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13 Ways to Show Your Boss You're Ready for the Big Promotion

Seat Time: 6 min
Image by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger

If you’ve been at the same job for some time, it’s all too easy to just assume that a promotion will come along every year, like a bonus for time served. But you have to do more than log hours to make it to the next level. More responsibility means actively showing (and sometimes telling) your boss that you’re ready to take on a new role.

To show you just how it’s done, 13 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council weighed in with tips on getting promoted, based on their own employees they’ve seen rise through the ranks.

1. Make Your Boss Obsolete

It’s ironic, but the best way to get promoted is to make your boss’ job easier. And the best way to do that is to make his or her job obsolete. You’re not really putting your manager out of a job—you’re allowing him or her to trust your work. In turn, he or she can focus on new areas that the higher-ups have needed to address for some time. Strong work goes up the chain, improves the company, and gets you noticed.

Ankur Gopal, Interapt

2. Summarize Work Visually

When talking about your work, give us something to look at. When you answer the question, ‘Why are people buying?’ show a chart of the top responses as well as how many people gave each response. It makes everyone a believer when we can see a quick visual snapshot that backs up what you’re saying.

Adam Grant, Campus Commandos

3. Own Projects From Start to Finish

Organizations place a premium on individuals who follow through on tasks. If you can prove that you can consistently own projects from start to finish, you will not only get promoted, but you’ll also make yourself indispensable.

Kyle Wong, Pixlee

4. Keep a Positive Attitude

The people who typically get promoted keep their cool under stress. They also act as a role model to everyone around them. They meet deadlines and ask relevant, intelligent questions that help clients be happier with our services. When an issue arises, they want to solve it and work to avoid future problems by learning from their mistakes.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

5. Raise Other Team Members’ Performance

I look for people who are completing their assignments and asking what that next task is going to be. They help their colleagues instead of stepping on them in their climb up the ladder. I love to promote people on my team who raise the performance of everybody around them.

Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

6. Make Your Boss Aware You Want the Promotion

It seems quite simple, but expressing your desire for a particular promotion is very helpful. Sometimes management may not know you want it, or has not thought of you as a candidate, especially if it’s outside of your current department. Often management will tell you what you need to do to get the position if they know you want it. Be humble, inquisitive, passionate, and hungry.

Joshua Waldron, Silencerco, LLC

7. Show Pride in Your Work

Competence, diligence, intelligence, loyalty—these all matter, but what matters most is the inherent will to do the best work possible. The work is what matters, and employees who take it personally, who own their work as a reflection of their values and take pride in doing good work, are the employees I trust with positions of responsibility.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

8. Avoid Office Politics and Gossip

The qualities we considered most were those that demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness—which we measured by looking at who chose not to participate in office politics and gossip. While it’s important to understand the balance of office politics, individuals who are able to rise above the temptations stand out most as those I think would be the fairest to others in management roles.

Souny West, CHiC Capital

9. Display Commitment

When people are really committed, you can tell by the quality of their work, the effort they put in, and the relationships they develop. When employees show commitment, we notice and try to reward them with deserved promotions.

Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

10. Demonstrate That You Can Solve Client Problems

To get promoted, you have to show that you can take the initiative and help our clients solve their problems. Since I run a marketing company, I am looking for people who can implement creative and effective campaigns that make both us and our clients shine. This also means being able to work independently, without having to be told what to do every step of the way.

Shawn Porat, Fortune Cookie Advertising

11. Be Exceptional

I want to promote from within, but it’s important that clients and co-workers see the justification. I need team members to make a significant impact on their clients—who really wow them. If they don’t have a client-facing position, they should be the go-to person for their colleagues.

Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

12. Make Money

If someone is making money, they’ll be promoted. Making money is the ultimate internal currency. All other internal performance metrics can be translated into the money-making metric. And yes, saving money is making money, too. Anyone who understands enough of the business ROI levers to structure and ask for more resources or a different title will probably get it and keep moving up each time the argument is made.

Ross Resnick, Roaming Hunger

13. Attract and Manage Great Talent

At a fast-growing company, hiring quality people quickly is one of the most important goals. That’s why I place great value on people who can bring in additional talent through their existing networks, convince that talent to join our company, and cultivate those individuals into productive team members. Showing that you can build and manage a profitable team is a clear path to promotion.

Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

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