every few years, the big “P”, or promotion, rolls around. and if you want to get to where you want to be someday, you better be movin’ on up every few years via promotions. promotion cycles vary by company and personal performance level, but by my best guesstimate, you should be looking to get a promotion (either via a job change or within the company you work for) every 2-3 years. the only caveat to this is if you’ve had a career change and need to step down a rung or two on the career ladder first. ideally, though, you should be prepping for a promotion all of the time. here’s why:
promotions aren’t automatic. they don’t “just happen to you”. they’re well-earned, hard to get, and they require a lot of grit and muscle. more than likely, you’re working on getting a promotion whether you know it or not by doing what you do every day in the office. first, there are your daily or weekly tasks that need to get done rain or shine. they might have been a part of your job description when you first landed the role, or they’ve been assigned to you over time from your manager. they are what is expected of you. you must conquer this portion first and foremost. figure out how to get your stuff done perfectly every day, with as little effort as possible so that you can make room for new responsibilities.
once you’ve mastered your assigned responsibilities, look for new ones. it’s great that you’re doing your job, but a promotion comes out of doing more than what is required of you. your boss might notice that you’ve got more free time, but more than likely, you need to voice your availability. when he or she sees that you can handle your current responsibilities well, they’re more likely to give you additional work. look and ask for opportunities that add to your skill-set or increase your knowledge on a topic. these are likely requirements in a job at the next level up, so getting ahead of the curve is perfect.
you should also make sure that you’re tracking your progress somewhere. create a spreadsheet that lists all of your responsibilities, who you worked with, what your tasks were, and what the outcomes are. having this handy as a way to prove your effectiveness to your boss is essential. additionally, it’ll serve as an easy way to beef up your resumé or add fodder when you need to present yourself for promotion.
lastly, make sure your boss knows that you’re looking to grow and get promoted. you don’t need to tell them that you want a promotion outright (or, you can, especially if you know there’s a new promotion cycle coming up) but you do need to make sure that they know what you’re working towards and why. if they know that and support it, they’re much more likely to give you the experience you need and back you up in any promotion related committee hearings.
in a nutshell, master your current responsibilities, ask for new opportunities that match what will be required in the next level up, track your progress, and communicate with your boss.
you got this.