After getting promoted a couple of times I noticed what managers are looking for when deciding who to promote. It’s usually not just working hard, it usually about how impact-ful your work is.
Perform Above Your Current Level Consistently
As I have stated before, it is not always about working hard. As a software engineer and part of my job is to fix bugs in our code. I realized over time that it didn’t matter how late I stayed or how many bugs I fixed because at the end of the day I needed to ask myself, did my work produce measurable impact and was there a significant improvement from before?
When I started realizing it was about impact, and not about simply putting in the hours, I started requesting work that more challenging and would normally be assigned to more senior engineers. I made sure to go above and beyond what was expected of me until I was promoted to a level that matched my performance.
Become the Expert
Just think of the people that are more senior than you are. More often than not, they are the go-to-person for questions because they usually have all the answers. They are the person that the manager turns to guidance and can be trusted with the most challenging problems. They are the expert and you should try to learn from them as much as possible.
This may come with time but it is important to always keep this in mind and be consistently learning and growing your skill-set.
Earn Your Manager’s Trust
Assess yourself honestly, can you be trusted with work that would be normally assigned to a person more senior than yourself? If the answer is yes, and your manager agrees, you may be are well on your way to getting that promotion.
Be patient though, just because you performed great one year does not mean you are guaranteed that promotion. Nothing is for certain but a good manager will be able to recognize potential. You should be the person that everyone is asking, “Why hasn’t he or she been promoted yet?”
Tell Your Career Goals to Your Manager
Finally, you must have an honest conversation about your career goals with your manager. A good manager will support you in your career goals. You should be able to say, “what would I have to do to get a promotion?” And then work with your manager to figure out a plan to get there.
Be mindful that no promotion is a guarantee. Even if you are doing everything right, it still does not entitle you to that promotion so it is best to manage your expectations early on. It is more important to focus on personal growth than simply working hard to get that promotion.