You want a promotion this year—but you’re not sure what moves will make it happen. You’re in luck, because while we couldn’t ask your boss for the answer, we did ask eight managers what they want to see before they’ll give their own employees a boost. Try their suggestions at your own workplace, and you may just snag that promotion soon.
1. Make your manager look good.
“The No. 1 thing an employee can do to get promoted is to make their manager successful,” says Ben Brooks, founder and CEO of PILOT. “Think of yourself as their agent and career coach. What are they on the hook for to deliver this year? What do they want their legacy to be? Worry less about your own advancement and promotion, and instead go all in on supporting them. You’ll engender a great deal of loyalty with this approach. A good manager has a psychological contract between them and their employees that is basically, ‘make me successful and I’ll make you successful.’”
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2. Keep a kudos file.
“Put together a report or summary of all your accomplishments and how they specifically contributed to the success of the company in 2016,” says Valerie Streif, senior advisor at Mentat. “Having concrete data points that directly correlate to company growth and success makes it very difficult for a manager to shut you down when making your case to be promoted.”
3. Ask for the job you want.
“The most important thing you can do is ask,” says Emily LaRusch, CEO of Back Office Betties. “When you meet with your manager, make your intentions clear and then ask for opportunities to work on projects that will help showcase your skills. I’ve received all of my biggest breaks simply by letting my manager know that I am happy to work on projects outside of my daily duties.”
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4. Develop a can-do attitude.
“Employees who have a clear desire to move up need new behaviors to get noticed for all the right reasons,” says Katy Caselli, owner and president of Building Giants. “One of the best is to become more positive. A ‘can-do’ attitude raises your productivity, and you become more innovative, creative, and all around nicer to be around. These skills help you to be more effective with people, showing your leader that you are ready to influence others and get more accomplished through your ability to work with other departments and even difficult employees.”
5. Keep up on industry news.
“Create a daily habit of learning about your industry,” says Megan Bedera, COO of Amplify Relations. “This hunger for knowledge shows me that the employee so engaged in their work that they are spending time in the off-hours making themselves better at their job. It is critical to learn about the hot new ideas and tactics in your industry because every year there are thousands of people seeking jobs who have fresher, newer knowledge and who want your job.”
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6. Lend a helping hand—to other employees.
“I want to see an employee reaching out to other employees to find ways to help,” says Mike Catania, founder and chief technology officer of PromotionCode. “All of the promotions we have involve direct management, so it’s of paramount importance that the applicants are demonstrating a proactive stance shouldering some of the joint load by seeking out what other employees need. It’s easy to pick up a new skill or take a class, but it’s challenging to develop the personality traits necessary to be in the middle—where you’re responsible for people but still have people working above you dictating large portions of the agenda.”
7. Sharpen your skills.
“The single best thing an employee can do to earn a promotion in the coming year is to show an eagerness to learn and improve their skills,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, executive resume writer and president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “This can be expressing an interest in attending new training in their industry, going to an industry conference, earning a new certification or credential, or finding and following thought leaders and subject matter experts in your field that you can glean knowledge and wisdom from on a regular basis. An employee who shows a desire to learn and grow continually is the first one I look to promote.”