This post originally appeared on The Fiscal Times.
So you want a promotion – but don’t have a clue how to make it happen.
Career experts say that even though you can’t flip the advancement switch yourself – no matter how much you may deserve it – you can take certain actions to improve your chances of moving up the corporate ladder.
First, understand that your managers and possibly your human resources team hold the key to your advancement, depending on your organization’s structure. Promotions are usually subject to your team’s needs and workload, your boss’s short-term and long-term goals, and your company’s overall strategic plan.
While not all promotions include pay raises, a vertical move up the ladder with increasing responsibilities and visibility can certainly help your stature, both with colleagues at your workplace and within your industry – helping you ultimately achieve your career goals.
In his new book, "The Critical First Years of Your Professional Life," Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global PR firm, says there are specific actions and attitudes employees can embrace to make a promotion more likely in the months and years ahead (and he’s not just talking about being a good team player):
Create friendly relationships with people in other departments. Intra-department bull sessions or quick chats here and there may hardly be on your mind when you’re 100 percent task-focused – and when you barely know other people in your company except to say “good morning” on your way in the door. But establishing connections with employees in key groups within your company can only help. “Those connections may help you get a promotion and will certainly be useful to you after you are promoted,” advises Dilenschneider.
Dress like those in the level above you. Think other people at work don’t pay attention to your grooming, your choice of clothing, your physical presentation every day? Guess again. People form opinions in a nanosecond based on your appearance. “Don’t dress well only when you have an official meeting with the boss,” he says. “People see you every day. It isn’t simply your boss who decides whether you get promoted.” Usually others are involved in some way or have some input on the matter.
Have a sense of humor. This isn’t something that’s taught in college or grad school – but it comes in handy. “It shows you can detach yourself emotionally from a situation and look at things objectively,” says Dilenschneider. There is a caveat, though: Keep your humor low key. “Belly laughs are seldom appropriate at work, unless the boss leads the merriment.”
Be eager to learn more. Get an advanced degree if it’s clear that would help you in your field. Take a course. Get a new certification. Attend an industry conference. In whatever way you can, add to your expertise and knowledge on an ongoing basis. For example, “simply being in an MBA program gives you status and makes people perceive you as a go-getter.”
Reevaluate your image from time to time. While every workplace has different standards, take a step back now and then to consider how various aspects of your behavior may strike others. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to help you with an assessment. Look anew at your workspace; is it clean and organized – or a total pigpen? What hours do you keep – are you a devoted team player, especially at crunch time, or are you prone to cut corners? Does your attitude and temperament match those that are prized at your organization? All of this “can make all the difference in your future success.”