So, you’re itching for a promotion. You’re likely a career-minded professional who knows getting promoted is an important career-advancing milestone that signifies growth and helps you expand your personal brand. But you may not know if it’s realistic for you right now.
This article will help you figure out if you should go for it and what you need to do to prepare yourself to get to the next rung.
Start by asking yourself these three important questions:
- WHY AM I SEEKING A PROMOTION?
- WHY IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME?
- WHY AM I THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Let’s start with the motivations that are at the root of the first question: Why am I seeking a promotion?
There are many reasons to go after that next role:
- The status of a new title.
- More money for saving, spending or sharing.
- Additional responsibility or influence.
- Opportunities to learn, grow or overcome monotony.
- The chance to testing your leadership muscle, or expand it with a bigger team.
In my experience in working with ambitious professionals, it’s usually a combination of these reasons that drive the desire to get promoted. Still, getting clear about what exactly is motivating you will help you successfully prepare for a promotion.
Which is your incentive or reason for going for that next role?
Once you’re clear on the first “why,” then you’ll be ready to ask yourself the second question: Why is now the right time?
- Have I learned all I can in my current role? If you’re feeling bored and unchallenged, now might be the time.
- Will a new role bring me joy? If your current role is not fulfilling, now might be the time to consider going after something that sounds closer to your dream job.
- Am I ready to increase my workload and challenge myself significantly? Preparing for a promotion takes time, and once you get that new job, you’ll be working twice as hard to get up-to-speed and have an impact.
- Do I have the personal stability, energy and mindset to pursue this role and nail it once I get it? Experts suggest you shouldn’t make multiple life changes at the same time. If you just had a kid, are in the process of moving, are caring for an elderly parent or are coping with other energy-draining events, this may not be the right time to pursue a major change at work.
If you’ve reflected on each of those questions and are absolutely certain that there’s no better time than the present, you are ready for the third question. It’s a personal branding question: Why am I the ideal candidate?
This final question boils down to preparing your pitch, or explaining how you are accomplished, qualified and distinctive.
There are often numerous qualified candidates for any given open position. Some might be your peers, some might come from other parts of your company and some might be external candidates. To argue with absolute clarity that you are the ideal candidate, you must demonstrate that you are:
Show the hiring manager that you’ve mastered your current position. That means you first need to convince them that you’ve learned all you can where you are and are eager for your next challenge. You must deliver visible evidence that you’re outperforming your peers and that you could deliver greater value if you had more responsibility.
Naturally, you must tick the boxes next to all of the minimum eligibility requirements for the role you seek. But you must also demonstrate that you are uber qualified in all of the listed requirements. For each requirement, craft a story that highlights your credentials. When crafting your stories, use the C-A-R formula. “C” stands for challenge—describe the challenging context that allowed you to prove your skill. “A” stands for action—detail the actions you took to confront the challenge. “R” is for result—record the result or positive outcome that your actions yielded. Whenever possible, quantify the result. For example, you saved the department $50,000 in media fees, or recruited five superstars to support the initiative.
Being qualified is great; it will get you into the game, but it’s not enough to ensure victory. To stand out and show why you are the ideal candidate, identify your secret sauce—what you will bring to the role that others cannot. How will you use your personal brand to make your mark on the new role? The best way to determine your brand differentiation is to first consider others who would want to pursue this same role. Based on what you know or can glean about them, list the things you have in common. You might include things like the similar degree, number of years in the industry or level of experience. Then, think about your uniqueness. List all the things that make you stand out—and don’t limit yourself to just those characteristics that are tied to the job. You might list things like “I speak three languages,” “I have traveled the globe,” “I am naturally curious” or “I have a huge fan base that follows my thought-leadership.” These are the differentiating factors that can make you interesting and compelling to the decision makers. Highlight these distinctive assets when you put your pitch together.
Don’t pursue a promotion before taking the time to honestly explore the three “whys”—why a promotion, why now and why you. If you’re applying for the right reasons, at the right time, with the right pitch, the result of your effort will be the ultimate “Y,” as in “Yes! I’ve been promoted!”
William Arruda is the cofounder of CareerBlast and co-creator of The Insider’s Guide to Getting Noticed and Promoted .