10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get a Promotion

How to Get a Promotion

You want a promotion? Great - that means you’re thinking strategically about your career. But just wanting one isn’t going to get you one, you’ve gotta do the work to do the work.

Here are 10 actionable items you can do right now to make it happen.

Even if you’re not jockeying for a promotion - these actions will help you be a better employee, leader and coworker.

1. Don’t Be a Yes Woman

Challenge thinking, decisions and mandates… if you truly disagree. Don’t disagree to just disagree, but if you believe something is a truly poor decision and/or an other action would be more beneficial to the company - speak up!

Again, don’t be argumentative, but objective.  Go to the table with facts, data and a thought out plan.

2. Do The Work, With a Smile

Look, I’m not saying you need to bust out your cheerleading moves, and be a total Pollyanna, but don’t be a grumpy, entitled ass either.

Be confident in your abilities and get the job done - without making other people miserable. While yes your boss should know your goals, your work should also be able to speak for itself.

Be eager, professional, motivated and mindful about your own work and working with others.

3. Calm Down

When there are stressful situations in the office do you escalate or defuse? Do you focus on all the impossible things this client is asking and stress out the PM by freaking out about long ago agreed on deadlines? OR are you coming to the last minute standing meeting with a few solutions and an understanding that everyone is doing their best to do their best?

We all have different personalities and we all deal with stress differently, but if you are constantly adding to that stress, you will not be seen as an effective leader. What to do if you realize you might be a stress spinner? Just breathe…. and calm down. Take a 5 minute walk if you need to. Go get a mug of tea before that impromptu meeting to deal with the issue and breathe. Go in there with, if not a smile, at least an attitude of “How can we fix this?”

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4. Show Up for the Fun Stuff

Not ever going to the office shindigs and co-worker happy hours sends a loud and clear message: you don’t care about these people.

You don’t have to drink if that’s not your thing and you don’t have to close the place down, but you do need to go. At least sometimes. If you’re not bonding with teammates, department heads and C-levels, they have no idea who you are and how invested in the company you are.

Flipside: don’t be the drunk girl flipping your hair in the CEO's spouse’s face.

5. Raise Your Hand

If you need clarification on a deliverable, ask. Don’t turn in shoddy work because you were afraid to ask for direction.

If an ad hoc project needs help, volunteer.

If an out of town client needs dinner recommendations, pass them on.

Be present, available and willing to go beyond your job description. No boss ever wants to hear “That’s not my job.”

6. Be the Cliches on Your Resume

Detail oriented? Team player? Multi-tasker?

You’d better be a 3 project juggling team captain turning in reports with every “i” dotted and “t” crossed.  If you’re put on a team,  make sure to carry your weight.  If you are given a deck to compile, proof it 2x.  If you are given several tasks to do, prioritize and manage your time accordingly.

7. Don’t Kiss Ass, Help

This is where some real initiative comes into play. Instead of just buttering up your boss with a well chosen compliment, become indispensable and make her life genuinely easier.

Don’t just give your boss lip service of the smacking variety, do the work assigned to you AND ask what you can take of their plate. This is twofold, it alleviates stress from her plate and allows you to take on a bit more responsibility which is what promotions recognize. Right? Got it? Good.

8. Bring the Solutions

There’s two camps here:

  1. The bosses who only want to know about the problems AFTER they’ve been solved (if at all) and

  2. The bosses who want to know that there’s an issue but that you’re also working on fixing it, now.

When you begin your working relationship, ask your manager which they prefer. No matter which they prefer, managers want to know that they can trust you to think your way out of problems.

Also, keep ‘venting’ to a minimum with your manager (even if you’re friendly) because it can be perceived as presenting problems and not solutions.

(While there is evidence that bringing only solutions is actually BAD for innovative problem solving, it is still seen as being proactive in today’s corporate world.)

9. What is Your Job, Really?

In many companies, unfortunately your job description is not the last word on your responsibilities. Many times HR is slightly removed from the day to day and while they own your job description they may not know what the role’s daily tasks actually are or should be. Make sure you get on the same page with your manager about exactly what your job entails.

Don’t make your boss ask you for new tasks twice. Need clarification? Ask. A new task not particularly part of your job description? Take on more, but be ready to prioritize tasks.

Always be on the lookout to offer and implement solutions for streamlining and money making. Take on the additional needs those suggestions may require.

10. Work With Your Boss

Ask how you can proactively grow in your role. Ask for active mentorship. Unless you are vocal your manager may have NO IDEA that you want more. When it comes time for reviews and promotions, if your boss knows you are working towards one, and you are invested in growing with the organization, you’re going to be first in line. But it means scheduling time with them and letting them know your goals. Set up a meeting, talk about your work and ask for specific feedback.


You don't have to implement all these today, but make sure you're doing good work, getting noticed and being a true asset to the team. 

Also, always remember you don’t have to be a manager to be a leader.