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Landing a Promotion

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Landing a Promotion

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

In a perfect world, we all work to our full capacity every single day: we're shining examples of perfect employees who come in early, stay late, always give 210%, and do everything we can to better the company.

Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world, and most of us will confess that we don't ALWAYS put forth maximum effort; however, we still do a pretty good job, get the work done and occasionally even put forth a brilliant idea or two. That's fine and dandy except when the opportunity for a promotion pops up. Say one of your department managers decides to take an early retirement. In a few weeks or even months, his position is going to be up for grabs, and good money says that your company would rather hire up from within than bring a brand new person into this position. You want this promotion, but you have to wonder: is just doing a "pretty good job" going to land it for you? Chances are...no. But all is not lost. You still might have an opportunity to put yourself in the front running for the position.

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First, make sure that the right people know you're throwing your hat into the ring for this position. Tell whoever is in charge of finding a replacement and overseeing the hiring process that you're VERY interested in being considered, and ask them about the position: what are the responsibilities? What qualifications and experience are they looking for? And who else has decided to go for this position? The sooner you get your name out and find out about the position, the better. And hey, you might even scare off a few other potential applicants!

Second, think long and hard about the time you've put in at the company and start preparing a list of your accomplishments there. What have you done that has benefited the company? Have you save them money? Brought them new clients? Reduced employee turnover? List everything out: you're going to need it when you snag that interview!

Next, it's time to make a splash. Determine what problems the company is facing and develop a solution, a strategic plan that will resolve the issue. If you don't have all the skill sets required to solve the problem, put together a team that can. The hiring panel will not only be impressed with your plan, they'll take note of how you took the initiative to root out the problem and form a team to solve it. There's no better way to wow your superiors than by saving the day with an innovative solution to a problem.

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Remember that face time is good time. Figure out a way to get yourself and your accomplishments in front of the hiring decision makers BEFORE the interview. One of my favorite ways (that I tell all of my coaching clients) is to start or become part of an office newsletter. Newsletters are designed to highlight accomplishments, right? So why not YOUR accomplishments? If your office newsletter already exists, write a few articles spotlighting others and then work in a few mentions about yourself. If you're starting a newsletter, do the same: a few issues about the stellar teams and individuals in the company and then insert your own accomplishments here and there.

Becoming a part of or driving a newsletter is also an excellent way to put yourself in front of the higher-ups by offering to interview them for an article. Few can resist a taste of fame, even if it's only in a department newsletter. And not only will you be starting to build relationships with the hiring decision makers, you'll also have the opportunity to grill them on how they see the company: what challenges the company is facing, the future of the company, and the type of people who will take the company to the next level.

Finally, don't forget about the people you work with in your current position! The hiring panel will probably want to speak with them during the interview process regarding what it's like to work with YOU. Make sure that your 360 evaluation - what your peers, superiors and subordinates have to say about you - is a positive one. Talk to the people you work with and ask them for honest criticisms and feedback. Absorb what they say and in the following weeks or days, prove to them that you're working hard to utilize your strengths and diminish your weaknesses.

And if there doesn't seem to be an opportunity for a promotion on the horizon, take a page from the Boy Scouts and "be prepared" - you never know when one will pop up, and you should ALWAYS be ready to land it!


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“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe