People often tell me they're looking for career development. Being promoted usually offers advantages including a bigger salary and better benefits. Maybe you can let go of some repetitive tasks and get others to do them for you. At very least it'll give you something great to tell your in-laws/mates down the pub/friends at the next dinner party *delete as applicable! Of course the glory may be short-lived if a pile of complex challenges awaits you in your new executive in-tray but in most cases being promoted is a real step forward.
So how do you get promoted or at least enhance your chances? Here are my ten top tips:
Plan your career: If you want to increase your chances of promotion you'd generally be well advised to start by working for a growing company in the first place. At interview it's worth asking what the next level of career development might be and over what period you might reasonably aspire to it. Once in the job you should be able to raise this again at least at every appraisal (if your employer doesn't do appraisals I'd ask your manager if you can have an annual review to see how you're doing).
Focus on the now: having advised you to plan for the next job, I'd say it's much more important to focus on the current one. When people claim they're ambitious what I expect to see from them is ambition right here right now to do a great job today. I really don't buy the idea that someone would be more committed if they were paid better or had a higher ranked job. Good employees do today's job well. If they want to leave they do so but while they're around they're committed to the cause. So if you really are ambitious focus first on what you can do today to be better at your current job. Show ambition right here right now!
Get some input: appraisals are all well and good but don't wait a year to find out how you can improve. It's worth regularly checking with your boss what you could do better. Questions like how would you do this or how could I have maximized this opportunity will go down well and will prove that you really are trying hard. Generally, it's good advice to listen more than you speak!
Give away credit: It's tempting for ambitious people to "big themselves up" by claiming the credit for all good things happening around them. Just as Lady Thatcher said "if you have to say you're a lady then you're not" I'd say if you have to claim you're great then you're probably not! Bigger people give away credit at every opportunity. This demonstrates confidence, commitment to the team and frankly helps people like you more.
Work hard: This isn't a plea for people to work all the hours God sends, in today's environment that may be seen negatively. But equally people who want to be promoted should try to be at their desk early and not be the first to leave. If you've packed up your pencil case by quarter to five you've sent a message that work is not your priority. Volunteer to take on extra tasks especially those no one else wants to do! Be helpful and eager to take on responsibility when your boss isn't there to prove you can do more.
Make suggestions: ambitious people show their bosses they have fresh ideas of how to work better or to save money. It doesn't matter if those ideas are never implemented and they don't have to be perfect. What matters is that you're showing intelligence and interest in your work.
Find things in common: this is a great way to build a rapport with your boss. If, like me, your boss likes Arsenal (if you can bear it) find out about their latest results or great new signings! If you can't do that chat to him or her about their children or weekend hobbies or whatever. Bosses are people too, so build relationships with them. People like to promote people like them!
Apply for jobs: if your company advertises vacancies apply for some. Even if you're not successful it's another way of communicating that you want progression.
Don't moan: ultimately no one likes moaners. Don't use your energy complaining about your job. Use it trying to make progress.
Play nicely: personally I love to work with happy, relaxed, calm, positive people. The "elbow your way to the front" approach portrayed in the likes of the Apprentice may be good TV but it isn't great business.