Moving up the ladder at work is a goal many twenty-somethings share and these 12 tips will help you secure the bag and your promotion.
1. Understanding the Expectations
Knowing what is expected of you in your role allows you to meet and exceed those expectations. As simple as asking for clarification may seem, this is an essential part of being able to succeed in your position. Understanding the expectations of the day-to-day in your role is the start, and applying this to how you work as a part of the team and how you can live your company's values will take you to the next level.
2. Setting Personal Goals
Once you know what your manager and the company expects of you, take the time to see what you actually want. Ask yourself: what skills do you want to develop, how can you grow in the job, and do you want to grow with the company or is this a stepping stone? Setting timelines and milestones for yourself will help you feel satisfied and motivated in your role.
3. Go Beyond Your Role
With the company's expectations and your personal goals in mind, you can find ways to go above and beyond to meet the needs of your team, company and yourself for personal fulfillment. Finding ways to take initiative makes you a team player and is the first step on the road to being indispensable! This can also be incorporating side projects that you are passionate about, and add value to the company.
Tip: Make sure you branch out in ways that are helpful to your team members or the overall mission of the company and be careful to not step on any toes. Ask if you can help others / communicate your interest in a project or area outside your designated scope before taking on projects.
4. Document Achievements
You are doing so many amazing things and when it comes time to ask for a promotion, you want to have kept a record of them all! Keeping a list of all the significant work you've done, your accomplishments and special projects you have tackled will give you all the ammunition you need to justify your asks. Tip #3 & 4 go hand-in-hand as you showcase your other skills taking on more than your written role, and your dedication to the company beyond your day-to-day tasks.
This is a good general practice if you're on the job search as well; you can reference specific projects you've led or back up your experience with significant statistics.
5. Save Accolades
The kind email from coworkers (and importantly superiors) come in handy when negotiating for a promotion. While your achievements and statistics should be able to speak for themselves, your bosses will be impressed that you're a team player who's work in the company is being noticed by clients, your coworkers, and others. If you feel uncomfortable highlighting yourself, this is a great way to support your work without having to 'brag'.
Tip: When asking for a promotion, raise, or during your performance reviews it is SO important not to downplay your role or work. Talking about your accomplishments can be unnerving, but you're the best advocate for you!
6. Build Work Relationships
Putting your nose to the grind stone and getting your work done is only part of your job! Most positions involve working with others in some form: customer service, working with a team in your department, or communicating across a company. With each of these, building your relationships with others is great way to receive the accolades from tip #5 and often times in a job review your boss will reach out to those you interact with to hear their feedback. If you work well with others and go out of your way (just a little) to help team members and build personal connections, it will help you in the long run.
7. Don't Play into Office Politics
In every work environment there will be some level of office politics. It may not be obvious, but power struggles, different personalities and overall vision shifts are always there. Hopefully your work environment is fantastic and you get along with all of your co-workers, but on the off chance there is someone who rubs you the wrong way, or says something rude - please - fight the urge to talk trash, take sides, or EVER put anything in writing. You never know when it will come back to haunt you and it will not be worth it. Instead vent to your Mom, a friend in a different industry or a journal!
8. Take the Lead
If you're looking to level up at work, don't wait for a new position to take on new initiatives. You can be a leader in any role, from small group projects to tackling additional work on your own. Taking the lead lets your boss know that you already have leadership potential, and can work well on your own and with others. By creating and thriving in leadership roles you will be seen as a leader and your additional value to the company will be apparent vs. if you were to wait for these opportunities to present themselves, you could be overlooked.
9. Speak Up
Many of us have experienced a year of working from Zoom...it became common practice for teams to have meetings online and to speak up only to tell the presenter 'you're on mute' or offer up a 'thanks everyone' as the call ended. If you're back in the office this low level participation will most likely no longer fly, and if you're looking for a promotion you have to do a lot better.
Speaking up in meetings is the tip of the iceberg; the main idea is to offer your expertise, ideas, and know that YES you are meant to be in that room! You have value no matter your years of experience and often times a fresh perspective is a game changer. Don't be afraid to let others know you have big ideas, and when you speak up, do so with confidence. The most revolutionary ideas are often the simplest ones.
10. Ask for Feedback
If you know you want a promotion by the end of the year, set the stage for your boss and let them know you are looking for a future with the company. At the six month mark ask for a review and get specific feedback on how you are doing to understand what you need to do to get the promotion come the next review. This is a reminder that you are taking your role seriously and have ambition to grow with the company. Come with specific questions on what's expected, what skills are needed to move up, and how to gain those skills. Grow with professional development courses, having a mentor or simply taking on new challenges.
Checking in with your boss and getting their feedback on performance lets you know how realistic your timeline and goals are too. If the company is not in a place to meet your timeline, then you can reassess your goals and/or consider applying elsewhere as you continue to build your portfolio and gain experience.
11. The Little Things Count
This tip is as simple as it sounds: while you are kicking butt and taking names at work, don't forget the little things that make up an ideal employee. Being on time, having a positive attitude, taking direction, asking important questions and overall professionalism are 'little things' that have a big impact. The smallest action of greeting your coworkers when you first see them, or asking how someone is doing are the pleasantries that don't go unnoticed.
12. Voice Your Intentions
The odds that your boss will offer you a promotion without you mentioning wanting to further your career? Low. The odds of a company offering you more money just because? Almost zero. Voicing your intentions is the differentiating factor.
Let's chat about self-advocacy. Tip #5 touches on the topic of being your own cheerleader, and this is an essential skill to have as you go in for a job interview, or as you inform your boss on the incredible work you've been doing! No one else can champion you or know all the work you are doing better than you. Having the accolades you've received from co-workers and your list of achievements are tools to give you confidence as you speak up and let your boss know your goals. Know your value, do your research and LET THEM KNOW!
You got this.