You land your dream job out of college and are really excited about your company, their values and the work you’ve been doing. A year passes and then suddenly you feel you’re going nowhere in your career trajectory. There’s no clear path to your next promotion and it feels overwhelming to think about your next step within the organization.
The promotion process takes time, potentially connections, hard work, and an increased skill set. Every company is set up differently, and there isn’t always a ladder to climb. It takes a whole lot of and courage and effort to stand out in the workplace. Finding the right fit of company culture can be the hard part, but landing your next role doesn’t have to be.
Here are 8 tangible strategies to help you land a promotion within your current organization:
1. Talk With Your Supervisor
Communicating with your supervisor about your goals and opportunities is essential in career development. According to Celia Cameron, Vice President at Cabrini University, “If you can’t own your career, you run the risk of staying stagnant and being left behind. You want to demonstrate to your boss that you can take initiative and help him or her look good. So, identify potential gaps in the department or company and create tentative goals that address those gaps. If you supervisor isn’t setting goals for you, send your own goals via email as a way to track your successes.”
2. Dress The Part
Look at the attire of the individuals in senior leadership roles within your organization and adjust your wardrobe accordingly. If you usually wear business casual and the position you are interested in wears business formal ̶ change it up. The subtle change will help to illustrate that you are taking your job seriously and will reframe your mindset for a new role.
3. Develop Your Strengths
According to Gallup, employees who use their strengths are 8% more productive in the workplace. Management wants to see their employees engaged, productive and producing results for the organization. Sign up for professional development, ask to take on more projects that align with your strengths, and stay sharp on current industry trends. Find opportunities to grow, develop your natural talents, and capitalize on what only you can uniquely bring to the workplace.
4. Set Up Informal Meetings
Ask colleagues and your superiors for coffee to get to know them on a personalized level. In large organizations, it might be harder to build relationships across departments, and this is your opportunity to do so. During these conversations, you may hear of job openings and can ask questions about specific skills and experience required for various roles within the organization.
5. Consider A Lateral Move First
Often times, we might be missing a specific skill set required to move up. According to Christina Merriweather, Owner of 20/30 Enterprises, a Career Consulting Company, taking a lateral move could lead to a promotion down the line. “While it often seems common sense to continually seek advancement and climb the ladder in your particular field when making career moves, it’s really important to be open minded about what ‘advancement’ can mean. Depending on your career goals and how narrow the scope of your day-to-day work is, there are times when making a lateral move into a position in a different department may make more sense.”
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6. Help Your Boss Stand Out
When your team puts together something great, people will notice and your boss will remember you when it is time for a promotion. If your boss gets a promotion someone will need to fill their job. And if you played an integral part in that, they will remember and help line you up for their role. If they also hear of another opportunity within the organization, they could identify you as the best candidate given your previous positive contributions.
7. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Identify a task, project, or committee within your organization that aligns with your career direction and ask to get involved. If the position you are interested in requires more public speaking, ask to present at a conference. If it involves more face-to-face client interaction, ask to tag along to learn how it’s done. Demonstrate that you can do the job before you have it.
8. Attend Office Functions
It’s important to not only be on your game inside of the office, but also outside of the office. If there is a company happy hour where your superiors will be there go. If there is a suggested retreat be there ready to work together. Demonstrating that you are a team player and interested in getting to know the people you work with can go a long way. Some of the best ideas happen over a lunch or drinks, and you never know how talking with influential members in a social setting could impact your career.
Working with your manager, participating in professional development, and being an engaged member of your organization will lead you down the path towards a promotion. It is important to identify areas where you can develop and ask your supervisor for ongoing support to do so. Be open to this being a process, and use your strengths to increase productivity and to stand out in the office.
This article was first published on Forbes Magazine.