How to Get a Promotion: 15 Tips to Move up the Career Ladder

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a woman walking up steps

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long? Are your colleagues climbing the career ladder to better salaries, responsibilities and authority, while you’re left behind doing the same tasks?

If you’re nodding in agreement, don’t simply assume that you’re next in line for a promotion. You’ll need to prove that you have the skills needed to take on more responsibility.

So, if you’re happy with your company and are keen to get promoted, we’ll walk you through the steps that you need to take to impress your manager and rise through the ranks at work!

1. Set goals

Like setting a New Year’s resolution, you’ll need to sit down and define what your career goals are – whether it’s taking on additional responsibilities or transferring to a different department. Be honest about what you want to achieve.

To ensure that your manager is aware of your goals, talk about them during your end-of-year appraisal and ask for support to help you stay on track.

2. Be good at your job

This may sound like silly advice, but in order to move up the career ladder, you need to be super good at your job. Clocking hours and doing the bare minimum isn’t going to cut it when you’re looking for a promotion. You need to take pride in your work and become the go-to problem-solver to prove that you have what it takes to take on a higher-level role.

3. Take on additional responsibilities

Once you’ve mastered your own role, it’s time to go beyond your job specification and take on additional responsibilities.

If you’re wondering how to put this into practice, you’ll need to be present in every meeting and offer suggestions and support. For example, if you offer a new project concept that gets approved, make sure that you oversee its completion (even if it isn’t something that you usually work on).

And don’t be afraid to talk to your boss and directly ask for new challenges in the workplace.

4. Build relationships

If you have a good network in the office, they’re likely going to support you when it comes to the next round of promotions. So, to prove that you’re worthy of a promotion, aim to build strong relationships with your colleagues.

This, in turn, proves that you're committed to them and the company. Speaking to the Harvard Business Review, Amy Jen Su, managing partner of Paravis Partners and author of Own the Room, explains that to advance the career ladder, you should become a ‘good thought partner’ to your peers and should seek to understand their perspectives.

5. Gain new skills

In addition to taking on additional responsibilities, you should aim to gain new skills that will be attractive to your employer. If you’re unable to find opportunities to increase your knowledge within the workplace, find learning options outside of it. You don’t necessarily need to pay for online courses; you can gain new skills by doing your own research and watching free online tutorials.

6. Ask for feedback

When you’re trying to work your way up the career ladder, you’re going to need some pointers to help you rise the ranks, and there’s no better person to give you feedback than your boss. So, if you’re not usually given any praise, request a private chat and ask how you’re getting on. During this time, you can also express that you’d like to do more within your role, which will show that you’re committed to the team.

7. Keep note of your achievements

The best way to prove that you’ve succeeded in the workplace is to document your achievements. This can include saving good client feedback, creating monthly statistics charts or simply keeping an achievements folder in your desk drawer that offers a visual snapshot of all your successes.

8. Earn your boss’s trust

If you’re going to become your boss’s right hand, you’re going to need to earn their trust – and in most cases, this is never easy!

If you’ve been at the company for a while, your manager should have a good understanding of your personality and work ethic. That said, if you feel they’re still unconvinced, use your initiative and be proactive when it comes to work in order to prove that you can resolve a problem without having to be told what to do.

9. Handle your own projects

If you can prove that you can manage your own projects from the idea stage through to conception and execution, you will show that you’re indispensable. If this is, however, easier said than done in your role, speak to your supervisor and let them know that you’re keen and feel confident to lead the next big gig.

10. Be positive

Employees who typically get promoted exude a positive attitude and are generally happy around the workplace. These people are natural role models who care about the organisation and whose goals align with those of the company. Moreover, they’re the ones who are quick to admit when they’re wrong and learn from any mistakes.

11. Help others

If you want to advance in your career, you need to be a team player. Help colleagues in times of need, and volunteer to take on mundane tasks that others may turn their nose up at. By being helpful, you’ll show that you’re more focused on the team’s success rather than your own personal achievements – an attractive quality of a good employee.

12. Network with other professionals

Having a good network of industry professionals is extremely attractive to any employer. It suggests that you take your job seriously and that you’re keen on expanding your network to aid your success.

Besides industry networking, though, you should also take the time to get to know employees in other departments whom you might not necessarily work with. This will help you build relationships with them and may improve your communication if you ever need their assistance.

13. Avoid gossip

If you’re going to get a promotion, you need to prove that you’re trustworthy, and a great way to do so is to avoid office politics. If you’re known to engage in gossip and bad-mouth other employees, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be promoted to a managerial level where you may have to supervise the people that you’ve been gossiping about. So, however tempting a bit of gossip may be, rise above it and try not to get involved.

14. Stay motivated

It’s easy to fall into a slump when you’ve been doing the same tasks for a long period of time. However, if you’re seeking a promotion, you’ll need to stay motivated.

Keep reminding yourself why you need to work hard and what you will achieve once you get that promotion, whether it’s a salary increase, a better job title or additional benefits.

15. Ask for a promotion

After you’ve followed the above steps and proved that you’re a loyal employee, it’s time to ask for that well-deserved promotion. To ensure that you get a positive answer, you should hint at the request beforehand so that you don’t catch your manager off guard.

Fast-tracking your way to a promotion isn’t that difficult when you know where to put your efforts and how to stay motivated! That said, if you don’t get the outcome that you expected, you could always ask for feedback or seek alternative opportunities elsewhere.

Have you tried any of these tips and bagged yourself a promotion? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 18 August 2017.