In Part 1 of this series, I talked about some important tips to help you stand out during the interview process. So, now that you've got the job, it’s time to relax, right? Think again! On the contrary, it’s now time to rev it up if you want to kick your career in high gear. Part Two is all about what you need to do during your first year on the job to prove you’re the one ripe for the promotion.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen far too many young professionals sit back with a lackluster attitude toward doing the work and taking on projects after they’ve gotten the job. This approach will not yield your desired outcome. You need to have your eye on that promotion, which means taking the right action to ensure you’re in line for it when it comes around.
STEP #1: OWN YOUR WORK
Ok, so one of the tag lines for a company was THE WORK, THE WORK, THE WORK – now 20 years later, I get it. It is all about the work: yours, theirs and ours. So it is likely, you’ll be handed assignments in your first months on the job until you get your feet wet and understand how the company operates and how work is accomplished. It’s extremely important to listen to directions from your supervisor and ask questions for clarity. This allows you to not only do the project, but also conquer it by thinking of all potential scenarios, because you asked the right questions.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re asked to write a post for the company blog. Chances are that blog post is going to have more uses than just placing on the company’s website. This could be a component of the content marketing engine for the brand; so what does that mean for you? For starters, it means social media will need to support it and someone will need to craft those posts to drive traffic to the original content. Here is your opportunity! You can prove you are a strategic thinker by simply asking questions like, “What is the goal of this assignment?” or “How will it be used?” You'll derive answers to help you think through how to go above and beyond what your boss is asking you to do. Do this consistently! Don’t do it just because you are the "new hire," do it because you want the blog post to be meaningful for the company. This proves you are not there just for the "job" and you are thinking long term.
STEP #2: MINDSET IS EVERYTHING
You’ve heard this before: no one wants to work with Negative Nelly, so simply put, don’t be one! Trust me, you are going to work hard, long hours during the first few years of your career. And I wish I could say it ends even at the top, but it doesn’t – in some cases it gets worse – but we love what we do, right?. So get the phrases, “I’m overwhelmed,” “He’s always leaving early, why do I have to stay late?” out of your mind and vocabulary! It’s far too easy to slip into a negative mindset, especially if your team is unsupportive and emotionally draining, so don’t fall victim. Excuse yourself from these types of conversations and stay as positive as possible.
If your days seem to drag on, look at where you are driving impact on a project, the client or bottom-line. You are all working towards a goal, so establish your role in the win! And trust me, you don’t have to like everyone you work with, but you do have to get along with them. Keep in mind that your promotion may not just be the result of positive comments from your boss. It may likely include reviews from your peers as well. Keep the peace; it pays off long term,
STEP #3: CHAMPION OTHERS
One of the greatest skills a manager can possess is to mentor others and champion great work. If you know someone on your team deserves credit for a job well done, be an advocate for him or her. Promoting your colleagues’ good work may win you their support and even their willingness to help you achieve your goals in return. These intangible soft skills don’t go unnoticed by higher ups when it comes promotion time. Acknowledging a job well done and supporting others efforts shows you have managerial skills and may help land you that
So let’s simply say something was a team effort; regardless of how many hours were put in by each person, if the overall goal was met, it was a team project. Unless someone truly deserves to be thrown under the bus for not pulling his or her weight, don’t do it. It isn’t worth it. Take the high road and champion those that did, instead of breaking down those that didn't. Trust me, karma comes around.
STEP #4: SHARE YOUR CAREER GOALS
It’s a common interview question to ask about your short-term and long-term career goals. Then you get the job and “mum” is the word. That is, unless you take the initiative to keep your boss informed about what you have your eyes set on. Just because you shared your thoughts about your future at the company in the interview doesn’t mean your boss will remember or know if you have changed your mind somewhere along the way. He or she isn’t a mind reader so schedule regular check-in meetings with your boss and keep him or her up-to-date about the role you
Truly, it is as simple as taking your boss to lunch and reminding them why you took the job and where you can deliver impact. It doesn’t have to be complicated, so don’t overthink it. It was a much harder answer in the interview than it is now in execution. Stick with why you came to work for the company and why you continue to be relevant.
STEP #5: CHAMPION YOURSELF
While one of the previous tips was to be your colleagues’ champion when it comes to promoting their collaboration with you on projects, it’s your job to champion your own achievements and share them with your boss. You shouldn’t expect your boss to keep a log of your stellar performance (although they should). Take a look around at how many people they are managing/mentoring. He or she will probably remember the big stuff, but not the details. This is your job! If you want that promotion, track all the projects you’ve worked on and how you’ve contributed to their success. Then you’ll have tangible evidence to show you’re the perfect person for the promotion. Your direct supervisor may not be the one who grants the promotion either and may have to persuade others, so arm them with ammo to fight for you; if you don’t, who will?
And remember, promotions take time. The average promotion typically takes one year to 18 months, so track your progress. Taking these steps can help ensure that you don’t get overlooked for the promotion when your time comes around. Go above and beyond, have a positive mindset, and track your performance.
Katharine Mobley is a corporate executive with over 18 years experience in her field, she has witnessed drastic changes in marketing and advertising specifically with the evolution of the #CEO and the role of social media. She is an Executive Council Member of the Ellevate Network.