How to get a promotion

Seeking a promotion at work? Here are a few things to think about before applying.

A man climbing up a ladder If you would like a more challenging job and want to enhance your career, you’re likely looking for an opportunity to gain a promotion. In order to build yourself a case it’s important to consider your current position and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What experience do I have?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What skills and qualities do I have?
  • Where am I in my career?
  • What brought me here?

Next think about where you want to be and how you intend on getting there. Your answers will help you put your aspirations in to context and allow you to be realistic in terms of achieving your goals. When you know where you want to be, research your options thoroughly and devise a development action plan.

Building a case for promotion and raising your profile

In order to help you chances of promotion there are a number of things you can do to raise your profile. These include:

  • Generating ideas to improve things;
  • getting involved with projects;
  • using your initiative;
  • doing work from the next level up;
  • undertaking additional training;
  • networking within your organisation as well as further afield.

Applying for an international promotion

Applying for an internal promotion can be a nerve-wracking experience. Not only do you have to undergo the intensive selection process with colleagues or external candidates, but as an existing employee, your employers already have experience of your strengths and weaknesses.

This does not need to be perceived as a negative position to be in. Indeed, you may have the edge over external candidates because you work in the organisation so you should have a better understanding of the internal structures and values, as well as the requirements of the new role. Keep this in mind.

To get the ball rolling, have a discussion with your line manager or human resources department about the options open to you and how they can help. You may not get a promotion straight away but by being proactive it shows that you are interested in promotion and may establish a course for further discussions.

A good time to discuss promotion opportunities is also during your annual review. If that’s not an option then request a formal meeting with your manager to ask about opportunities and to ask what they think you need to do in order to qualify for a promotion.

Preparing for an internal interview

You’ve got yourself an interview, now there are a number of things you can do to prepare. If you feel confident that you can do the job well and you have appropriate experience then you are already half way there. The second step is to ensure that you have prepared thoroughly before you attend your interview.

Although it is an internal interview you must treat it as any other job interview because your assessors will need to compare your experience, skill set and attitude with other candidates. So while you may believe that you are the best for the job, do not assume that your employers will, just because you work for them.

Try to find out as much as you can about the job including:

  • The extent of the duties and relationships;
  • the history, expectations and the reasons why this role has become vacant - did the previous job holder leave the company or were they promoted or is it a newly created role and if so why has it been created?

This is where your knowledge of the organisation will be beneficial, as you can talk to others in the relevant department to find out everything you possibly can about the job.

It is also time to patch up any weak areas in your knowledge about the company and its structure and services. Depending on your length of service you may need to ask colleagues about unfamiliar areas of the business or company history so that you maximise the competitive edge you have over other candidates and feel confident going in to your interview.

Try to anticipate the sorts of questions you are likely to be asked by your interviewers and prepare answers carefully. Remember your earlier self-assessment as it is essential that you provide information about the impact you have had on the business, and your commitment to achieving longer term aims, since you need to demonstrate how your career has developed within the organisation

During the interview

Arrive in good time, take time to answer questions and give concise answers. Try to keep relaxed and think positively, end on an optimistic note and deal with the closing moments well. It can be difficult to remember all of these points in an internal interview, especially if you know the interviewer, but try not to be too familiar or tense. Do not assume that the interviewers are aware of the specifics of your role and ensure you highlight your personal strengths clearly. 

If you are selected for promotion, you will have new challenges and possibly a different team to work with so make sure you ask relevant questions about the position, for example:

  • What would your new responsibilities be?
  • What are the likely challenges?
  • How will you be supported?
  • What development opportunities exist?

This is your chance to find out as much as you can from the interviewers and their expectations of the role. It is far better to discover the facts of the job before you are appointed and to know exactly what will be required of you.