HR Remix Your Career

How To Get A Promotion


All this talk about the Olympics has me thinking about the hard work and dedication necessary to get to the top level of your field. I can’t help but be astonished by the years of training and effort that go into reaching Olympics level achievement.

To reach the Olympics alone is an amazing accomplishment, to take it to the next level and medal even more so.

I wish people would apply 10% of an Olympic athlete’s effort to maintain and enhance their career.  To get ahead and get promoted you need at least that much dedication, effort, and hard work.

What does it take though? How do you convince your company you are ready for bigger and better things?

Well, a lot of it depends on the kind of company you work for and if you are looking to move ahead in your department, cross departments or move into a completely different part of the company.  Although situations vary, here are some basic tips to get you started:

1. Understand the politics in your organization.  Yes, you need to spend time understanding and even playing a little politics. I’ll take a pause here while outraged readers tell me about how THEY don’t do politics…OK here is why you need politics:  Understanding and playing the political game helps you understand how to go about getting the promotion you want.  Is kissing up important? Working on the XYZ Money Generating Account? Taking an overseas assignment? Or working at corporate headquarters?

2. Now that you understand the politics, select your target.  What you want to do is going to determine this step.  Do you want to be a manger? Start working on your people skills.  Talk to managers inside your company.  What skills do they have? What makes them successful in their job?

3. Get the skills – You know what you need to do now get it done. This is where you start working on the skills you need to develop to get that promotion. This could mean taking some classes at night, getting certified in your field, or taking on some stretch assignments.

4. Make the case – You know what you need to do and you’ve gotten the skills.  Now it’s time to make the case for your promotion.  This could be in the interview or it could be pitching the idea to your boss.  Regardless the venue, make sure you present a reasonable, professional case that highlights how your skills fit and will enhance the new role.  This is not the time to ask for the 25% raise.


After all that what if you don’t get the job? Well that stinks and you have to try again (sorry no secret HR advice here) but whatever happens, remain gracious and professional.  How you handle the negative is just as important (if not more so) then how you handle the good stuff.

This post originally appeared on on August 22, 2012. 

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