Guest Posts

Five Ways to Earn a Promotion at Work

Your morning at the office starts sour. Your colleague wins a promotion and a celebration ensues with cake and ice cream. Later, you complain to fellow workers. “I keep my head down and do my job,” you might say, or, “I never pester my boss for promotions!”

Your rungs on the business ladder look broken. How can you possibly climb again? Here are five ways to move up.

1. Stop Playing the Victim

oh no

Image via Flickr by Omar Gurnah

Quit asking, “Why me?” The better question is, “how do I get a promotion?” Whining to other workers is unprofessional and upper management will notice. Forbes columnist Glenn Llopis urges job seekers to move away from the recognition realm and into the respected realm. Never rely on your résumé or years on the job.

2. Above and Beyond Without a Net

A great way to move up is to volunteer for projects, even outside your department. Take on a risky project even if failure is possible.

Your boss sees three things in this:

  • Initiative
  • Experience beyond your title
  • Selfless risk-taking

The PDI Ninth House leadership model has samples of 5,945 managers showing five major levels of leadership from first-level leaders all the way to senior executivse. The traits of the senior executive include a willingness to take the lead and assume risks. See the correlation?

3. Seek Out Education

Education matters, according to the 2013 Census Bureau. Workers with a bachelor’s degree earn 1,108 per week, while a worker with a master’s degree earn 1,329 a week.

If you want to go back to school or pursue an online emba program, talk to your boss about the advantages. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement. If not, they may help you with other perks like a flexible schedule or time off incentives while in class.

4. There is no “I” in Leader

You want to stick out, and you want to steer the ship. First, you must move beyond yourself and think of others. Help colleagues be successful. Take the lead with tough assignments and be the go to guy when no one else can. Your bosses will notice you working selflessly with other departments to lead, learn from co-workers, and collaborate. Find a mentor so you can learn the tools of being a future mentor.

5. Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease…Sort Of

Don’t be afraid to ask for a promotion, but use tact. Avoid moments when your boss stresses over workloads or heads to lunch. Schedule a meeting that allows both parties to prepare. No employer likes being caught off guard. Plus, follow-up if some time passes between your first conversation. Many employees give up at the first sign of constructive criticism, or they assume that lack of a quick response means a no go. A great boss takes time to consider the advantage of moving you up.

Skills like these will benefit both you and everyone around you. Be open to more education. Lead by example. Head a project no one else wants. Give your bosses room to breathe but let them know you are invaluable. Attention hounding is not necessary. The right people are watching.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I would add that it’s key to talk to whoever makes the decisions (but first your boss, if that would be going over their head) to get their feedback on what you can do to move up the ladder. It serves two purposes: strokes the bosses ego and also can give you some insider information that people who don’t ask wouldn’t get!

  • #2 like MoneyAhoy said real go getter’s are always going above and beyond. My co workers complain about not getting paid enough but they dont do anything extra to deserve a raise.

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