Posted by Robert Half on 27 August 2014
If you have your sights set on reaching the top in business, then there's little point hanging around waiting for opportunities to emerge. You need to grab the bull by the horns and take the initiative, creating your own opportunities to gain a faster promotion.
Providing you are performing at a high level in your chosen profession, and visibly add value to the organisations you work for, doors should open. Employers will recognise your talent and potential, and provide you a target for promotion, there should be a chance to progress.
To a large extent, the speed at which you move up the career ladder is up to you. How hard are you willing to work in order to get to where you want to be? Successful people know the secret on how to get a promotion is sometimes about being willing to move companies and locations in order to take advantage of other opportunities.
If you want to jump the queue to a faster promotion, you need to be proactive, organised, dedicated and eager. You also need to have good people skills, and have a proven track record of delivering for your employer. But what can you do in the course of your job to gain a faster promotion? Here are our top tips on how to get a promotion:
Work in a growing industry
By nature, there will be more opportunities to gain a faster promotion in growing industries. If organisations are expanding, it means they are taking on new people. And where there is recruitment at entry-level, more experienced members of staff get to take on additional responsibility and more senior roles.
Talented professionals have the chance to innovate and shape the future of their industry sector. If you have the ability to think creatively and positively influence the way your organisation and others work, there is every chance you can rise through the ranks quickly.
In every workplace, there are people who 'talk the talk' and those who are able to 'walk the walk'. Those who shout the loudest often deliver the least in terms of successful results, so there is no harm in being a silent influencer.
In the first instance, your primary focus should being on how to be a high performance employee - ensuring you work to the best of your ability and deliver a return on investment for your employer. They will be assessing you from the start and be aware of your achievements.
If you think your employer underestimates the contribution you make to shared projects, then use your review meetings to highlight what you have done.
Have a positive attitude
When employers assess individuals for management potential, they are looking for talented people with a positive, can-do attitude and an ability to solve problems. If you relish every challenge and throw yourself into tasks, both your employer and your colleagues will be thankful for your involvement.
When problems do arise, it is important to be adopt a constructive approach - even when it is difficult to be anything but negative. Senior employees need to remain positive in order to maintain morale within the general workforce, so this ability is something employers are looking for in promotion candidates.
Work for the right boss
Choosing the right boss can help you gain a faster promotion - and this is something to consider when you are weighing up job offers. You want to work for somebody who will take a genuine interest in your development, and support your attempts to gain new skills qualifications and experience - rather than working for bad boss who you don't get on with.
It can also be beneficial to work for somebody who has their own ambitions. As colleagues move up the jobs ladder, new opportunities may arise for you - particularly if you establish yourself as a loyal and trusty employee. You might end up taking their job when they secure a promotion, or find yourself headhunted by the organisation your boss moves to.
Create the right image
If you're serious about wanting to gain a faster promotion, then it's important to create the right image - one that says you are a serious businessperson. Look at how the senior people in your organisation carry themselves - in terms of attire, the way they communicate and their behaviour around the office. it is important to be an individual with your own personality, but you also need to be seen as someone who is management or executive 'material'.
It never hurts to be a friendly face around the office - someone who is personable and friendly to everyone. If you get the chance to help out your co-workers then always do so - favours may be returned in the future. Additionally asking for feedback can provide you insights on how you could perform better, and ultimately gain a faster promotion.
Of course, being a nice person won't get you promoted - you still need to be a top performer in order to achieve your desired rate of progress. But if you are viewed as a disruptive influence or a self-centred individual, it might prevent you from being considered for many roles.
Arrive early and stay late
You need to be seen working hard by your employer - there's little getting around this fact. Ultimately, it's quality of work rather than quantity that is most important, but even so, you've got to be prepared to come in early, stay late and work through your lunch at times. Senior managers and executives have a significant workload, and your employer will want to be sure that your work is your priority.
Showing a willingness to do extra from the start - volunteering for additional tasks and responsibilities where possible - demonstrates to your employer that you are keen to get on in business and move up the ranks. You are somebody who is willing to go the extra mile for your employer, and this will be undoubtedly be considered when candidates are shortlisted.
Challenge your employer
On a day-to-day basis, your employer will be focused on the main aspects of business - delivering products or services to customers in order to generate a profit. Your development and career progression is important, but it isn't their number one priority. As such, you need to ensure it remains on the agenda, and from time to time, be willing to force the issue.
If you feel you are ready to move up, don’t be scared to ask for a promotion. They need to know you are hungry and ambitious - it puts pressure on them to create opportunities for you, assuming you are an individual they wish to retain. Employers understand that talented professionals will leave unless they are given the opportunity to better themselves, and as such, they will do their best to support the pursuit of your goals.
Look for another job
Instead of waiting and wondering how to get a promotion in your current job, it's sometimes easier to gain a faster promotion by switching organisations. In some companies, there simply may not be the opportunity for you to progress at the speed you desire. It could be that there are other highly-skilled professionals in the same boat as you - working hard to get a promotion as quickly as possible. And while you can force your way up the queue, past those who are doing little to aid their own career development, you can't get right to the front.
If you're not prepared to be patient and bide your time, you may wish to identify other organisations that will be willing to give you a chance. If you have a great CV and superb references, and they are looking for an external candidate to fill a role, it could be the opportunity you have been looking for.