How to Get Promoted 5 Times in 7 Years

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how to get promotedA promotion is a dream for some. For me, it’s an expectation. Over the past 7 years, I have received 5 promotions and I expect this trend to continue in the future as well. I’m not cocky. I’m not over-confident. I just do what’s necessary to get noticed and to get ahead in Corporate America.

Now, you might think that I’m putting in 80+ hours a week and have a cot stashed under my desk for those late nights where it makes more sense to just catch a few hours of sleep at work. This is absolutely NOT the case. In my last job, I worked the standard 40 hours per week, took vacations, and spent plenty of time at home with my future spouse. You CAN get promoted without selling your soul to your employer. I’m living proof of that.

How to Get Promoted at Work

My most recent promotion came just a few days ago, and it came with a hefty 15% increase in pay. If you want to learn more about how to get promoted, take a look at the action steps below. In the order of most important to least, these are the areas that I have discovered to be the most influential in my quest up the corporate ladder.

how to get promoted1) Work Hard

I can’t believe the number of people in this world that do the bare minimum and then expect to get massive pay raises. I made this title as simple as possible because working hard should be just that simple. Do everything you are assigned to do and perform those actions as efficiently as possible. Then, if you have extra time, reach out to your boss or to other teams for additional work. This shows your boss that you’re worth more than you’re currently being paid and by performing work for other teams, it’s making you more valuable to the company as a whole because your knowledge base of the company is larger than anyone else. Want to know how to get promoted? Start out by simply working harder.

2) Investigative Thinking

I once worked with a woman that had absolutely no investigative thinking. It was the most frustrating thing ever. To learn something, she would have to write down the exact step-by-step process, and then she would follow those notes to a T until she memorized them. If during the course of her work, she would come across a number that was $50,000 instead of $5.00, she wouldn’t even blink twice. All she cared about was step #17, then #18, and then #19….¬†Due to zero investigative thinking, my friend is now unemployed and is having trouble finding work. Not surprising…

If you’re wondering how to get promoted at your place of employment, strive to be the opposite of my friend. In everything you do, think to yourself, “Does this seem right? What result did I expect here? How can I verify this answer?” Always consider what the result will likely be before you arrive at your conclusion. If the result differs from your initial thought, then try to verify that seemingly odd result with another research tool or process.

how to get promoted3) Know What You Want

This is probably one of the toughest things for any individual to do, but it is also one of the most important. If you want to advance in your career, then you must decide where you want to end up. In other words, do you want to be the head of the operations team, or do you want to be the CFO? These are two very different things and will require a much different avenue.

Knowing where you want to go in your career will help you decide which projects to accept and which open positions to apply for. If you have absolutely no idea, then a promotion to an obscure area of the company might just pigeon-hole you for the rest of your career. Just like action step #2, you have to use that brain of yours if you want to advance in the company.

4) Get a Mentor

About four years ago, my co-worker was interested in getting paired up with a mentor. She immediately suggested that I do the same and actually sent an email to the HR department to get me set up. I reluctantly went along with it. Little did I know that I would soon be mentored by the VP of Finance (at that time), and he’s now the CFO of our company. This simple suggestion of a mentor landed me my first job in finance and was recently one of the main reasons for my latest promotion.

Are you having trouble figuring out how to get promoted? If you know what you want, and have the ability to mentor with someone that is two or three levels above you in that department, I urge you to take it. You’ll absolutely never regret it.

how to get promoted5) Be Financially Stable

When the so-called “professionals” put together their list for how to get promoted, this one always seems to be missing from the article. I, on the other hand, have discovered that financial stability is incredibly important in advancing your career.

When I was young and just out of college, my concerns were not in finding the absolute best career for my future ten years down the road. At that moment, I just needed some money so that I could pay my bills! Thankfully I had enough sense to accept a job at a Fortune 500 company instead of at the golf course down the road that promised huge cash tips from the members (it sounds stupid now, but at the age of 23, this was a tough decision!).

For those that are strapped for cash all the time, their mindset is not about how to better themselves or how they can provide more value to the company they work for. Instead, they’re worried about their various bills, the looming economic downturn, and any other financial hardships that might be coming their way.

Now that I am free from all my debts, I realize how important financial stability really is. With very few monthly obligations, I feel more free to speak my mind at work (constructively of course) and am less fearful to switch jobs and try new things. If the job doesn’t work out, no big deal, I’ll live on my cash reserves for a while until I find a better one. Want to know how to get promoted? Getting financially stable is a great place to start.

6) Know Your Skills and Be Confident

We all have a certain skill set and it’s important to show it off from time to time. At my workplace, my skills are process improvement and automation. A few job titles ago, I was trained to do a job by human interaction only. There were no training manual, no online tutorials, not even a simple list of helpful hints to get me through those early days. After six months or so of many Q&A sessions, I finally had a grip on the job and kindly asked why there weren’t work instructions for this role. Their answer: “It couldn’t be done. It was too complex to put on paper.” Naturally, I made this my project during my down-time.

After about a year, I had developed a 62 page instruction manual that correctly outlined the actions that needed to be taken in almost every scenario. What “couldn’t be done” had just been completed (and is still used today I might add). I didn’t have to be flashy and brag about my skills in figuring out processes. I just did the work that was necessary and it has helped me advance into the next few stages of my career.

how to get promoted7) Partner Up With Rising Stars

I never thought about this one until my mentor mentioned it a few years ago. The corporate life always seems to be dog-eat-dog. Everyone is fighting for that next promotion and people often don’t care who they step on to get themselves to the top. It doesn’t always have to be like this though. If you’re looking for how to get promoted again and again, you don’t necessarily need to beat everyone in this corporate conquest. Instead, befriend those that are sharp and talented like you and will likely head up to the top as well. If one of you makes it up first, then they’ll likely appoint some of you near the top as well. After all, you’ve been working together for a long time and compliment each other’s skill-set well. It’s definitely a different perspective, but it can be very effective in the long term.

8) Be Into What You’re Into (and never stop learning)

You might do great work while you’re at the office, and you might even be very personable, but if you don’t care one iota about the product or service that your company produces, then you likely won’t get very far up that company ladder. Want to know how to get promoted? Be into what you’re into. If you can’t get excited about your company’s product, then maybe you’re working for the wrong employer.

A few months ago, I started exploring jobs outside of the company. One of those external jobs looked enticing – the pay was great, the atmosphere seemed pleasant, and the proximity to my house would have worked out just fine – but the product they produced was liquid medicine. Borrrring…. I would never have been able to get excited about that purple liquid ever in my life, so I removed myself from that interview process. If you can’t get into what you’re into, then you’re likely not to succeed there.

So there you have it! Eight fantastic action steps for how to get promoted. It’s worked for me five times now, and I’m confident it can work for you as well.

Are you interested in how to get promoted? What has helped you advance in your career?

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7 comments to How to Get Promoted 5 Times in 7 Years

  • I feel like I’m following most of these steps – except for the mentor part. I need to go find myself a mentor! Thanks for sharing these great action steps.
    Anum @Current on Currency recently posted..13 Ways You Are Blowing Your Money Away

    • The mentor really was key. Find someone that is on the career path that you want and that is 2-3 levels higher than you. Take them to lunch and pick their brain. See if they’d be a good long-term mentor for you.

  • Niomi@Financially Confident

    For me, I’ve been promoted title-wise, but not pay-wise. But this is a great list of tips to keep in mind, should the opportunity come up for me! Especially #3: knowing what you want. I’ve really began to realize lately that “you only get what you ask for” and having a plan for what you want to ask for is a great step in the right direction.
    Niomi@Financially Confident recently posted..Frugal Friday

    • Knowing what you want is tough. That takes many people until they’re 30 years old to figure out. But, if you can legitimately take action on each of these steps, I believe your chances for a promotion will greatly improve. Thanks for reading and commenting, Niomi!

  • Nice post! One thing I’d like to add is this: Keep Innovating. Yes, innovation is a gateway for promotion. If you innovate yourself, you can introduce new things to the organization.

    • Hi Chella. Also true. Business need to continually learn, innovate, and grow to survive. Be on the forefront of this and a promotion could very well be in your future.

  • […] matter what you do at work and no matter what you earn, you can always make more. Just think, if you currently earn $40,000 and your spouse earns $25,000, couldn’t you shoot […]

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