You might feel that no-one works harder than you in your firm. But somehow it's always others that get recognised and promoted. Time to learn the all-critical art of selling yourself. Here are our top tips:  

Be visible


This is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do in getting a promotion. Doing your job well is expected, doing your job exceptionally well will help, but actually demonstrating your achievements is how you will get ahead.

We’re not saying you need to be reminding your boss every day about how wonderful you are, and let’s face it, it would be pretty tedious for anyone on the receiving end. But do flag up your accomplishments regularly. Think of yourself as your own agent, getting your talents in front of the powers-that-be.

Keep an on-going record of what you’ve achieved and any praise received – create a log for performance review time. But don’t save it for the annual meeting – send an email to your boss on a project that went well – it may seem self-serving (and your motivations may well be) but any successes are actually helping the organisation. If this feels awkward at first, look for more natural ways to self-promote – if you’ve had a successful outcome with a challenging project, offer to write a guide or give a presentation to colleagues to help them with similar work.

Get your name known. Talk to people in other areas of the organisation. Find out what their challenges are and look for cross-collaboration opportunities. And do socialise – it will help you to stay top-of-mind.

Think strategically


Look at what is happening elsewhere in the industry. How can you do it better? How can you innovate? Look for gaps in the market. Take the initiative and put forward your ideas. If that might tread on toes, talk to those that might be involved already in such projects and offer to help. But don’t neglect the very duties you are supposed to be doing as you whirl off in a completely different direction in your excitement.

Stand up to the boss


We’re not saying be bolshie, argumentative, or aggressive – but if you don’t agree with something then offer your opinion, so long as you can back it up with a solid case as to why you disagree. Those who get to the top are rarely yes-men or women.

The same goes for meetings and brainstorming sessions – don’t be afraid to speak your mind (not rant) about why you think something will or won’t work. And give praise to colleagues for their good ideas (the Machiavellian among you may be thinking that praising others in front of the boss will do you a disservice but it will actually make you look like someone with good people skills and that you are secure enough in your own abilities to let others shine too).

Ask for help - appropriately


Know when to escalate an issue and when to hold your tongue. Your boss doesn’t want to hear about trivial problems. That said, don’t be afraid of telling your boss about an issue that could blow up – just make sure you offer some sort of plan for how you can deal with it. Don’t bury your head in the sand if there is a problem. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but show you have given some thought as to the solution.

Build up your skills before you need them


Look at whether you have the skills to succeed in that top job – if you doubt yourself, others will too. Build up your experience and training so you are well prepared for when you go for the next rung up. 

And be honest with yourself. Will you enjoy the work on offer when you get there? Don’t just go for a promotion because you think that’s what you ought to do. There are many other paths that you can take in your career that will help you to grow – they may not necessarily lead to the top but to a different and equally fulfilling destination.



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