13 Surefire Ways to Score That Promotion, According to Experts

Caroline Olney | Mar 22, 2017 Money
Image: Warner Bros

how to be your own bossWarner Bros

You know and we know that you deserve a promotion at work. You've paid your dues and done your job well, but you're just not seeing that reflected in your title (or in your paycheck). Even worse, you're seeing your coworkers climb the ladder all around you. So, how do you show your boss you're ready for a bump up, too?

You know that saying about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have? Yeah, well, we talked to some career experts, and it turns out there's some truth to that.

But when it comes to promotions, it's less about dressing up every day and more about acting like the confident, promotion-deserving employee you are. And that translates to small changes you can make daily that'll show your boss you're ready for more responsibilities.

Got a glass ceiling? Let's get cracking.

  • Be Visible

    1

    Visibility, says Margo Myers, an executive coach who works specifically with women shooting for promotions, is key. That means taking a seat at the table with your superiors during meetings even when your peers are hanging back.

    It means speaking up, and, more importantly, stepping up. "When opportunities arise for high visibility projects, volunteer -- especially if it's a project that plays to your strengths," she advises. "Don't be tempted to hide in your cubicle."

  • Be a Cheerleader for Others

    2

    Heather Monahan, the chief revenue officer at the Beasley Media Group (and founder of #bossinheels, which empowers women through career success), says it's important to not have tunnel vision or feel all grumpy and resentful when someone else has a win at work. 

    She recommends taking care to highlight the successes of those around you when you can -- not only does it foster a positive work environment, she says, but you'll also create allies that can give you a leg up when you need it. 

    "When you are an advocate for others, you build an arsenal of advocates for you," Monahan says. "You never know who will be tapped to get feedback on your current performance, and you want the team to be in your corner."

  • Be Mindful of First Impressions

    3

    While it's probably true that you're past the first impression stage with your team and direct managers, keep an eye out for the opportunity to show off your confidence to incoming employees, clients, or partners.

    It'll set up the right kind of relationships in your professional network, and your boss should be able to see that.

    But how? "Smile, have a firm handshake, and make eye contact," says Myers. "You'll come across as both confident and approachable."

  • Cut Weak Words From Your Vocab

    4

    "Using words such as 'just,' 'I think,' or 'I feel' lessens the impact for effective communication," notes Myers. We know, we know -- it's a hard habit to break (and there's even a browser plug-in to stop women from using them!).

    And that's not even all: "Don't add questions such as 'isn't that right?' or 'don't you agree?' to the end of a statement. Use phrases such as 'I'm confident,' 'I believe,' and 'I expect.'"

    Yes, the "justs" and "I feels" soften your speech and make it easier to present an opinion since it'll be be hedged with qualifiers. But they also make your communication less effective, Myers says. Sticking to statements and clear wording will make your ideas more impactful.

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  • Practice Public Speaking

    5

    In a similar vein, Myers emphasizes the importance of rehearsing public speaking or presenting gigs carefully. Same goes for important meetings where you might have to sell yourself or your ideas.

    The goals is to be able to "share your ideas with confidence," Myers says. "Practice being concise, confident, and clear. If someone asks you what time it is, give them the time -- not how to build the watch."

  • Pay Attention to Body Language

    6

    "Standing up straight with your shoulders back and using open body language (your arms away from your body with palms up) actually tells your brain you are confident," Myers says.

    Plus, she adds, it projects the image of confidence to those with whom you're communicating. All in all, it'll give you a more commanding presence and show you can be the leader in the room.

  • Play the Dress Code Game

    7

    Blazers are going to look weird at a start-up where everyone else is wearing T-shirts, and sandals are going to look super awkward next to the stilettos on the floor of a finance firm.

    But sadly, it goes beyond just looking weird: "Dressing casually can hurt your professional image if everyone around you is in business suits and heels," Myers explains. "Conversely, dressing formally in a casual atmosphere can impact how comfortable people are when interacting with you."

    Translation? Don't just dress for the job you want, dress for the office culture, too.

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  • Don't Gossip

    8

    It should probably be obvious, but it's worth saying anyway: Don't gossip or conspire -- especially about your promotion. "Work your plan at home, and when you're in the office, focus on delivering results and supporting your team," Monahan advises. "Everyone likes a positive team player that delivers solutions, not someone who complains and creates problems."

  • Contribute Your Opinion ...

    9

    ... Especially if it's different, Monahan says. Speaking up in meetings will be one of the best avenues to prove yourself by offering opinions fueled by your unique frame of mind. "You are on the team for a reason, and you want others to get to know you and see your value," Monahan explains. "Be your own PR firm at work by verbally sharing your insights and perspective."

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  • Collect Feedback and Recommendations

    10

    "Amass client feedback and recommendations of your work," Monahan suggests. "Having others praise you in writing is difficult to challenge." 

    Monahan adds that a physical portfolio of people talking about how great you are will come in particularly handy when you're explaining to your boss why you're qualified for a promotion -- or even while you're interviewing for the new role.

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  • Don't Wait for It to Come to You

    11

    Monahan says she often hears women saying things like, I thought they would have given me a promotion by now, without realizing that often, they just have to ask -- especially in bigger companies or corporations.

    "No one is your best advocate besides you," she explains. "Companies can have hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees, and their focus when it comes to promotions is on the people who are asking for the promotion."

  • Do Your Homework

    12

    "Someone will be promoted or get the position you want," Monahan says. "If you want that person to be you, you need to prepare."

    That means doing your homework and pinpointing exactly why you're the right fit. And then coming up with proof. "Treat this as a job interview and go in with examples of your work and show the alignment between your skill set, track record, and what the company is looking for in the new position," Monahan recommends.

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  • Stop Worrying About Being Bitchy

    13

    Seriously. For a woman in the workplace, it's hard to escape the "too aggressive" image, and Monahan says it's not even worth trying -- you're going to have to go after what you want, and if that makes you "difficult," so be it. 

    "When positioning yourself for advancement, see it as an opportunity to highlight your accomplishments and position the company for future success," she says. "Don't see this as you being bitchy."

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