How to Get Promoted and Reach the Next Level

A six-step approach to achieve your next promotion

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How to Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat for Your Next Promotion

Over my 25+ years supporting the movement and careers of business talent, I’ve seen thousands of career moves. 

If you feel ready to get promoted in your current organization or land a next-level job externally, this article is for you.

Key Highlights

  • Stop trusting that the quality of your work will speak for itself.
  • Look for any opportunities to “pre-perform” for your next-level role.
  • Don’t be your boss’ best-kept secret.
  • Get comfortable marketing the business of YOU!

Stop Trusting That the Quality of Your Work Will Speak for Itself

This is my foundational advice to you: Don’t make this common mistake. 

If you are frustrated that you haven’t been given that next career step and feel ready to take on either your first leadership role or a more senior leadership role, you are likely making some (or all) of these critical mistakes. 

  • Allowing yourself to be your boss’s best-kept secret.
  • Putting too much faith in your current organization having a pathway for you.
  • Assuming that what got me here will get me there.
  • Believing that it is a straight, upward path to your next-level role (it may not be!). 
  • Having a backup plan that consists of “dusting off my resume.” 
  • And, most importantly, you are likely trusting that the quality of your work will speak for itself, and get you that coveted promotion. 

Instead, start understanding your value, developing your profile, and building your reputation and reach. 

Advice for Professionals Seeking a Promotion

Here are six simple (but effective) pieces of advice I give ambitious professionals looking to move to the next level: 

#1: Be responsible for YOUR career journey 

You need to consistently put intention and attention ON, not just IN, your career. It’s important to see the forest for the trees in order to design and make better decisions about your journey. 

Each decision stacks and compounds, which has the ability to realign your trajectory and story. Shape it yourself, intentionally, rather than letting it happen to you accidentally.

#2: Pre-perform for next-level role 

Meeting expectations in your current job isn’t enough for you to stand out for the promotion. 

While you need to be a high performer in your current job, the real secret is to find ways that you can demonstrate experience, skill, competency, and readiness for the expectations of the next level.

#3: Curate your impact

Building on #1 above, your work should leave tracks. In other words, how you made a difference (directly or through your leadership). 

It is up to you to create this impact, capture the data, and catalog the stories. These are your bullet points; you have to be able to effectively and concisely recount those stories. 

#4: Don’t assume the organization has your back

You have at least as much chance of getting promoted outside your current organization as you do inside. Build your external reputation, relationships, and reach. 

Leverage LinkedIn as well as in-person profile-building opportunities. (Secret: this not only opens you up to external opportunities but will also cause internal decision-makers to value you more highly).

#5: Don’t be your boss’s best-kept secret

Make sure your boss isn’t the only one who knows how great you are!

Develop internal influencer relationships. Collaborate and add value across the organization. Get yourself on cross-departmental project teams. Find bona fide ways to present (and be present) at higher-level meetings. And: Build that LinkedIn profile and network!

#6: Get comfortable with marketing the business of YOU

I understand this may be outside your comfort zone. Here are a few tips do it authentically:

  • Get clear on (then claim) your unique professional value.
  • Discover your best fit professional “habitat;” this includes LinkedIn and other “community” forums.
  • Develop your profile, both internally and externally. 
  • Build your reputation, relationships, reach, and refer-ability.

I can promise you that the results on your career and, more broadly, on the quality of your life can be transformational. 

Follow this advice and you will be empowered to win that next-level role, generate more opportunity flow, and set yourself up for continued growth and fulfillment.

Additional Resources

Giving Effective Feedback Course

Leading High-Performing Teams Course

Why Choose CFI (vs Breaking Into Wall Street)

CFI Career Map

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