It’s been a long weekend and you may have gone on your final road trip before you hunkered back down at work for your final quarter of the year. Or perhaps you’re the planning type and realized after a nice holiday that you need to make some real career moves by year end.
There’s nothing more gratifying than getting a promotion — it makes you feel recognized for your hard work, and a more confident professional, no matter what line of work you’re in. Conversely, not getting a promotion you wanted — or even expected — can destroy your self-confidence. Executive career coach Bonnie Marcus learned this the hard way earlier in her career.
Marcus was working for a national healthcare company and won three promotions very quickly. As she describes it, “I was on the fast track and recognized for my great performance…a VP position opened up in my territory. I immediately threw my hat in the ring. I thought I was a shoe-in.”
As you might expect, things didn’t work out exactly as Marcus had expected, and she was ‘devastated’. That said, she learned several valuable lessons from not getting that promotion. She advises people do three things: Never assume that your hard work will be enough, do your homework, and build a network of allies and champions.
Here are a few ways to turn those basic principles Marcus espouses into a practical checklist of to-dos:
Prepare to make an argument that’s about more than just
* Map out exactly what you’re going to say. Your pitch should include your major accomplishments and the value you’ve added.
* Prepare your numbers. If you get a bump in title, that’s a good sign you may also get a pay raise. A promotion doesn’t always come with a pay raise, so you have to think about how to ask for a raise.
Do your homework
* Determine the best time to approach a promotion. Obviously sometimes it’s more logical to ask for a promotion than others. Perhaps decisions of this type are made at a specific time every year. Perhaps it’s logical to simply bring the conversation up when you have just had a great performance review.
* If this is your second attempt at getting a promotion and you were able to get feedback about why you didn’t previously get a promotion, remember what feedback you got and make adjustments so that you don’t get the same resistance again. Was the issue last time that you needed more experience or different skill sets? By now, you should be able to have made those adjustments, taken on that extra project at work or an online course to boost those previously lacking skills.
* Be prepared to suggest that you have other job opportunities or offers. Of course, this is a risky step and should only be taken if you’ve actually lined up these possibilities, but there’s no better way to get a manager moving on your promotion than the prospect of potentially losing you.
Build allies and a support network
* If you’re expecting a year end promotion conversation, you need to start building relationships now — and you may want to get concrete and ask for a recommendation in addition to just feeling like you have the moral support of others. This can be in the form of a formal recommendation letter, but it’d probably be more persuasive if someone senior or adjacent in seniority to you actually had a conversation with your boss about what an asset you are. This is why cultivating sponsors at work is so important for your career. Even if you have them, however, they may not speak up for you, or even know you want a promotion, unless you ask for it.