Promotions are a natural and desired part of career progression. For working professionals, they indicate an affirmation of their hard work with an increase in pay and responsibility. For companies, they’re a way to reward their top performers while opening up slots to bring new blood into their workforce.

Unfortunately, sometimes promotions slip by due to circumstances out of your control, such as budget shortfalls. But there are other reasons why you may have missed out on a promotion. From your effort to your proactive behavior, there are things you have direct control of that can affect whether or not you get your next bump in salary and title.

Here are seven things to keep in mind in the run-up to your next performance review.

Go above and beyond

Candidates for promotion are employees who always go far beyond their manager’s expectations. To get noticed and land your next promotion, make a pattern of adding value above the benchmark that is set for each project you complete.

Don’t hesitate to grind out a few extra hours at the end of a project deadline to make sure everything is polished and perfect. If you finish up a task early, brainstorm ways in which you can take it a step further. Always look for ways to do things better, whether it’s optimizing a process full of red tape or using technology to automate repetitive tasks. Promotions come to those who work for them, not those who do the minimum that is required of them.

Keep your skills sharp

A great way to make a strong case for increased responsibilities is to continually expand and develop your skillset. Learning new skills allows you to perform well in new functions. Some skills even have associated certifications that open up new doors and opportunities for you to work on unique projects. Read about the skills, tools, and certificates that are highly useful in your field. Start attending courses, learning independently, and taking certification tests. These are not only great ways to open up new opportunities at work, but they look awesome on your resume as well.


Work cross-functionally

You’ll often find that professionals that properly use their diverse skillset rise through the ranks more easily. For example, some software developers are highly business-savvy, often because they’ve decided to start their own companies or build their own apps. This requires knowledge of how to market and sell a product.

The ability to infuse that sort of cross-functional knowledge into your work will allow you to take any project into an original direction. Applying technical skills to your account management process, for example, will allow you to better speak to technically minded clients. Find your niche and then discover how your peripheral skills can help you in your day to day work.

Build productive relationships

A common mistake of working professionals is avoiding or neglecting the professional network they can build in their company. Connecting with others in your organization is the easiest, most stress-free form of networking you could do. Many call this “office politics,” but in reality it’s a smart tactic to learn from and share your expertise with like-minded professionals at your job.

So go to the company happy hour, attend the corporate conference, and have coffee or lunch with your co-workers. It will allow you to contribute your skills to others in your company and be noticed as a person of value by them. Word of this type of reputation spreads quickly.

Act on feedback

Throughout your job, you will hear a good amount critical and negative feedback from your manager and your co-workers. How you respond to this feedback is a key sign for whether you deserve a promotion. If you can properly synthesize critiques from your peers, find out ways you can improve based on what they say, and then take action to do so, your efforts will be noticed.

For example, if your manager tells you that you would be more successful if you were better organized, don’t say that your method of “organized chaos” has worked out well enough for you so far. Instead, find ways that you can combine that organized chaos that has served you well with some organizational tools to make your workday more streamlined.

Whatever it was, as you act on a piece of critical feedback, return to the person who gave it to you and tell them about your efforts to improve yourself. You’ll show that you have respect for their opinions and take to heart what they say about you. This is a great sign of potential in any professional.


An important indicator of a person deserving of a promotion is their ability to lead and the initiative they take to do so. Each increase in title brings an increase in leadership responsibilities, whether it’s becoming the manager yourself, or simply becoming the most senior member of the team. Your manager will look for the individuals that make the effort to take part of the weight of leadership off their shoulders. So become that person who takes on an entire project, coordinates all team members to work together, provides smart delegation of responsibility, and owns the successes and failures of the team. You will show your ability to lead. That ability makes you a natural choice when it comes time for a promotion.


Finally, if you want a promotion, it’s important to ask for one. Part of moving up through the ranks in your company involves showing your ambition and desire to learn more and contribute in a greater capacity. Gather up your recent accomplishments and supporting details. Do a bit of clever research on potential projects you could lead if you were promoted. Come up with some ideas that you’d want to implement in a new role.

Take all this information, go to your manager, and make a strong case for why you deserve to be promoted. You may be told “Yes!” up front, you may be told to wait until later, or you may be denied outright. Whatever happens, new options will open up for you, whether it’s the promotion or the knowledge that your professional development may have been capped off at that company.

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