If you’re not being recognized in a way you know you should be, move on. Always be willing to accept a difficult reality and pivot yourself to a solution.
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