Top Ways to Get Promoted at Work

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How to make 2019 a turning point for your career

Personal trainers, among other professionals, often discuss how January is their busiest time of year—dozens, even hundreds of potential clients attempting to arrange appointments in keeping with the spirit of their New Year’s resolutions aimed at self improvement.

But by February, the same professionals joke, they’re as lonely as ever, back to working with their smaller but more dedicated group of long-term, loyal clients.

For 2019, rather than making a New Year’s resolution that requires a radical change in personal behavior, why not focus on a more attainable goal that will mandate fewer changes overall—but figures to have longer-lasting, far-reaching consequences for your future both personally and professionally?

Why not focus on earning a promotion at work?

Internal transfers, resignations, reassignments—they happen constantly, and each one in your department means a new opportunity available for the existing employees. Here are a few tips that will put your name at the top of the list for the next available opening:

1. Know what your ultimate goal looks like.

If you’re a 20-something just a few years removed from commencement, chances are that bump up to the CEO or COO’s chair isn’t on the docket for 2019.

But if that’s a position you aspire to procure in the future, what can you do right now to start moving in the right direction? Do you want to be the Nurse Leader someday? Ask to work at a time where you can quickly move into the role of Shift Supervisor. If your goal is to move into hospital administration, be sure you’re working during ‘business hours’ when the decision-makers are most likely to be present in the building and take account of your accomplishments. If your goal is to specialize in your field and requires additional education or certification, don’t wait to sign up for class, get started now.

Remember, these are small changes for the purposes of a long-term goal. The payoff will be gradual, then sudden—not immediate.

2. Keep it positive when others are tending toward negativity.

Let’s be honest, stay at any job for long enough and you’ll be able to find something to complain about. Maybe one of your coworkers has a tendency to play music too loudly, or one department of the company is particularly slow to respond to emails. Maybe a certain supervisor has been piling an inordinate amount of paperwork on your desk lately.

But think about it this way—if you’re showing up to work stressed out and stuck in a negative frame of mind now, how are you likely to react when you have more responsibility in a higher position? Instead, focus on what you enjoy about work—the things that pushed you toward the job in the first place. Portray that positive attitude toward co-workers, keeping conversations professional and avoiding gossipy topics that always trend toward negativity.

Rather than complaining, find potential solutions to those bothersome issues around the office. Be someone who solves problems, not someone who finds them. And if the stress and annoyances are still too much, there’s nothing wrong with finding a friend outside of the office who will listen to you vent over coffee, lunch, or after-work drinks.

3. Make the most of your current position.

The best way to get promoted, of course, is to show how good you are—or how overqualified—for your current position. Even those tasks that seem mindless and repetitive at this point are opportunities to shine. The best way to start down this path is to review the job description or expectations for your current position, then strive to exceed that description. After all, meeting expectations are what you were hired to do. You won’t stand out by merely doing your job.

A frank, honest conversation with your supervisor about expectations may be helpful in this instance as well. Theoretically, no one should have a better idea of what it takes to move to the next level than the person directly above you.

4. Volunteer for different opportunities around the office.

Show the powers that be that you are ready, willing, and able to take on more by volunteering for additional projects or work-related ‘committees.’

Find ways to improve processes, make the office a more pleasant place, or make people’s jobs easier (bonus points if you can make your boss’ job easier.)

A good boss will be thrilled that you’re taking the initiative to show interest and stay as occupied as possible. After all, it’s their job to keep you happy, active, and engaged.

One word of caution: make sure not to neglect your primary responsibilities in your haste to take on additional opportunities!

5. Show up on time, stay late when necessary.

This may seem overly simplistic, but a big part of life—and work—is simply following the rules and consistently living up to your end of the bargain. How many coworkers can you identify that have never shown up late or snuck out a little early? (Remember, just identify them in your head—not out loud.)

Studies have shown that one of the traits bosses admire most in their workers is keeping your word. If you say you’ll be in by 9 a.m., get there on time. If you’ve agreed to stay until 5 p.m., do so—but be willing to stretch it to 5:30 or even 6 p.m. on occasion. Your dedication will be rewarded.

6. When all else fails—ASK!

If you find yourself wanting a promotion, or wondering why you haven’t been considered for a higher position—have that frank discussion with your supervisor. Remember, he or she may be wondering why you haven’t shown added initiative or whether you’re considering moving onto another opportunity. A simple, brief conversation will reinforce the fact that you’re on the same team and willing to do what it takes to move everyone forward in a positive direction.

There’s never a bad time to make a couple positive changes for career advancement. But the start of 2019 makes for an easy-to-remember milestone for turning things around for yourself professionally. Happy New Year!

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About Author

Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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