Sonia Hendy-IsaacBy Sonia Hendy-Isaac – Senior Lecturer, Curriculum Design for Employer Engagement

Promotion is the key to unlocking new opportunities and experiences – easy, right? If you are able to develop a clear strategy for your promotional pathway – yes, actually, it can be!

First things first – understand your environment; it is essential when planning promotion to know what opportunities are available to you. Use this checklist to help focus your analysis and create your plan.

Why do I want a promotion?

Sounds like a silly question, right? Wrong. It’s the best way to identify your motivator – are you in it for the money, the prestige, the challenge, or something else altogether? Regardless of the reasons, it’s crucial for you to acknowledge them, and the order in which they are important. For example, if money is your key motivator, the role itself may be less important, but if you just want to have a particular job title, then your choices will be different. These motivators will always shape your thinking; understanding your ‘why’ will help you make the right decisions.

Can I gain promotion in my current workplace?

A starter for ten – are you happy in your current environment? If the answer is no, is a promotion likely to make that situation any better? If it is, then great! If not, consider looking for a new challenge outside your current company. If however, you are happy in your existing workplace, then you’ll need to scope the opportunities; taking into account your motivator, what is the next step up?

If you’re working in a large, corporate environment, any promotional path should be fairly clear, but in a smaller company, this might be less obvious. If you are able to identify a role, what does that job actually entail and is that what you want to do? Promotion is great on the surface of it, but if the next logical step within the company isn’t a job you want to do, is it the right step for you? Would there be different opportunities if you changed departments?

If you can’t identify an obvious role, who could you ask for advice within the company? Or perhaps you could create a role? Is there a gap in the company structure that you could identify and fill? If so, who is best to speak to about such an opportunity?

Can I do the job?

This is an obvious question, but one that a lot of people don’t take seriously; it’s far easier to just say, ‘of course I can do it’, when in truth, you might not have the skills set, the expertise or the experience. Just like Rome, promotions are not built in a day! Take this as an opportunity to up-skill and identify areas for professional and personal development.

Analyse the job specification of the type of role you want – what’s missing? If there are gaps – can you bridge them within your current role and ask for additional training or more responsibility? If you can’t do that in your workplace environment, could you develop your experience through a social activity such as volunteering? It’s important to acknowledge skills, experience and attributes you develop outside of the work environment – promotions can often rely on the ‘whole person’ picture, so make sure you present the whole you!

If however, there’s nothing on the job specification you haven’t already got – you have to ask yourself – am I able to articulate my position and readiness for promotion? If not, how do I do that? You may want to ask whether your CV is up to date or actually reflects your experience, brush up on your interview skills or consider a business mentor to support you – all of these things will help you to gain your promotion.

What’s my timeframe?

If you’ve already considered the environment, your motivators and your development needs, it’s time to set a timeframe. When do you want the promotion by? Can you influence the timeframe or are your reliant on other factors, such as waiting for the job to become vacant?

So who have you told?

It’s nobody’s business but yours, right? Wrong! One of the key reasons people are overlooked for promotion is a lack of communication – it’s essential to communicate your intentions. This is relatively simple if you’ve decided to look outside your current company – you look for a job vacancy and apply for it… Hmm, that certainly was the case when the economy wasn’t in its current state, but now you need to network, manage your social media presence and increase your profile. Follow the companies you’d like to work for on Facebook and Twitter – social media is a key recruitment tool and you’re just as likely to hear about job opportunities through this medium as any other.

If you’re planning to move up in your existing workplace, it’s worth factoring in the company’s current promotional practices – did your current supervisor or manager come from within the company or were they recruited from outside? If it was from within, ask them how they did it – be open about your plans and ambitions, ask for additional responsibilities to demonstrate your intentions and structure a progress plan with them if possible. A realistic timeframe is important to both parties – if your company only has vacancies every two years and your timeframe is promotion within the year – you might both need to reconsider the position.

Wrapping it all up

Be clear about what promotion you want and importantly, why you want it. Know the steps needed to progress – acknowledging professional development needs and finding ways to bridge those gaps is crucial. Set yourself a realistic timeframe, and finally, let people know your intentions, ask for support and recognise opportunities to serve your promotion ambition!

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac

Sonia Hendy-Isaac

Senior Lecturer, Curriculum Design for Employer Engagement