Posted November 20, 2013 by

How to Increase Your Promotion Potential: 10 Tips

Two men shaking hands on a promotion

Two men shaking hands about a promotion. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You work hard at your job. You show up on time every day. You do what’s expected of you. So why aren’t you being promoted?

Unfortunately, you can’t expect a promotion simply by doing your job well. Moving up the corporate ladder usually requires a concerted effort to make yourself stand out. As human resources executive V. Jean Maye puts it, “Employers want to see passion, leadership, a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude and a solution-oriented team player poised for promotion.”

Don’t worry: This doesn’t mean you have to commit yourself to working 80 hours a week. There are a number of other ways you can make yourself stand out as a good candidate for a promotion and ensure you’re on the path of the upwardly mobile.

1. Possess an attractive attitude about your workplace

Whining and complaining about your job, company or coworkers is a surefire way to get yourself noticed — but not in the way you want. Managers don’t want employees with bad attitudes, period, and they certainly don’t want to promote them.

Instead, make sure that you are presenting a positive attitude about your workplace. If you are the one employee who still has a smile on his or her face during stressful times, you are more likely to come to mind when your boss is reviewing candidates for promotion.

2. Go to office parties

If you’re the sort who doesn’t like to socialize with your coworkers, that won’t necessarily cost you a promotion. But be sure to attend the office party. Why? Social functions of that nature are places where a lot of information is shared, such as who is planning on leaving a position. Furthermore, office parties often offer opportunities for getting to know higher-ups who may have some influence over a future promotion.

3. Avoid gossip and office politics

Gossiping about coworkers simply isn’t professional, and neither is getting caught up in office politics. If you hold yourself to a higher standard and avoid both, you are more likely to build a reputation for yourself as a professional employee with good judgment.

4. Bring a solution for every problem

Of course you need to communicate problems occasionally to your supervisor, whether it’s about malfunctioning office equipment or a project timeline that just isn’t reasonable. But you will set yourself apart if you always propose a solution to the problems you present. Not only will you make your boss’s job easier, you will also demonstrate that you are an innovative thinker with managerial qualities.

5. Know where you want to go

You want to move up the ladder. But to where, exactly? Have a position in mind. Look at the responsibilities of the person in that position. Consider their skills and education. If the position is in a different department, then you may want to consider a lateral move, which could put you in a better position to move into the job you ultimately want.

6. Increase your responsibilities

You may be great at your job and do it reliably every day. But you will really stand out if you volunteer to take on more responsibility when the opportunity arises. Be on the lookout for opportunities to knock on your boss’s door and ask, “How can I help?”

7. Find a mentor

Good mentors are guides, sounding boards and advocates. They’ve been in your shoes. They’ve moved up, close to where you want to be. They have made mistakes and can share their wisdom.

Find a mentor to whom you can talk about your situation and goals. Ask for advice; there’s nothing as valuable as getting an insider’s perspective.

8. Build your skills

If your supervisor perceives you as having the perfect skill set for your job, that’s a good thing. But you also want to have skills that are desirable for higher-level jobs. You can increase your value to the company — and your promotion potential — by keeping your skills fresh. This could take the form of teaching yourself new accounting software or taking online classes, whether in human resources management or business administration.

9. Earn trust

If you’re the employee who never meets deadlines or follows through on tasks, you’ll also be the last one on the list when it’s promotion time. Earn the trust of your colleagues and supervisors by delivering what you promise. Be dependable, and establish yourself as the one everyone can count on to hold up your end.

10. Take risks

Being a wallflower in the workplace just doesn’t cut it. If you have an idea, speak up, even if your idea might get shot down. Be courageous — whether in proposing new ideas or trying new tactics — and you will find yourself both growing in your job and signaling to your supervisor that you are ready for new challenges.

By Margaret Brewster

About the Author:

Margaret Brewster is a freelance writer and non-profit consultant. She contributes to several websites, including

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