12 Tips to Promoting Yourself (and Not Waiting for Your Supervisor to Do It)

One thing I have learned in my career is that no one else really can promote you – you have to “promote yourself.”  Sure the physical promotion may come through your supervisor recommending you and filling out the paperwork to approve it, but you have the power to ignite that process.  By thinking about where you want to be in 5…10…or 15 years, you can start working towards your goals NOW.  There are many different paths to success but here are some tips to help you along the way.

1.  DO YOUR CURRENT JOB WELL

I think this goes without saying so I won’t go into too much detail.  Of course, you must be performing satisfactorily in your current role if you would like to be promoted within your company.  Having a positive attitude might be a great add-on as well!!

2.  GET A MENTOR

80% of people who get promoted have someone higher up on the “food chain” who speaks favorably of them.  That being said, identify someone who you feel you can learn from and has been where you are trying to go.  This may be your immediate supervisor or someone 2 or 3 levels up from you.  You can actually have several mentors and it can be as formal or informal as you make it.  Maybe you have a set time to meet each month and you have questions written down or maybe you just chat whenever you can over lunch or on the phone.  Whomever you choose should be someone who you can trust to keep your conversations confidential.

3.  COME TO WORK EARLY / STAY LATE

In general you should be a few minutes early when you arrive to work.  I would say if you are supposed to be at work at 8:00, you should arrive at least by 7:45.  And as soon as the day ends at 5:00, you shouldn’t always be the first one out the door. Most managers work longer hours than their employees and if you want to be promoted, you should go ahead and adopt this practice. Coming early and staying late also shows flexibility and dependability, which is viewed very favorably in the workplace.

4.  DRESS “UP”

If you would like to be promoted, you must look the part and this means dressing a little bit more professional than what is required.  Take note of how management in your office dresses and follow suit (no pun intended).  If you notice that male managers wear a shirt and tie and the female managers wear heels, then you want to do the same.  Your supervisor has to already “see” you in the role you desire and this is somewhat determined by how you dress and carry yourself.

5. TAKE ON ADDITIONAL TASKS

You will be viewed as a team player if you occasionally take on more tasks than you are assigned.  Take the initiative to see if any of your team members need help.  Your manager will notice this.  Now, make sure when you take on these additional tasks your own workload doesn’t fall by the wayside. (See tip #1)

6.  ASSIST YOUR SUPERVISOR

Assisting your supervisor is key.  He will more than likely be the person doing the promoting and/or be your main cheerleader, so he must see your value and potential.  Do whatever you can to make his workload lighter….WITHOUT being the “teacher’s pet.”  You just simply make yourself available to assist when needed.

7.  IMPLEMENT NEW IDEAS / PROGRAMS

Regardless of what industry you are in, the ultimate goal of every company is to save money while making more money.  If you can initiate an idea that does either one of these, I would say you are well on your way to being promoted.  Companies normally identify some annual goals and perhaps a slogan for that year, center your idea/program around this.

8.  EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST TO BE PROMOTED

A lot of times people are never considered for promotions because no one knew they wanted to be promoted.  Also, your manager can’t groom or prepare you if he doesn’t know what area you are interested in.  Now, of course you shouldn’t walk into your manager’s office on day 1 and say you want to be promoted, but after a reasonable amount of time you do want to express your desire to move up.   Be sure to have an idea of what role you would like, so you can find out how to get promoted for that particular job.  Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and have frequent meetings with your supervisor.  Most employee reviews happen once a year, however, you should ask to meet once a month to discuss your strengths and opportunities for improvement.  This eliminates surprises during your annual review.   Ultimately, you must be patient and persistent because most promotions do not happen overnight.

9.  BE A DEPARTMENTAL LIAISON

When other teams/departments have an issue, you want them to think of you as the ‘go to guy.’   Learning a skill that no one else in your office knows how to do or being the best at something almost ensures this.  This way other people outside of your immediate department also recognize your value, which could give you more options as far as what areas you could be promoted to.

10.  GET MORE EDUCATION / TRAINING / SKILLS

Look into the job you want and see what education and skills are required, then do what is necessary to fill in any gaps you may have.  Get a certification, take an online training course, get better at public speaking, start a blog, join professional organizations and attend professional development workshops related to your industry, etc.  Oh yeah….as you’re doing all this, update your resume!

11.  GET LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Getting letters of recommendation from those who you’ve done business with could prove extremely beneficial for you….especially if they are your clients.  After you have successfully completed a project or closed a deal, don’t be bashful about asking for a letter of recommendation.  Remember, you have a goal you are trying to reach – promotion. Three letters of recommendation should suffice.  And it doesn’t always have to be a formal letter.  If a  client emailed you praising your work, keep that email and use it as a recommendation.

12. KEEP A PORTFOLIO WITH YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

This is actually something you could do for your entire career.  You should include things in your portfolio such as recommendation letters, certificates, awards, special projects, education, training, etc.  When it is time for your annual review, you are ready to show your value to the team. Use as much hard data as possible – numbers, dollars, and percentages.  Some companies may have a shared drive where they track all projects, but I highly recommend that you keep track of all your projects yourself.

BONUS TIP:  Not all promotions are vertical.  You may make a lateral move and it still be a promotion for you and get you well on your way to your ultimate goal.  Also, don’t get caught up in job titles.  Regardless of what the job title is, it is about the work you performed and what you accomplished.

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

1)  Not Catering Resume | Cover Letter to EACH Job

Yes, this is time consuming but very necessary.  If you have 1 resume and cover letter that you send out to 25 jobs you have just wasted your time.  Employers are telling you exactly what they are looking for in the job description, so use that as your “cheat sheet” and cater your resume/cover letter accordingly.  Plus employers want to feel like you want to work specifically for them.  The cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with the reader and show the research you have done on the company.  You should mention accomplishments on your resume that directly relate to the job description.

2) Not Networking and Making Connections

60% – 80% of jobs are never advertised so if you are not networking to access the “hidden market” you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  You should network before you really need to and have job prospects before you need them.  You never know who you might meet now that may be able to help you in the near future.  You should also have business cards with you at all times so those you meet will be able to contact you in the future.  When you meet someone connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember you.  Be sure to personalize your invitation to include when and how you met.

3) Sticking to Traditional Methods

The days are long gone where you can just see a job online and apply and wait for the phone to ring.  That alone does not guarantee you a call for an interview.  Just like you are looking on the internet for a job so is everyone else.  You have to think of non-traditional methods that will set you apart from other candidates.  Some of those methods would be asking for an informational interview or connecting with employers first on LinkedIn; then very subtly asking them for tips on breaking into your desired industry or asking them to review your resume.  You can also mail your resume to an employer using snail mail.  Everyone likes to receive something in the mail so that will get the employer’s attention.  Also, sending a video resume, which is  your 1 -2 minute commercial, is a definite way to make yourself stand out.  You can send it to an employer right along with your regular resume.  Creating a “brand” on social media is almost necessary these days no matter what your industry is.  If you position yourself correctly you can let the job/employer find YOU.

4) Disqualifying Yourself on Social Media

Now, while it is important to create a “brand” on social media, it is equally as important to do it the correct way.  93% of employers nationwide use social media for reasons to hire or not hire a candidate.  Because they receive so many applicants, employers will Google your name and look you up online for reasons to eliminate you.  Those reasons might be inappropriate pictures, profanity, discriminating remarks, or negative comments about job/supervisor.  I would suggest you Google your name once month to see what an employer will see when they look you up.  If there is something out there that may raise a red flag, delete it.  Having more “professional” things like a LinkedIn profile, professional Twitter account, blog or portfolio will counteract anything negative that may be out there.

5) Not Marketing Yourself Appropriately

Your resume, cover letter, online presence and professionalism in person are how you market yourself.  They should all match and you should be the same on paper, online and in person.  If someone didn’t know you and only had to use your resume, cover letter and online presence to “judge” you or initially get an idea of who you are, what would your image be?  Think about your top 3 areas of expertise.  Does your brand match up with those 3 areas?

6) Poor E-mail Etiquette and Written Communication

I recently had someone whom I’d never met send me an e-mail like this….

             hey dena its michael, here is an updated resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day and helping me with my resume!

This was all the e-mail said….nothing more.  So, I explained to this person that if I had been an employer I would have deleted it without replying.  An employer is very busy and receives numerous job inquiries so time is very critical.  They are assessing you in various aspects and you never know what will cause a red flag.  You should never send an e-mail like you would send a text message.  If you’re not getting any responses to your e-mail, it could be your e-mail etiquette.  You always want to be very professional and use correct grammar.  Address the employer by Mr./Ms. with their last name until they tell you it’s okay to call them by their first name.  You can’t say you have great written communication skills on your resume and have a poorly written e-mail or cover letter.

7) Not Answering Interview Questions Adequately

There are several types of interview questions – traditional, behavioral, hypothetical, etc.  You should be prepared to answer all of them and you MUST practice. Even the most seasoned job seeker should practice answering questions in a manner that comes across natural and conveys what he/she can do for the employer.  That should be your focus – letting employers know what you can do for them and how you can solve a problem or fill a need that they have.

Traditional questions generally relate directly to the job duties and are asked to understand your background and experience better.  Behavioral questions are asked to see how you would handle certain situations.  Have SPECIFIC examples prepared for these types of questions.  Hypothetical questions are asked to see how well you think on your feet and perhaps to see what reaction the question will get.

For tips on answering the various types of questions, read my other blogs, view my videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/denabilbrew) or look up the various types of interview questions on Google.

8) Not Following Up

It is very important that you follow up as that could be the difference in whether you get the job or not.  You want to follow up to an interview or networking event immediately – preferably within 24 hours.  Send them additional information about you – LinkedIn profile, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.  Thanking the employer for his/her time is a nice gesture and proper etiquette.

 

The Interview is not Over until You Follow Up

Oftentimes I am asked by job seekers what they should do immediately after an interview.  They are not sure why the follow up is so important, when and how to follow up,  and the age old question….”Should I send an e-mail, mail a thank you card or leave it with the receptionist on the way out the door?” 

Let’s tackle the first area….why the follow up is so important.  Say for instance, you are having an intimate gathering at your house and you post a notice on Facebook and 100 people respond saying they want to attend.  You know you can only accommodate a few people so you choose very carefully.  You finally narrow it down to the 3 guests you will extend a personal invitation to.  Those 3 people accept and come to the intimate gathering at different times.  You speak with each of them in great detail for an hour, give them a tour of your home and feel like you have gotten to know each of them a little better.   Over the next day or 2 you begin to wonder if your guests enjoyed themselves and had a good time in your home.  You check your mailbox and to your surprise you have received a nice thank you card from 1 of the guests saying they had a great time and were really appreciative of your invite.  You didn’t hear anything from the other 2 so you are now really wondering if they had a good time or if you should have even invited them in the first place.

It is the same way with the job interview.  The employer posts a job and 100+ people submit their resume.  The employer narrows it down to the top 3 candidates to bring to his office (his “home”).  During the interview he spends time going into detail about the company and job opening and perhaps gives candidates a tour of the facilities.  Afterwards, he is trying to decide who would be the best fit for his already established team.  He comes in the next morning and finds an e-mail from you thanking him for taking the time to interview you. You also attach other information to help him understand your background and experience a little better.  He heard nothing from the other 2 candidates.  Who do you think will stand out in his mind when he goes to make the hiring decision? Exactly! That’s why it is so important…..plus it’s just  nice to be nice.  Employers say that they appreciate thank you letters and it can make the difference as to whether they hire a candidate or not.  If there are 2 candidates that are neck and neck and the hiring manager needs to make a decision between the 2, he is more likely to lean towards the one that sent a thank you.

The second area…..when and how to follow up.  You should definitely follow up with an employer right away.  You want to do it while they still remember you and you have an opportunity to make a final impression on them.   Now, whether you e-mail or use snail mail or give a thank card to the receptionist on your way out the door, I don’t think it really matters.   All of these are acceptable methods and serve the same purpose.  The ultimate objective is to thank them BEFORE they make their hiring decision.  Obviously, giving a thank you card to the receptionist or sending an e-mail later that evening when you get home guarantees an immediate effect.  But having them receive a card in the mail from you is also a nice touch because we all like to receive something in the mail.  If you do decide to go with a thank you card, make sure it is professional and standard (nothing pink with flowers and polka dots).  It should be bare on the inside or have minimal words.  (Tip:  If you don’t have good penmanship, get someone else to write inside the card for you!)

Here is an example of a thank you sent as an e-mail:

Dear Mr./Ms. (last name):

It was a pleasure meeting you today.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit (company name) and interview for the _________________ position.  I was especially interested to learn that your company (mention something specific discussed in the interview).

I have included my LinkedIn profile/portfolio/website/blog* so you can get a more in-depth look at my skills and background.  I am excited about the possibility of becoming a member of your team.  If you need any further information, you may contact me at (214) 555-5555.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

* Pick just one to include in the thank you letter.