Bosses tell us what it takes to get promoted

Promotions aren’t given, they’re earned.

Gone are the days when promotions were the result of being able to progress along specific career paths; the impact of globalization, technology, and flatter organization structures, has changed the promotion paradigm. Today, for an employee to get promoted, she must be able to create and manage her own career path.

That said, here are some of the important things bosses tell us to get promoted.

1. Practice Self-Promotion

“Unless you’re a narcissist, self-promotion isn’t a natural behavior.”

– Meredith Levinson, CIO 

Our parents taught us that modesty is a virtue; just like job-hunting; if your boss doesn’t know how great you are, don’t expect to get ahead.

It’s important to be a “known quantity” for you to get the promotion you deserve (and earn!). For example, if you’ve had a major sales or project win, or was able to come up with an award-winning program, you should make sure your boss knows. This could be as simple as a text message, email or via casual conversation.

Basically, you should be selling yourself and make it known (with subtlety) that you’re eager for a promotion. If it makes sense, send monthly emails to your boss and keep her updated on your progress. Don’t forget to roll-up and share your accomplishments and accolades at the end of the year – right around review/raise time.

2. Bond with Me

Think of your boss as a border guard between countries.


As an ally, he can effectively raise the gate for you to move upward to your next position, or, as an adversary, he can keep the gate down and block you from progression.

Clearly you want him as an ally.

Take advantage of all the opportunities you find or create to turn a boss into your biggest fan.

Professional settings can be used to seek counsel and imply your interest in getting a promotion. Performance appraisals can be used to talk with your boss about the possible roadblocks to promotion and how to overcome them. Think lunches, social gatherings, hallway conversations – anyway you can get quality facetime.

3. Take on more Responsibility

Bosses are always looking for eager members of their staff to step up.


To get more done.

Your boss has a boss too. Who wants results. And you’re asking to take on more responsibility? Giddyup.

A great way to do this? Simple. Ask the question “What can I do to help?”

“Acquire new knowledge continuously and stay on top of trends or developments in your field. If you’re seen as an expert in a particular subject, you’re more likely to be needed for new projects coming up.”

 – Alex Cavoulacos, The Muse

Asking for more responsibility (and not necessarily more work) is a good way to inform your boss that you are interested and have the desire to help the department and the company succeed. Through this, you’ll shine a spotlight on yourself. And your team.

4. Be a Team Player

Second only to your boss, the next group you need on your side when hunting for a promotion?

Your teammates.

You can be sure your boss is going to be talking to your team when considering a promotion. She’s going to ask questions like:

  • How do you get along with Tom?
  • Would you promote Tom if you were me?
  • How do you think Tom would work in this role?
  • What are some of Tom’s strengths and weaknesses?


The best team players? They rock at their jobs AND lift the team to higher highs. Is that you?

5. Create Your Own Opportunities

Heck, why even wait for a promotion?

Do it yourself.

What this doesn’t mean is tromping into the HR office and demanding one. We’re pretty sure that’s a shortcut to an exit.

What it does mean is to figure out where your team or organization needs you most, and start doing that.

Not full time. Maybe not even during the workday. But a slow, methodical approach to doing what needs to be done.

No promotion this time around? No worries, you’re already paving the road to the role you want the next time your team is considering promoting its brightest.

Published by

Darin Herle

I call Victoria BC home, am a proud father of 2 and husband to 1. Trackmeet co-founder, Cub Scout leader and baseball fan.

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