How to Get a Promotion

Do you feel like you're stuck in your current job? Are you ready to move up? It's tough to climb the corporate ladder, but if you want a job that excites you and pays well, you'll likely have to make the climb at some point. If you want to get a promotion, you'll need to be a patient team player while also being an ambitious self-promoter. It's a difficult balance to strike, but these tips can help.

1. Work for a company that can give you room to grow. The type of company you work can determine your potential for promotion. When applying for jobs, seek out companies with opportunity for advancement. You don't have to work for a huge corporation, although these usually offer plenty of promotion possibilities at any given time, but you do want to look for a company that has enough going on so that you can be assured you're not running into a dead end. Preferably this company will be doing well and growing, though many companies, especially very large ones, tend to grow in cycles.

2. Concentrate on just doing the best you can in your current position. Excellent performance reviews aren't sufficient to get you a promotion, but they're necessary for it. So are good attendance, punctuality, and a willingness to go the extra mile when the company needs it. Be known as the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. Showing up five minutes early and leaving five minutes after your shift can turn into a fortune of extra income over your lifetime when you are the one that gets the promotion.

3. Make sure people know you're doing a great job. You don't want to toot your own horn too much, but you can't always expect your merits to speak for themselves. Keep in good contact with your supervisor, and make sure he or she knows what you've been up to (assuming you've had some smashing successes). Don't be an attention grabber or "brown-noser," but make sure people know who you are and make sure you get credit where credit is due.

4. Be popular. In an ideal world, promotions would be based solely on merit. We don't live in an ideal world, though, and office politics will often play a role in who gets promoted and who doesn't. Use and develop your people skills. Be kind and helpful to your coworkers, supervisors, and underlings. Develop relationships with people you work with, play golf with the boss, and get to know people (other than your immediate supervisor) who make decisions in the company. Be present at company events and network with people from outside your department.

5. Make sure the right people know you want a promotion. Don't be afraid to tell your supervisor about your career goals - most good supervisors will ask you about them and try to be helpful. Continue to do a great job in your current position, and don't seem fed up with your current work, but let decision makers know if you really want a particular job.

6. Apply for jobs within the company. These days you can't just wait for a promotion to fall in your lap. That happens sometimes, but most promotions, especially at large companies, require you to go through the application and interview process, and usually you'll have to compete with candidates from outside the company.

7. Seek out new skills. If you become the best customer service representative of all time, you're well on your way... to remaining a highly regarded customer service representative for the rest of your career. It's not enough to be great at your job; you also have to develop marketable skills that prepare you for more responsibility. When you gain skills and qualifications far beyond what your current job requires, your employer may see keeping you in that job as a waste of your talents.

8. Get a mentor. A strong relationship with a manager or someone higher up in your department can open a lot of doors for you. For one thing, you'll likely learn a lot about the organization and about the jobs you might want to get in the future. For another, you'll have an ally who will be willing to go to bat for you when you do decide to apply for a new opportunity. Finally, your mentor may groom you to succeed him or her when they move up or retire.

9. Groom a successor. It's a common paradox: you're so good at your job that you're indispensable, but you're so indispensable in your current position that the company would fall apart if you were to leave that position. The solution to this problem is to take another employee under your wing and train him or her so that they will be ready to fill your shoes if you get promoted.

Some people are afraid that their understudy will take their job if they do this, but as long as you're a great employee and continue to develop your skills, the only way you'll lose your current job is by getting promoted. Training another employee (or several) also shows that you have management skills and that you care about helping other employees develop their skills.

10. Develop a new position. If you figure out a better way to do your existing job or see the need for a new position, don't be afraid to talk to management about creating this position. Since you're the one who saw the need and, presumably, you're best qualified for the position, this can help you take on new responsibilities, even if you don't get a big pay raise at first.

11. Seek employment elsewhere. If, for whatever reason, you seem to be at a dead end with your current employer, it's time to look for better opportunities elsewhere. This can be hard if you feel a loyalty to your employer, but you do need to do what is in the best interest of your career or you will become unhappy with your job. Recent surveys show that as many as 75 percent of employees are looking for new jobs at any given time, so you won't be alone.