Today I have some insights for you about your next promotion. Are you thinking about that? Maybe you should be.
If you’re conscious of keeping your career moving forward, you’re thinking about your next move. To some degree, you’re thinking about your next job or position. And somewhere in the back of your mind you’re thinking about your next promotion.
In fact soon after you settle in to a new job, you’ll start collecting data to help you decide your next move. Soon after a promotion you’ll begin planning for the next one.
I was not very practiced at having my eye on my next move. Partly because I lacked good mentorship and partly due to my own naivete in navigating my career.
This is why I want to be sure to share this advice with you. It makes a big difference in the progression of your career. It largely determines the level of potential you reach.
To help you as you contemplate your next promotion, I’ve put together 5 pertinent ideas for you to set the stage and get things in alignment. These are tips for preparing you. And for getting yourself noticed by those making promotion decisions.
5 Tips for Aligning with Your Next Promotion
- Act like you have the job you want.
By that I mean: Start working as if you’ve already been promoted.
It’s a misconception that working harder at your current job will get you promoted to the next level. Yes, you should be known as someone who does that job well. But that alone is insufficient. You must also demonstrate your capability to do more.
For example, career progression in engineering typically requires you to move from individual tasks to more complex projects and to do more and broader problem solving in collaboration with others.
Start doing work at the next level to show that you have some understanding of and skills for higher level work. Find a way to take the lead. Or provide assistance with a more complex project. Find a way to do work at the level you want to be.
Another sign that you’re prepared for higher levels is your ability to find problems to solve rather than having them handed to you. This shows that you have a bigger picture mindset and are becoming more proactive vs. reactive.
So if you can begin to work on problems that you find yourself, you’ll be demonstrating higher level abilities. Most organizations have more problems than people to solve them. So it shouldn’t be difficult, but you may need to be more intentional about it.
- Find and fill your skills gaps.
You spend a large part of your career identifying your gaps and getting the right training and experience to fill them. This helps you compete well for promotions.
But you likely lack some skills you don’t know about. Seeking and getting good feedback from people is the best way to find your gaps.
Find the people who are willing to give you feedback and will be honest with you. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Be curious and open minded.
Then be sure to take action to fill your skills gaps. While it’s not necessary to meet every single criterion in order to apply for a job, you should be aware of them. And have a plan for developing the skills you think are most important.
- Tell people about what you do.
You already know this from Episode 30 on self-advocacy and Episode 37 on your message of impact. I’ve said this many times: Talk about your work. Talk about the success of your team. A lot. Make sure people know who you are and what your impact is.
Part of this is building relationships. The stronger your network the more people will know about your work and the value you add. This garners support for you come promotion time.
The other part is informing others so they are aware of your capabilities and potential. This ensures that when the right opportunities come along you are among the candidates.
- Take charge and drive your promotion.
Promotions don’t just happen. And while your boss may be in favor of a promotion for you, it’s probably not high on their priority list. You have to be the one to push this agenda.
Here are some suggestions for taking charge and driving your promotion:
- Research how the promotion process works in your organization.
- Make it known that you want a promotion. Tell people you’d really like to do that job.
- Know who will be making the promotion decision and reach out to them.
- Make sure you’re doing the kind of work that will help you get promoted.
- Build a solid promotion story to sell yourself.
- Watch for organizational shifts or departure opportunities.
There’s much you can do to increase your chances of promotion. But some things are not always under your control. Sometimes the process is unfair. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances.
In these cases, watch for organizational shifts – or reorganizations – and departure opportunities.
Opportunities for promotion often appear during reorganizations. When shifts occur in goals, leadership or team structure. This kind of upheaval is uncomfortable. But it gives you an opportunity to find a place where you fit and can make a contribution.
With the right perspective, you can find a way to help the restructured organization advance that also aligns with your career goals.
If your promotion is not happening where you are, consider going elsewhere. When you switch organizations it’s not uncommon that a promotion comes with the move. If you’re looking to accelerate your career progression, this may be a good strategy for you.
I know you’re doing well in your engineering career. It’s a great profession to be in with so many ways to have an impact. But I want to make sure your career is everything you expected and more.
Is your career rewarding? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you on the right track and having an influence? If you hesitate to answer, take a look at my Signature Program.
Working together we can catapult your career to where it should be and put you squarely in the role of technical expert and savvy leader. Fill out an application today to schedule a discovery call.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast, by now you’ve gained some insight that you can apply to help your career thrive. And help you thrive in your career. It goes without saying that promotion is a big part of that.
With the guidance in today’s episode, you can strengthen your strategy for getting promoted. Leverage it to successfully navigate your next promotion opportunity.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast, I’ll share with you some career insights I gained from the WE Local conference. Coming up on Episode 46.