How to get a promotion

By Elizabeth Bromstein
Feb 9, 2024
Photo credit: mikkelwilliam/E+/Getty Images

Getting promoted at work can be challenging, even if you’re really good at your job. There are fewer senior roles at an organization than other roles, and the higher you get, the fewer there are. There is one CEO or President, for example, while there are usually a few more Vice Presidents, Directors, and Managers, but still a limited number. This means anyone who wants to move up the ladder and into one of these roles has to outshine others vying for the same jobs.

If you want to get promoted, you have to demonstrate the value you bring. Many companies seek employees who help them increase their profits. You also need to show dedication to the company, leadership skills, and get along with others since managers usually oversee teams.

How can you demonstrate these things and more of the qualities that help people move up the ladder? There are certain habits of people who get promoted. Here they are.

8 Habits of People Who Get Promoted

Going above and beyond

It’s the sort of thing you hear all the time from career experts, but it’s truly the best thing you can do. Even if you’re not gunning for a promotion, going above and beyond the call of duty is always a good idea. Do more than is expected of you, underpromise and overdeliver, do your best, and then do more.

Building relationships

Successful people are well-liked. They are nice to their colleagues and show a genuine interest in them. Ask your coworkers about themselves and listen to the answers. If you work in person, buy the coffee. Be helpful whenever possible, which ties into going above and beyond. You want people to like you, so be likable. This also applies to management. Become friends with your superiors (if you like them, of course) and build those relationships.

Finding ways to be indispensable

Being indispensable means you are necessary for the success of your organization, and they can’t afford to lose you. One becomes indispensable by bringing in value. This might be by taking charge of projects, implementing systems, being the only one with a particular skill, or being the only person with the keys (literal or figurative) to something nobody else understands. Find a way to make yourself indispensable, and you’ll have more job security and negotiating power when you ask for a promotion.

Solving problems

Problem solvers are gold. People who can solve a challenge and, as a result, save money, increase revenue, or make something move faster or more smoothly, are of immense value to a company. Do it several times, and you will demonstrate a worth that senior management won’t be able to ignore.

Taking responsibility

Successful people take responsibility. This means handling your workload and doing what is expected of you (or more) well and on schedule (or ahead of schedule). And it also means taking responsibility for your part when things go wrong. It takes guts to own up to your mistakes, and it helps avoid creating the same problems in the future. These are good things that managers appreciate.

Taking charge

People who get promoted work well independently and don’t need to be micromanaged. They do what is required without being asked, and they find solutions to problems without running to management all the time. They take charge of projects and are good at delegating without being bossy or a bully.

Paying attention

If you want to move up the ladder at your workplace, it helps to know what is going on around you and know not just your role but where everyone else fits in. Be attentive and alert to the workplace systems and social dynamics. Listen. Understanding your organization will allow you to figure out how you can grow in it and where you can be the most useful.

Constantly learning

Adding to your skill set, learning new ideas and ways of doing things, reading, and exploring new ideas are all habits of people who get promoted. Today’s work environment is unpredictable, with evolving technology and shifting goalposts. Staying on top of developments and learning new things helps people stay ahead of the game.

What NOT to do if you want a promotion

Of course, there are bad habits that can keep you from getting promoted as well. These include:

Complaining

Complaining might bond you with some of your coworkers, but it won’t help you, or them, advance. A positive attitude at work will get you further than a negative one.

Gossiping

Gossip is a terrible habit that has no value. Never join in when people are speaking negatively about someone else, and know that it’s usually only a matter of time before they say bad things about you.

Doing the bare minimum

This is obviously the opposite of going above and beyond. Those who do their jobs – and only their jobs – are not promotion material. If you say, “that’s not my job,” when asked to do something outside of the scope of your responsibilities and never do more than what is expected of you, you won’t get promoted because you don’t deserve to.

If you want a promotion, you have to ask for it

There is another important piece of this puzzle, and that is asking for the promotion you want. Many people might be excellent workers and deserving of advancement opportunities, but they never make it known that this is what they are after and assume something will just be handed to them. That’s not usually how it works, so if you just wait for it instead of going for it, you probably won’t get anywhere.

If you want to move into a new role, you need to make it known. Speak to your direct manager about possibilities for advancement and what jobs might be available now or in the future. Your boss might be able to help you train for and fast-track into one of these roles. If you don’t think your boss is the person to talk to, have a conversation with HR or with another member of the senior team.

Make your goals clear so you don’t wind up missing out on a promotion for the sole reason that nobody knew you wanted it.


Elizabeth Bromstein is a recognized author and career strategist with more than 10 years of experience in the field and the goal of helping people land their dream jobs, optimize their potential and make the most of their careers. She is the co-founder the Yackler Corp., the former Business Editor of Workopolis.com, and the current Editor in Chief of Spa Executive magazine, the go-to news resource for the hospitality wellness industry.

Originally published by Talent.com.

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