link_172601083You can help prepare yourself to pursue a promotion by taking actions in the 4 areas leaders consider when deciding who to promote.

  1. SKILLS: Your boss assesses what you do now and what you could do in the future.
    • Do your current job extremely well, exceeding expectations and goals. Show you’re capable of doing more.
    • “Do the job and then ask for the promotion.” The only way bosses know you’re capable of consistently handling larger responsibilities is when you demonstrate your skills while doing the job. If you think that’s unfair, you’re not ready for a promotion.
    • Increase your skill set. Ask your boss what you need in your skills toolbox to get promoted. Add skills through training, classes and volunteering. Colleges and universities offer many courses online. Ask for training in leadership skills like public speaking. Volunteer, perhaps for your alumni association, to gain leadership experience and work on teams.
  1. EXPERIENCE: Your track record is the best indicator of future success. Show (and document) consistent growth in scope and range of responsibilities, performing so well that bosses entrust you with more.
    • Take on additional responsibilities. Observe your boss and colleagues, identify bottlenecks or undone work, and ask if you can help with those. You’ll gain experience, build your reputation as a team player, and show that you “own” the whole company, not just your specific job.
    • Participate in company-wide groups or initiatives. Join an affinity group, help plan a party, or work on special projects. You’ll develop new skills, such as teamwork and planning – and be visible to a broader group, including company leaders.
  1. ATTITUDE: Your attitude deeply affects a boss’s decision to promote you. They look for people who show maturity and leadership ability or potential.
    • Become a positive asset. Find solutions to challenges. Adopt a “no whining or blaming” attitude – own your work. Say “yes” to your boss. Clarify exactly what your boss wants and take notes to show you’re prepared. Do what it takes to get the job done.
    • Acknowledge others’ contributions. Show you’re a leader and team player by concretely recognizing that an organization depends on many people.
    • Mimic leadership behavior and appearance. “Act as if” you already have the promotion. Copy your boss and other respected leaders. Come in earlier and leave later. Check with colleagues to see where they need assistance. Alert your boss to serious concerns – not telling tales, but contributing to getting the work done.

4.   APPEARANCE: It takes mere seconds to make a first impression, and 45 minutes to change it. Studies show appearance counts.  Carefully dressed and groomed people get positive attention.  People wearing sneakers or scuffed, sloppy shoes don’t.

    • Dress with care. Wear more tailored clothes. Invest in well-made, stylish shoes and keep them polished. Get a good haircut.
    • Copy the way leaders dress.  It’s called “dressing for the part.” People will notice when you dress the part of a leader.

By following these suggestions, you’ll have more confidence when you step up and ask for a promotion.


Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.