How to Earn a Promotion at Work

Getting promoted sometimes feels like a puzzle with a solution that's ever-changing. That's because, at many companies, there are no hard-and-fast rules as to who gets promoted.

But just because in many cases the path to a promotion is vague does not mean you can't put yourself in the best position possible. If you follow the rules below you won't always get the job, but you will have a better chance at landing the promotion you will (if you follow these suggestions) richly deserve.

1. Do your job well

It seems obvious, but you would be surprised at how many mediocre performers expect a promotion based on seniority or being "next in line." Sadly, at some companies, that's enough, and if that's the case, there's probably nothing you can do to enhance your candidacy.

If, however, you work in a meritocracy, where job performance counts, you will want to be clearly better than people who have been around longer than you. In fact, in most cases, if it's even close, a promotion will go to the person who has been around the longest. If that's not you, it's important to make sure your performance stands out.

2. Always say yes

When new projects or extra work comes up, it's important to be willing to take it on. Sometimes that can lead to new opportunities, but in every case, your willingness should be noted by the boss.

Real leaders take on the tasks that nobody else wants. Doing that before you have an actual leadership position shows that you are willing to do whatever is needed for the company to succeed.

3. Be first in and last to leave

In my first job, I got my boss' attention simply by always being there. It wasn't that hard in the morning as most people strolled in around 10 a.m. I arrived before 9 and made sure to always leave after my boss. That was a bit more challenging as sometimes she stayed late, but I gained trust and responsibility simply by being available when she needed someone.

4. Be a good teammate

Getting ahead and earning a promotion does not mean you should undermine your coworkers. Share credit liberally and work to be the best teammate possible. If that means someone else gets promoted before you do because they honestly deserve it, shake their hand, and have a piece of cake at the party celebrating their good fortune.

It's better to have your coworkers on your side supporting you. If they are, then when your time comes, they will be happy for you and supportive of the decision to promote you.

5. Make your goals clear

It's not fair, but sometimes someone who is good at his or her job can get left in that job because they perform so well. That's why it's very important that your boss understands that you have a goal and ultimately are working toward a promotion. Don't be a pest, but make it clear that you're working toward something.

Be patient (to a point)

Just because you get passed over for a promotion does not mean your efforts have failed. Consider whether the person who got the job deserved it. That does not mean he or she is better than you. Sometimes, it's a case of another person being good enough with more time put in.

Be patient, but not endlessly so. If it's clear that you're being ignored or that seniority is considered above everything, recognize that all the work you put in might still get you that promotion, but you may have to go somewhere else to get it.

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