There are people I know who seem stuck in the same position doing the same job for 10 years or even more. What changed during those 10 years were the products and processes they handled, the colleagues that came and left, and even their bosses. Remember the sitcom ‘The Office’, where Pam, Jim, and most of the staff worked under – was it 5? – different bosses, for 9 seasons? Their jobs, however, practically stayed the same. Except for Pam, who moved from receptionist to salesperson.
If you know some of these people yourself, then you also know that they are mostly emotionally stable people who do their jobs well and reliably. These people are assets to companies because by staying in the exact jobs for years, they have accumulated a depth of specific knowledge and skills in their particular job.
Let’s take a teller for example. Having worked as a teller for 8 years, this person not only knows all the standard operation procedures, but also the customers, common complaints, and all the various extraordinary circumstances that can occur in the course of a business day, along with the best and fastest solution to solve it. These people are indeed pillars that every company needs. So if you happen to be one of these people, and you feel happy right where you are, you plan to stay there for the next 5 or 10 years, and your decision is backed by solid knowledge of what you wish to do with your career and life, then do this by all means.
The reason you’re reading this blog post is likely because this is exactly not who you are. In fact you are dying to get promoted. Most people are happy to be done with the interview process that got them into their current job. Although they are longing for a promotion to finally get some kind of combination of a higher salary, more prestigious title, and bigger responsibilities, they dread the prospect of having to actively seek out a promotion. It might be because the hunt for a promotion is usually associated with pestering your boss for an upgrade. But this is not how it has to or should be.
In this post, I will not go through all the things you need to do and have in order to get a promotion – yet. Instead, I will give you a larger scope on how to get a promotion. A very narrow view of ‘getting promoted’ is to advance within the company you are currently at, resulting in you getting a higher position, higher salary and perks, and a wider scope of responsibilities.
If it’s these three things you’re chasing, then I would plead with you to look at the goal of ‘getting a promotion’, from a bird’s eye view. There is more than one way to get promoted.
Pfieww! So I don’t need to pester my boss after all? Let’s quickly look at the 6 ways to get promoted:
1. Vertical Promotion
Most people hope to get promoted my moving up the corporate ladder within a company. Not only do they hope for it, but they also expect that this will happen sooner or later. Promotion within a department is never a guarantee, no matter how long you hang around. You can only get promoted if someone else leaves, or the business expands and creates more positions. By waiting for a promotion within your department, you are practically relying on this one department alone, to provide you with the possibility. Companies love filling positions from within though. So if a position ever opens, you will be in the best position to snatch this. Provided that you’ve done your homework and are ready to be promoted.
2. Diagonal Promotion
Moving horizontally would mean that you remain at the same level in the hierarchy, but move to another department or area of the business. This is definitely an advisable route to take. It’s a step-by-step approach where you have roughly the same amount of responsibilities, but apply them to a different area. Diagonal moves, however, are more interesting. Here you would move into a higher position in another department or area of the business.
3. International Promotion
Transferring internationally within a company often goes along with a promotion. Most international transfers have the aim of transferring best practices and skills or growing a certain part of the business in the destination country. The person who is charged with this challenging task will most likely be handling a scope that is larger than that in his previous position, resulting in a higher position. This is also commonly the case when an employee is transferred to a branch or office of the company in which business is less developed than the originating one. So if you have always wanted to work abroad and you are keen to get a promotion, this may be the way to go for you.
4. Created Promotion
To be precise, it is not you who creates the new position, but still the company, the business together with HR. However, if you are part of a rapidly growing branch of the business, then your ideas and the speed at which you actively grow the business can influence the decision to create a new position. If you grow the area under your command so quickly – sales and revenue in particular – you might need to expand from a two or three-man team to a larger one. New people will need to get hired, and you as the person who helped create this success and the one with the most experience is likely to become the new leader. This scenario is not the norm, but something worth exploring.
5. Outside Promotion
Sometimes there is simply no suitable position for you to move to, as there are no open positions within your department or even in the whole company you work at. You can wait and see until something opens up, but if you want to move fast, then perhaps it’s time to look outside of your company. The moment you start exploring different companies, in the same industry or even in a different business altogether, your options suddenly multiply.
6. Promotion to CEO
This is what thinking outside the box truly means. If you want to make an enormous leap, bypass multiple levels and become CEO, then the fastest way to go is to start your own company and become your own boss. Although the size of the business you oversee is likely to shrink dramatically (at first), the variety and scope of your job will most certainly explode.
Please note that none of the types of promotions above are official terms. They are not commonly used and no one would talk about promotions in that way in the workplace. I’m merely creating these labels to enable a better and quicker understanding of the idea, which is that there are many ways to achieve your ultimate goal.
Is getting promoted as fast as possible your main goal? Surprisingly there are quite a handful of friends and acquaintances I have who are not that keen on getting promoted fast. On the contrary, they are dodging a possible promotion. But that is a story for another time.