How to get promoted

Getting a promotion in a crappy economic climate is hard, but still possible. Here’s how to hop up that career ladder and bag a pay rise.

hand shake

"I won't let go until you give me a promotion."

In the land of pay freezes and a stagnant job market, career climbing isn’t easy. We spoke to the Recruitment Queen, Charlie Ryan, to find out what you need to do to get noticed.

Be seen as a grafter – for the right reasons

Unfortunately, you’re not going to be handed a fancy new job title and pay rise to match for simply doing your job. Everyone else is trying to show they have that ‘little extra something’ and you’ll need to prove that too. However, there’s a difference between staying long hours and actually being a productive member of staff.

“People out there are willing to graft, so you have to graft too,” says Charlie. “The people who get promoted are always those at work for longer. But you have to actually be productive during those extra hours – not just hanging around and chatting so you look like you’re working.”

Make yourself indispensible to your boss

What could you do to make your boss’s job easier? Now do it. Just quietly start taking on those responsibilities until they become part of your day-to-day life. How to start? Simply ask, “Is there anything you want me to do to help?” It could be something small, like proofreading a report or helping out on a deadline, but then make these new tasks part of your role -and not just a one-off.

“Make yourself so helpful that when you take a day off, your boss instantly notices,” says Charlie. “Your boss wants support because they’re looking to move up the chain, too.”

Join in on the not-work action

Round robin emails no doubt pop up on your computer screen daily about the company football team, book clubs, or Christmas party organisation committees. If you want to get promoted, we suggest volunteering for some of these extra-curricular activities. Your involvement with the wider company won’t go unnoticed, plus you may get to know senior staff members who could put in a good word for you.

Don’t look for constant praise

“The problem is, people want to be constantly rewarded for their mediocrity,” says Charlie. “I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.”

You’re unlikely to get promoted if you just fulfil your job description. And why seek praise for merely fulfilling it? That’s what you’re getting paid to do, after all! Charlie’s advice is to keep grafting, going above and beyond, without whinging.

“It’s all very subtle,” she said. “Do things, get them done – not for ‘thank yous’ but for the good of the company. Promotion will happen then.”

Let your boss know you’re ambitious

Bosses aren’t mindreaders. And they may be so busy they actually believe you’re grafting just out of the kindness of your heart. Book in some time with them to talk through your future aspirations. Ask them what you can do to increase your chances of promotion – and take on board any constructive criticism they give you. Then, together, you may be able to start collecting evidence about why you deserve a promotion.

Acknowledge the recession may affect things

If you’re trying your darndest and it’s just not happening, try not to let it get you down. It may be that your company simply doesn’t have the money to promote you. Or that people above you are holding on tight to their jobs, so opportunities aren’t being freed up. Whatever it is, try not to get disheartened. These are tough times. And this really is a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s the recession’.

Next Steps


work tips

By Holly Thompson

Updated on 29-Sep-2015