With bosses stingy with money, competition is fierce, and few people are selected for a promotion. Gaining attention from your boss is the number one best way to be noticed and ultimately promoted in a company, but gaining that attention requires you to be creative with your approach. This article provides some ideas on how you can stand out and earn a promotion in your company.

Make yourself visible and noticeable. 

The more visible you are, the better chances to get noticed & be put up for promotion.

Have you ever noticed why people are so loud and flamboyant in the office? So there's no need to shout so everyone can hear or gesture in big ways that people feel that this madman should be put into a mental hospital instead. The reason for this is simple, people who shout the loudest and act with the most confidence are often the ones that get seen first.

You may disagree with this logic, but such employees appear more confident in what they do. The way and how they perform their tasks are often noticed from afar because of their boldness. This attracts attention from your boss and also the bosses from other departments. By acting differently from other people around you at work, you are noticed. Therefore, the first names put up for consideration for promotion are memorable people.


Be a problem solver.

Be the solution when your boss has no other choice

Companies wouldn't want to give out bigger paychecks as there will be a higher net operating income at the end of the year. The Human Resources department, which protects the company's interest, would keep costs low and headcount leans to reduce financial outlay and employee liability.

However, in the following situations, their bosses have no other alternative (but to promote you):

  • A managerial position becomes empty because someone suddenly quit, and that team needs supervision
  • A managerial position becomes empty because the previous position holder got demoted, transferred, or fired for underperformance
  • A managerial position becomes empty because the previous position holder got promoted and has moved on to a higher role
    A vital project needs to be managed, or a task requires a specialist skill (that you possess), and no one else can do it.

For these reasons, your annual performance review doesn't need to end on a positive note for you to be considered for promotion.


Look for internal job opportunities.

Actively Look for Internal Job Opportunities

New jobs within the same company are internal opportunities, while a new jobs elsewhere are external opportunities. You have to understand that a job opening within your own company is as good as another job opening you seek at another company. Career prospects are present from within your home company. When you are looking for a promotion, companies would prefer seeing internal promotions because they are growing their own people.

Here's an analogy: "would you rather give an extra give you last Oreo to your 5-year-old cousin or your neighbor's boy?" Obviously, benefits go to the closest people you know and have the strongest relationships (and trust too). Similarly, bosses would rather promote their own subordinates than get someone newly hired in for the role.

With this in mind, if you have a good relationship with your boss, there is always an internal promotion opportunity waiting for you. Your company will be happy to see you and not lose their best asset.


Seize the promotion opportunities you see.

Show that you want the promotion

Psshhh. Stating the obvious might sound ridiculously nonsensical, but here it is - most people don't voice their career aspirations, and bosses don't know that they want to get promoted. While some bosses don't want to "lose face" and have their promotion offer rejected, they would rather not offer those workers who clearly haven't shown any inclination to a new role with more responsibilities. They have to go through HR, your reporting managers, and likely a panel of key people who will decide if they will consider you for promotion. There's no point in putting a candidate up for consideration if there's no indication that the person will accept the role.

To show that the promotion is something you are keen on, you have to take charge of your career development. Be your own career coach.

  • Job advancement is a part of your career planning process, and discussing with your reporting manager about your current role kickstart the conversation.
  • Talk about how well you are going at the position you have now. Mention that you have been in your new role for a little while (6 - 18 months at least) now, and your outstanding performance means that you have the capacity to take on more tasks.
  • Here, you define your career goals and state your intentions in your desired career advancement.
  • You also express your career aspirations and make them clear to your superiors.
  • If other team members see your ability too, names will work in your favor as their words are testimonials to your ability.
  • Then, as you express your willingness to take up more responsibilities to prepare you for the next step up the career ladder, you show your promotion readiness if you can perform at your current & extra workload.
  • Also, ask for leadership responsibilities as most higher job titles have increasing leadership components and a focus in a management role.
  • Perform well at your current projects, day to day work, and shine at the additional responsibility, new tasks, and new problems you are given. If your bosses can provide internal performance metrics that gauge your fit, make sure you check those boxes off. These are your major goals.
  • Finally, when your bosses have available promotion opportunities, your good performance is evidence to support the promotion of internal talents like yourself. You are already performing the job description of the new job anyway!

Can you be a leader?

Your next promotion depends on your ability to take up leadership roles

Some people are cut out to be leaders, while the rest are better off as followers. Your ability to take up leadership and management roles depends on your personality and (usually) how well you have responded to difficult situations in the past. Recall your own career growth. Did you do well? If so, then you have excellent credit scores toward your next career step up.

Witnessed by your bosses, the past few times you encountered problems were definitive in their minds whether you have the qualities to assume higher positions. Therefore, when you are being considered for promotion, your bosses will be asking themselves how your response to past problems reveals leadership qualities.

Here are some scenarios:

  • You get a strong negative report from an unhappy client. Your boss asks you to escalate the matter to his boss, and your follow-up action is positive. This means that you addressed the problem at its roots, and when it got escalated again, you dealt with it in a professional manner. Your follow-up response to this problem shows that you can deal with difficult situations like this.
  • You have a team member who is clearly not performing well, and your boss asks you how you would handle the situation. If you step up and help (unlike the rest), you show emotional intelligence and soft skills. Your boss sees that you are not only a role model, but you are also objective and fair in this regard.
  • Your work processes are streamlined by introducing new technologies. These new fancy machines are intended to replace old clunky systems. You put a heck ton of effort into getting things done more efficiently and implement these changes with little disruption to your team members' workflow. This means you recognize the business goals and collective goals of the company. Having this sort of personal initiative that leaders have, even if the company does not label them as leaders, managers, supervisors, etc., is also highly valued.
  • A team member who has been struggling with their personal life throws a tantrum, destroying a project that could have been completed in 7 days if not for this distraction. Your boss asks you how you would handle the situation as you are looking after the interests of all your team members. You can exercise assertive communication in adopting a no-nonsense policy if you choose to be a firm manager or you can show empathy and care if you want to take on a softer, compassionate approach. Either way, you demonstrate and develop your personal leadership skills.

Expect more out of yourself, aim higher.

Pursue & Demand for More from Yourself: Don't be comfortable with what you have at work

Learn that outstanding performance means you stay at your job and you will not get promoted. Aim higher. When you produce "gold star work," you are misinformed if you think another cheaper hire cannot replicate your work. There is always someone faster, smarter, and cheaper than you. Plus, with the younger generation whipping out degrees and a whole ton of graduates begging for jobs, companies have alternatives.

You're not on the fast track to promotion if you are excellent at what you do.
John Lennon once said: "Being good is no longer enough." Being a hard worker & someone who always performs well might get recognized and appreciated by your boss, but that won't make you stand out from others in your team.


Prepare for interviews

Prepare for promotion interview questions

In some jobs where they conduct a round of interviews for internal promotions, you can prepare for the session ahead of time. Yes, you are interviewed even if promoted internally because your boss may change. You will probably report to someone else, sometimes from a different department or location.

Some questions which are put up for internal interviews are:

  • What are your career goals, and does the next role fit your intended career path?
  • What have you done to prepare for a promotion within and outside of the office?
  • How would you rate your own job performance in the last 6 months (to a year)?
  • Is there any aspect of your job that you want to improve on ASAP?
  • What are your top 3 skills that you want to develop in the next 6 months?
  • How have you contributed to the success of your department?
  • Why should we promote you as a manager?

Network with colleagues.

Doing well at strategic networking

To get promoted internally within the company, you need to demonstrate the value you contribute to improving the company's performance. To do this, you have to help build a competitive advantage for your company by teaming up with other departments and the whole office.

The most powerful way of doing this is by setting up win-win situations for both parties.
For example, if two departments would benefit from each other, it is in your best interest to work with them to develop a win-win working solution for both of them.

  • When you can help both sides by mediating, your reputation and influence grow.
  • You have enhanced your self-marketing skills and garner potential allies.
  • It makes you someone who others can come to for advice, and people will look to you as a thought leader in the company.
  • Get someone to recommend you.
How to Get Professional & Character References
• What, or Who, is a Reference• What Should They Say• Where Do I Find• How to Ask• Who Are the Best References• How to Obtain High-Quality References

As mentioned above, bosses see more value in promoting existing staff members over an external hire because they see the opportunity cost of a new hire in their current role.


Play office politics well and to your favour

Play Office Politics Well: Put it to your advantage to get a promotion

Job promotions can be a bit like dating. And office politics is kind of like dating games as well. A lot has to do with who you know and how you play the game. With biases, personal relationships, and possibly deep-seated hatred thrown into the mix, office politics can be a game of unpredictable outcomes. If you can play it well, however, you don't need a career expert to tell you that office politics can help propel your career forward.

Whether or not office politics are actually favorable to you is another story. If you are on the right side of politics, then promotions are easier to come by. Receiving a "political promotion" means that you have already been spotted and recognized for your value in the company by someone with power and influence.

If you are interested in getting a promotion, you need to build your reputation as a player who can make things happen for your organization. This will allow you to get into places and learn about opportunities that may not have been available to you otherwise. You are also able to identify hidden potential in others that exist around the office.


Learn when and how to ask for a promotion.

Learn when and how to ask for a promotion

Even though making your keen-ness and strong receptiveness at a bigger role helps get you to put up for selection at the next promotion meeting, when it comes to actually asking for a promotion, the best way to do so is to ask once and keep quiet.

The reason to only asking for promotion once and "that's it" is simple - you keep your interaction professional, and you don't seem like you are pestering or begging the other party all the time. So please, in your strongest willpower, avoid trying to "get a promotion fast" - the more you want it, the more you ask for it, the more desperate you seem to be.

More questions and answers on how to ask for a promotion:

  1. How many times should I ask for promotion? Once, don't nag and don't sound desperate.
  2. Should I remind my boss or HR about my promotion? No, he already knows and if he wants to act and promote you, he will. Be patient.
  3. Would my boss forget if I keep quiet after asking for a promotion? No, if you are up for a promotion and they need you to stay in the company, then they will do all in their power to make sure you get what you deserve.
  4. How to tell my boss I want a promotion? Talk face-to-face and in-person, because it is more sincere and it is a private discussion.
  5. How do I ask your boss for a promotion in an email? You should not ask via email as it is not sincere, and if your request gets forwarded around, the meaning of the message may get misunderstood.

Learn the Reasons for Promotion at Work

Learn the Reasons for Promotion at Work

Below are 10 key reasons a promotion at work is based on:

  1. To reward outstanding performance of an employee
    A promotion is not a reward for just performed outstanding work. This is true that bosses may give this type of reward, but generally, promotion ensures that the most influential, effective, and skilled person can be in the position.
  2. To fill an existing vacancy in a higher position
    Whenever an employee is promoted, it could also mean that the existing person filling that position is leaving; so there’s no one to perform certain duties and responsibilities anymore. Therefore, the company should promote the employee in a higher position to help fill that vacancy.
  3. To diffuse tension and improve work relationship
    This is one of the main reasons for promotion as it helps in effective working with others. The promotion is given to ensure increased accountability and performance at work.
  4. To anticipate or prevent potential resignation
    If the management notices that an employee is likely to resign, a promotion is given with an increase in salaries and benefits to ensure that doesn’t happen.
  5. To recognize new knowledge and skills A new promotion opportunity is given to employees when they have shown skills and knowledge in a new position. Also, there’s a possibility of them being promoted into more senior-level positions as well.
  6. To reward high dedication and performance over time People who have worked most dedicatedly for the company will be rewarded through promotions.
  7. To avoid poaching from a competitor company
    This is one of the main reasons for promotion as it helps promote employees who can help the management retain its best talent in the company. This is also an important reason as it prevents poaching from a competitor’s company and ensures that all employees in a company are recognized and rewarded for their performance.
  8. To fill future vacancies
    If there’s a vacancy coming up at one of the higher positions, this will be when there could be an opportunity for somebody to take on this position through some form of promotion.
  9. To improve the image of a company
    This is another main reason for promotions as it helps to improve the image of a company by promoting its people based on their achievements. This is also done to provide a platform for employees to take on more responsibilities and challenges.
  10. To increase productivity and performance at work
    Another main reason for promotions is that it helps with increased performance and productivity at work in the future, thanks to the new changes brought about by this promotion.

Convince your boss.

Methods to convince your boss that you deserve a promotion

An important task in your career development is to convince your boss to give you a promotion. This can be difficult but not impossible, but I will tell you first, this is a suck-up method to the boss. You will be seen as the "teacher's pet" and lackey. Sure it might seem great. Plus, there's a good chance of being successful at convincing your boss. But make sure your ego can hold it in.

Below are 10 key ways that will help you convince your boss:

  1. Be nice and treat him/her well
  2. Be passionate about the work you do, show they are living up to their full potential
  3. Go beyond attending and contributing at every meeting
  4. Offer feedbacks when things go wrong instead of blaming
  5. Don't forget to compliment
  6. Provide clear objectives for the new position before he/she takes it on
  7. Do everything in his name and do it with passion
  8. Don't "pester" him or her. Just ask and give them time to process the idea
  9. Don't start a personal conflict with the boss
  10. Tell him/her ahead of time that you are going to ask for a promotion after this position early next year, and let them already prepared

Getting promoted takes time.

Time Taken to Get Promoted at Work

Most people are really impatient when it comes to getting promoted. Getting promoted takes time. Yet they know money doesn't fall from the sky, and promotions are earned with time. However, a reasonable estimate of how long it gets promoted to the very next level can be roughly stated below:

  1. Just employed: 100 years. You need to learn the ropes first instead of dreaming of a promotion.
  2. You are good at your current job: 2 to 6 months. Go ask for more responsibilities and show them you can cope with your work now and learn fast to adapt to the increased work.
  3. Been in the job for 1 year: 6 months to 1 year. By now, your boss will have given you more work, and you didn't do too well. So you generally need more time to "get used to it."
  4. Been in the job for 1.5 to 2 years: 1-year minimum. You may have been passed over for the promotion, and someone else has got the promotion. You need to work really hard to show that you still have the capability to perform and you aren't lagging. As younger and more educated kids join the company, you may feel increasingly hard to get promoted.
  5. Been in the job for 3 to 5 years: 1-year minimum. Comfortable in your current job, you likely have declined the promotion or weren't chosen. On the other hand, if you are a veteran in your role and you are really good at what you do, then you are likely to get a salary increase (if you ask for it) even without a promotion.

Based on common knowledge, the average number of years before the first promotion is 1 year for entry-level jobs (below college level) and 1.5 years for entry-level jobs (college level and above). Specialized jobs usually need a period of time to attain mastery and promotions come in 2 years as an incentive to the employee.


Signs of possible promotion.

What are the sure signs of an imminent job promotion

It is in the air; you feel it. Other than the "feeling", you can also see visible signs. There are some signs and hearsay in the office when the promotion season nears, so in the list below, these are indicators that you may be next in line for a promotion to a higher power.

Examples of signs of possible promotion:

  • You have more responsibilities
  • You feel you are increasingly busy and have less time during working hours
  • Your bosses talk to you more, while your co-workers talk to you less
  • Meetings become a normal practice for you
  • External clients and customers interact with you more often

Signs you are not getting promoted

Signs you are not getting promoted

Though the feeling is in the air and your colleagues are eagerly anticipating their promotion letters, you have a strong feeling sinister and negative.

Here are some tingly sensations; signs you may not be promoted and are passed up for someone else.

Examples of signs that you are not getting promoted:

  • You are getting more trouble lately from your boss. You cannot cope as he continues to give you more work, and you do not have time to do it all.
  • The boss is talking with an important person from the higher management, and his glances while talking to that person don't give off good vibes. Not only that you will not be in the running for a promotion, but your job may also be at stake
  • Your co-workers are getting more appreciation from your boss during the course of the day, but you are left out. They are not saying anything out loud, and when asked, they avoid the topic. This is a clear 'red flag.'
  • You are still not having a raise in salary although you have been in your job for a year. There is no 'in-coming promotion as such, but your salary is roughly the same if not lower than it was before.
  • You feel obsolete as new hires begin to take over your job, and the tech brought in can replace the function you have now.
  • You feel down at work, and your negative attitude shows.

Why do bad employees and new employees get promoted first?

Why do bad employees and new employees get promoted first?

Sour grapes, huh. Senior employees get passed up for promotions because mostly they lack the energy to go for further career progression. They are comfortable being at their current job and already have access to what they need in salary and benefits.

New employees

Junior employees get promoted because they are willing to provide more work, put in the effort, and take the bull by the teeth. As a result, there is a common perception that some employees dread getting promoted because it will mean more responsibilities and so much more work. This is why they choose to remain where they are comfortable. Moreover, new junior staff has a ton of pressure to perform for them to keep their job. The new hires need to prove they fit the role, while you have already proven yourself with the time you have spent being hired. While the pressure could be very stressful, a select few overachieve and are promoted to fill bigger roles.

Bad employees

For bad employees, the bosses may not assess them in the same way you do. Some things they do may actually benefit the company, while you think and turn the other way. Other reasons may be that the boss likes them more, gets along with them better, and feels easier to manage. Thus they were chosen for a promotion or even brought on board before you. They could be more popular with your boss; maybe they have 'friends' higher up the food chain, so you get the short end of the stick. Personal connections are everything, so as long as your boss stands to gain from the choice to promote them, they may get the job over you in the eyes of many. The adage of "you are promoted for what you know" is more true than one might think.