If a promotion is one of your goals for the next year, are you doing everything you can to make it happen?
It would be nice if hard work and talent would automatically lead to a job with more pay, more responsibility, and a better title. But in most cases, it takes more than that to move to the next level.
Make Yourself Known
Look at the job you'd like to have a year from now. Who selects candidates for this position? Who does that person work with and ask for advice?
"Then you systematically sit down and think about how you're going to make contact," says Helen Harkness, founder of Career Design Inc., in Dallas. There are lots of ways to do this. You can volunteer to serve on a committee with the people you need to know, for example. You can forward them articles or information that relate to their expertise.
Help Your Boss Succeed
Often, your boss is the person who will decide if you'll be promoted. But even if not, your boss will almost certainly be consulted. So impressing your boss is a top priority.
Marianne Adoradio, a recruiter and career counselor in Silicon Valley, suggests focusing on your company's key goals, then talking with your boss to find out which are most important in your department. "It's really important to be aware of what is going to make your boss successful, what is most important to him or her."
Start Doing the Job
You don't want to stage an office coup and start making personnel decisions that are your boss' responsibility. But you need to show that you can work at a higher level than your current position.
"People are easily promoted when they show that they can already do parts of the job they want to move into," says Steve Levin, principal of Leading Change Consulting & Coaching, in Portola Valley, California. "If you want to move from being a manager to a group manager, start taking on responsibility for what a group manager does. Start thinking like they do."
Then you can make the case that "I'm already doing the job; I just need the title."
"That's pretty irresistible to your boss," Levin says.
Have a Plan B
Many people think there's a system in place at work that will take care of them and their career path, Harkness says. "They expect it to happen 1-2-3, automatically. They do the right thing, and they're going to get that promotion. It doesn't work that way."
In fact, Harkness says, it can happen that "you do everything you're supposed to do and it doesn't work." It's important to understand that the workplace is uncertain -- and to know what your backup plan is if you don't get the promotion you want.If the promotion was a stretch and your boss is encouraging even while turning you down, it may be worth spending another year gaining experience. But you may also want to explore career options outside the company