How to Get Promoted

How to Get Promoted

by Larysa Grant

Human nature often moves us towards the exploration of new opportunities. Who has never dreamt of learning a new language?  Who has never dreamt of travelling to new countries?  Who has never dreamt of being promoted to a higher position in a company? But is it what you really want?

Like all opportunities, a promotion can have major implications to your career, your family, and to your overall life.  As in every important decision, a well-defined strategy, clarity of thinking and confidence are paramount to make the right choice.

promotion ladder

Firstly, you want to ask yourself why you want to pursue a promotion.  Why do you want this promotion?  What will you gain from it? What could you lose?  Why is the promotion important to you?

Very often, after being promoted, especially to a leadership or management role, people get disappointed.  It turns out that in their new position they can no longer do what they love – be it computer programming, talking to clients or using their creative talents. Promotions often include new responsibilities for departmental planning, budgeting or disciplining employees.  These new responsibilities are often of no interest to a newly minted manager.  Having received the salary increase and the fancy business card, people often grow disappointed with such a “promotion”.

Secondly, you should ask yourself about the company itself. Why do you want to stay in this particular company? Choosing a company is like choosing a home.  If you don’t like where you live, you should sell the house and move to a new neighbourhood. Are there further advancement opportunities? What if you hit the glass ceiling at this organization and never move another inch up? Do you share the company’s values? Sharing values of your organization becomes more and more important. Clients and colleagues will sense right away your passion for the common vision or lack thereof. Do you feel supported by the company? Once you take over a new job, you will need a new set of tools to fulfill your tasks – a team, technology, a budget and upper management’s blessing. Are you confident you will get it?

Thirdly, you should ask yourself about your potential new colleagues. What personal traits do they have in common? How are they valued by the company’s executives? Is there a potential for conflict with any of them? Can you work with them?  Do you want to work with them?

Lastly, if thinking about these questions is not enough for you to make a decision, then find a way to experience similar roles. For example, volunteer or serve on a Board of Directors at a similar organization. Fill in for your co-worker during their vacation and learn how to be in “their shoes”. Such experiences will help you clarify concerns when considering a promotion.

After asking all of the above and getting some similar experiences, if you are optimistic and determined to get promoted, it is time to make a plan of action.


In Canada, having a reference from a colleague or manager is invaluable. I consider it the safest and fastest way to grow in an organization. But how do you receive these referrals? Having figured out what the responsibilities of the new position are, it is helpful to try them out. In a large number of countries, people begin to take on new responsibilities and perform new tasks only after being promoted and begun receiving their new salary.

For the most part, this is not the case in Canada.  You first are expected to show what you can do by taking on new responsibilities and proving that you are capable to take on the new position.  It’s a hard truth that you are expected to take on more responsibilities and more tasks for the same salary in the same position prior to being promoted.  This can go on for several months, or even several years, before the trial period ends and your promotion is made official.

Therefore, I encourage you to take the initiative and showcase your skills and talents. At an appropriate time ask for that promotion by supporting this request with accomplished tasks, newly acquired clients, savings secured or financial earnings made for the company. These should be supported with thorough notes of all projects and tasks that you had been responsible for. This information will be very helpful in obtaining that desired promotion.  Even seemingly small tasks, when added together, will draw the picture of a qualified professional who is ready for that coveted promotion. Remind your management and team members about these projects. You have created a strong foundation for yourself. You can be trusted. You are liked by your team and management. You have long been ready to take on that new role!

But that isn’t all that you can do to get that promotion.  You can expand and deepen your qualifications by participating in professional conferences and forums, by being active in social media and contribute articles and blogs, or by answering questions on LinkedIn and other online industry forums.  Thanks to the Internet, it is quite easy to follow new developments in our industries and your enthusiasm will be duly noted by your colleagues, management and clients. Be out there by being visible in your personal communications and in the virtual world. Organizations will do their best to retain such employees and that promotion could be how they do.

But remember.  There is a possibility that competitors will steal you for a more interesting and higher-paid job. Would you mind?


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