People often think about their careers in January. Whether they’re looking for a fresh start, jumpstarting their job hunt, setting goals for what’s ahead, or simply prepping for their annual review, it’s a contemplative time for job seekers and actively employed professionals alike.
And there are plenty of reasons to take a growth mindset when it comes to your career—to maximize your earnings, to stay competitive in your market, for career satisfaction, for personal growth. If you’ve been in your current role for some time now and have been making strides in your professional development, you may be wondering: How can I get a promotion this year?
Getting a promotion is a nuanced, involved process that requires thought, diligence, and communication. If you think you’re ready to make that next step in your career, here are 6 steps to help you land that promotion this year:
1. If you want to advance your career, make it known
Never assume that your work will speak for itself. Taking initiatives, seeking more responsibility, and producing stellar work are all key components to getting promoted—but communicating your goals and achievements is just as important. Time spent at or loyalty given to an organization won’t automatically put you into consideration for leadership positions. Remember that.
Because each individual is different in terms of what they’re looking for when it comes to work, you need to communicate clearly to your managers—early and often—what you’re looking for in your career. If you’re looking to move up the ladder at the company you work for, make it known. When positions open up that align with your career trajectory, let your managers know that you want to throw your hat into the ring. Advocate for yourself constantly.
2. Take on responsibility outside of your job description
If you want to advance your career, sometimes you have to do the work before you get the recognition. Managers often reward those who take initiative. Is there a task or responsibility that needs to get done, but there’s no one around who is willing, or able, to do it? Step up to the task. Be the point person or subject matter expert for your team.
Taking on responsibility outside of your job description is a great way to showcase that you have leadership potential. It’s the difference between meeting expectations and exceeding them.
3. Stay on top of your industry.
Technology means our jobs are constantly evolving. This is especially the case if you are in a more technical role, like software development, IT, or engineering. Don’t let your job become irrelevant because you’re working with stagnant or dying technologies, or because you’re in an industry that’s being disrupted. Here are some ways to do that.
► Evaluate the competitive landscape. A great way to do this is to look at job descriptions of roles that are comparable to yours and examine if they’re leveraging a technology that your company isn’t. If every other company uses cloud-based software services, and you’re still housing infrastructure in-house, that’s a red flag that your company or department isn’t staying competitive.
► Go to networking events. You don’t have to go networking events only when you’re seeking a job—in fact, networking events (like our own VanderHouwen Engineering Networking Group) are an excellent way to poll your industry. What technologies are your peers using? How are their roles evolving? (P.S. if the concept of networking events has got you feeling nervous, don’t worry. Here are some tips to help.)
► Turn to industry resources. If you’ve discovered that the technology you’re working with is indeed out of date, there are plenty of resources available to help you, from online coding programs to brick-and-mortar schools. Here’s our go-to list of career advancement resources for tech pros.
4. Be a collaborative and decisive leader
If you’re leading a team, know that the two things that frustrate team members the most are (1) a lack of opportunity for input and (2) a lack of leadership. Great leaders are both decisive and collaborative.
When translating that to your career advancement, it means that you’re communicative and inclusive. You know when to ask your team for their input, how to make others feel heard and valued, and to give everyone a voice. It also means that you should be able to get things done without asking for validation. When tasks need to be accomplished, you can take them on and lead them with little oversight. You know how to make the right decision. You know how to collaborate, delegate, and accomplish.
5. Contribute to company culture
Remember to show interest and provide input into your organization as a whole, not just in terms of what’s relevant to your career trajectory. Be a role model when it comes to company culture. Understand the needs of other departments as they relate to your department. Get to know your coworkers, go to events, be thoughtful and warm.
6. Come prepared to your performance review
Performance reviews are one of the reasons that it’s so important to communicate your career advancement interests early and often. Remember that your managers prepare for your performance review in advance—they make decisions on compensation and career growth ahead of time based on interest you’ve expressed and work you’ve accomplished. This means that performance reviews should not be the first time you express interest in your career advancement.
That being said, performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to sell yourself. Have a list of your accomplishments prepared ahead of time. Tout your accomplishments and success metrics for the year. Have a list of areas to improve, because no matter how great of an employee you are, your managers will want to see that you have insight and introspection.
Frame your accomplishments in terms of how you add value to projects or tasks, and be prepared to get specific. Speak to challenges you’ve experienced. Share any ideas you have on how your department can improve. Be ready to impress.
Whether you’ve just started in a new role or have been a dedicated employee at your company for years, having a plan in place for your own career advancement is essential to making sure your voice gets heard, you’re recognized for your hard work, and you take an active role in your personal growth. Here’s to a prosperous 2018!
Feel like a promotion just isn’t in the works? It’s time for a fresh start. Check out our job board.