You’ve managed to get your foot in the door at work, but now you’ve got your sights set on that big promotion coming up—you and every other guy in your department. So how do you make yourself stand out from the pack? Here are 10 tips to help you come out on top while still becoming the most popular guy in the office.
• Help out your co-workers: One of the biggest mistakes people make is pulling other people down so that it’s easier for them to move up. But throwing someone under the bus just to make yourself look better is only going to come around and bite you in the ass—word travels quick around the office, and you don’t want to become known as the asshole that got someone fired just to secure your own promotion. When promoting, managers look for (and notice) the individuals who work to advance the whole team or company, not just themselves, and who foster a positive, team-building culture. As one boss put it, “When employees do more than what’s expected to lift the company both in terms of driving revenue and building the culture, we want to keep them around and empower them to continue to help us grow.”
• Show that you’re a leader: You want to be the guy that everyone else comes to when they have questions or need help with something. If you’re going to be promoted, managers want to see that the rest of the team will be able to work well with you, especially if the new position entails moving up to the management level. When you finally get the promotion, it’ll be a natural transition, since you’re already seen as a responsible and effective leader.
• Demonstrate your positive work ethic: This might seem like an obvious one, but it still deserves mention, because it’s so important. If you really want that promotion, then demonstrate to the people who matter that you deserve it. Don’t show up late, don’t take extra-long lunches, don’t skip out early, and don’t whine if you have to stay later than normal to finish something. No company will promote an individual who doesn’t take their job seriously or who doesn’t respect the company’s time and money.
• Go the extra mile (even when you don’t really have to): If you need to stay an hour late to finish an assignment, then just suck it up and get it done instead of clocking out at five on the dot. No one really wants to stay at work longer than they have to, but it shows dedication and there’s no doubt that your boss will notice the extra effort on your part. (Make sure he/she knows you’re in the office late—walk by his office on your way out or send him an email just before you leave.)
• Dress for the job you want: Don’t show up looking like a bum—if you want to be seen as a boss, then dress like one. If your office is business casual, a suit isn’t necessary, but dress pants that fit, an ironed dress shirt, and proper dress shoes can go a long way in helping you stand out to the higher ups. Click here for some useful style tips that will instantly make you look better.
• Avoid office gossip and drama: Nothing can derail your career like being the guy who starts gossip and spreads rumors around the office, or who ignites office politics unnecessarily. You always want to maintain professionalism and integrity, so be careful of people who don’t demonstrate those same values. Alliances are useful, but not when they’re for the purpose of causing harm. When it comes to gossip and office politics, your best bet is to watch it from the sidelines and avoid getting involved.
• Make it known that you want it: Don’t wait for your boss to bring up the topic of a promotion. Let him or her know that you’ve got your sights set on it. If the promotion is with a different department, consider letting your current manager know that you’re applying for it, so that they’re not blindsided when they’re approached for a reference. They might even be able to help prep you for the interview or give you some insight on how you can make yourself stand out.
• Ask for help: If you have a good working relationship with your manager or supervisor, approach them and ask for feedback about how you can improve your performance. This shows that you’re willing to do what it takes to stay on top of things and that you’re open to constructive criticism. And if they give you advice, take it.
• Start doing the job you’re eying: You’re more likely to get promoted if you’re already doing some of the tasks that are associated with the new role. Take on new projects and responsibilities that are aligned with what you might be doing in the new position. After all, who better to take on the role than the person who needs the least training for it?
• Manage your expectations: Never assume the job is yours until you have that offer in front of you. There’s always the possibility that there will be someone who’s better suited for the promotion. If you’re passed up for it, try not to show that you’re too disheartened. Chances are another promotion will come up and you still want them to consider you for that one, so if you act like a child and get overtly upset about not getting the job, it’ll only hurt your chances in the future.
Maye, V.J., “7 Steps to Getting Promoted,” Chicago Tribune web site, October 24, 2013; http://goo.gl/dxlbdk.
Reston, K., “Get Unstuck! 5 Steps to Landing That Promotion,” The Muse web site; https://goo.gl/S8EPDk, last accessed June 1, 2015.
Taylor, D., “Top tips to get a promotion at work,” The Guardian web site, September 3, 2012; http://goo.gl/ynB8Sd.
Young Entrepreneur Council, “10 Bosses Share How to Land That Promotion,” The Muse web site; https://goo.gl/Cuybn2, last accessed June 1, 2015.