Seven Steps to a Promotion

By Martin Yate

You are loyal, competent, and work hard but somehow that promotion eludes you. These seven steps will help you cross the bridge from where you stand today, to where you want to stand tomorrow.

Core-team players win promotions

All the raises, praise and promotions go to the people in the inner circle that exists within every department and every company. The people in the inner circle are the core-team players whom every manager relies on. You know who they are and you also know if you are in that inner circle or languishing in the outer circle.

If you want a promotion, your first step is to get on the contender's short list, and that means being seen as a core-team player and becoming a member of the inner circle. Start with studying the behaviors of inner circle team members and adopt them. You'll notice they all apply a set of skills that help them do everything well; these are known as transferable skills and they are the key to professional success.

Transferable skills are common to success in all jobs, at all levels and in all professions. When you analyze the professional behavior of core-team players, you'll notice that they are creative and have good problem-solving and prevention skills because they have excellent technical skills and the frame of reference to apply creativity and analytical skills. They get more done than others because they multitask effectively and they communicate well in their words, manners, conduct and dress.

Find and fill the skill gaps

Complete a GAP analysis by looking at the requirements of the target job and compare them against the skills you already possess, to identify the skill gaps that yawn between where you stand today and your desired promotion.

The easiest way to gather these insights is to do Target Job Deconstruction (TJD). Collect six job postings for the job you want, then compare them one against the other, looking for requirements that are common to all six, and then common to five and down the line till you come to skills required by only one or two employers.

Capture your findings in a Word doc, and you can look at the finished document and say to yourself, "When employers hire someone for this job, these are the skills they require and this is how they prioritize them." When you compare your TJD against the skills you already possess, you'll see "gaps," those skills you are lacking and need to develop.

This will give you the outline of a personal skill development program that qualifies you for the promotional step. Talk to your manager about wanting to build your skills for the sake of becoming more valuable to the department.

Develop a behavioral profile for professional success

Most jobs require you to interact productively with countless other professionals in the course of doing your job; colleagues and co-workers, people in other departments and companies up and down the professional hierarchical chain. Look at the best people you know who have worked in the target job, and going down the list responsibility by responsibility, identify what made these different people stand out so positively in your mind. Do this conscientiously, and you will have a behavioral profile of the person everyone wants to work with and every employer wants to hire.

Avoid the behavioral profile of professional failure

Look at people you know doing your current job who seem permanently stuck in the position or who stand out because of their inadequacies. Go through the deliverables of your job, responsibility by responsibility to identify what makes these people stand out as inadequate in some way. Do this conscientiously as well and you will have a complete behavioral profile of the person no one wants to work with, no employer wants to hire; in other words, a behavioral blueprint for professional failure.

Stay on management's radar

Over the time it takes to complete the development program outlined in your GAP analysis, and to gain experience with the new skills, remember to keep your manager informally up-to-date on your efforts every couple of months.

Develop a resume to reflect new skills

When you work at the same company for years, you imagine everyone is aware of what you can do, unfortunately this is rarely the case. All too often, you have been categorized and pigeonholed. A new resume will help you capture what you bring to the promotional job and it will make management recognize that you are serious.

When you feel you have the skills and experience to qualify you for that job, pull out the TJD document that you used to identify the skills and their priorities for your promotional target job. This document now gives you a template for the story your new resume has to tell.

Successful career strategy

When your skills keep current with changing market demands, you stay relevant and you maximize your earnings potential. You are pursuing professional growth within your company, which is always the smartest first step. But if over a year or two you see that promotion is not going to happen, you have the skills and the resume in place to ease your transition to a new team.

About the author: Martin Yate CPC "Successful careers don't happen by accident" An ex-Silicon Valley headhunter and HR Director of a publicly traded storage company, N.Y. Times bestseller, Martin Yate CPC, brings a lifetime of street-wise career management experience to his work. The Knock Em Dead career management books unfold a new and unique approach to getting what you want out of life rather than becoming a powerless drone trapped in some high-rise salt mine. With 17 career management books collectively published in 81 domestic and 63 foreign language editions, he is increasingly thought of as the father of the new career management. Perceptive, direct and witty you can join Martin here to change the trajectory of your life forever. As Dun & Bradstreet says, "He's just about the best in the business." delivers exemplary resume and coaching services and encourages affiliate relationships with professional colleagues.