5 steps to securing a promotion

5 Steps to securing a promotion

“Reaching a promotion and progressing through the ranks is a marathon, not a sprint”.

By MeTheMillennial

I spent 18 months working towards a promotion, in my case moving from Senior Consultant level to Manager in a Consulting company. 

Was it worth it? That’s another question for another day. 

While every company is unique and has its own process for moving through the ranks, these 5 steps are based on my experience and advice I received from others. 

Company culture and internal politics vary from company to company but a lot of these steps can, and should be applied to any situation. 

Achieving financial freedom is difficult, it requires discipline and time – navigating your career journey through promotions will accelerate you getting there. It has massively helped me get part way through the journey, currently on track to hit $300k by 30 with a target of $1.5 million by age 35.

“Reaching a promotion and progressing through the ranks is a marathon, not a sprint” 

1) First step – Communicate it, early! 

This first thing I realized is, you have to communicate your intentions early.

The first time I began socializing that I wanted to get promoted, I thought it was simply a case of ‘putting your hand up’ around two months before year-end, when promotion decisions are made.

I assumed that was sufficient time.

How wrong was I?

In actual fact, it was a whole process that you need to be thinking about and beginning to communicate at least a year in advance.

My advice is even if you’re met with skeptics, it’s important to make sure your intentions are known well in advance of the decision date. 

2) Do your research 

It can take a long time to reach that lucrative promotion or progression through the ranks, there are certain things you have to do and certain experiences you have to have to be considered for that role.

It’s difficult to tell exactly what leadership expects to see from someone to merit a promotion.

The best way I think you can figure this out is by speaking to people on your team who have been promoted and understand how they did it. Taking time to gain as many perspectives as you can really helps.

Your peers and the individuals you work with will really be able to give the best advice.

The only thing I would caution on this, is take opinions with a pinch of salt. You can very easily become overwhelmed if you try to do everything to meet a ‘made up’ criteria.

There is no set rulebook, every employee is unique.

For example, I was given the advice that I had to take on all this extra work to reach a promotion, which given the project I was working on at the time would have resulted in me having to work 12+ hour days.

My rule of thumb which has served me well thus far, is only take on extra work if you can deliver it to 100% of your ability.

If I am consistently working 12+ hour days, I will inevitably become tired and burnt out and have too much on my plate to deliver everything to 100% of my ability.

In summary, do your research, gather perspectives to guide you but don’t work yourself into the ground trying to satisfy each opinion. 

3) Speak to your boss, and bring them along with you

The next step in the process is having the all-important conversations with your boss.

Take time to understand what their expectations are for a promotion candidate and someone in the role you want to be promoted to.

Get feedback to understand how you can bridge the gap between how you’re currently operating and the next level, once you find tactical things to address you can manage this throughout the year.

This will also help you to really showcase what you’re doing and begin sharing your intentions with leadership so when those decision points arrive and your name comes up they will connect the dots.

In my experience, I made sure to have multiple touch-points with my boss during the process which consistently reminds them of my desire for promotion and it helps you to understand early if there are any gaps or areas you need to focus on.

That way, you can keep your finger on the pulse in terms of staying on track and meeting the needs of a successful promotion candidate as leadership are the ultimate decision makers. 

4) It takes time!

This step is important to remember, it’s not a single moment that suddenly gets you promoted through the ranks, it’s a period of consistently operating at and pushing yourself to perform at the next level.

Thinking of it like this should help you to stress less during the process.

Mistakes happen and always will, we are human.

It’s how you deal with mistakes and how you overcome them, really shows your ability to lead people and make a valuable contribution to the team. Core qualities of a promotion candidate.

There is an advantage to the process taking time, when it does come around you will glide through the promotion and will be well equipped for your new role.

I recognize this might not exactly be what you want to hear, I certainly was frustrated when I realized how long the promotion process took.

Hang in there. 

5) Trust your advisors to steer you 

Finally, trust the people in your network to advise you.

I really leaned in to my direct managers and boss to figure out what level I was working at and what I needed to add to my skillset to reach a promotion.

It can be difficult to hear negative feedback or potential gaps in what you thought was a pretty solid case, but trust me its better to hear these things early and then to tackle them head on.

In my case, I was told that I wasn’t quite there yet for various reasons the first time I tried, I was very frustrated at the time.

But looking back now, I realize that my advisors were right, I wasn’t ready and I am all the more confident now that I have the extra experience under my belt.

You might think you’re ready but that extra bit of time to really develop and grow your skills helps. It means it becomes a ‘slam dunk’ promotion case and you move to the next level with ease and confidence versus excelling too quickly and struggling. 

Good luck on your journey, finally reaching that promotion after all the hard work is very rewarding.

It means your company, team and boss believe in you and want to invest in you and your career.

Enjoy the successes as they come your way, making sure to celebrate these milestones is so important. Don’t just think about your next move. 

As always, I hope you find some of these areas helpful in your own journey to whatever your goal is. Make sure to follow along on my journey on how this thing called life works out, I keep my net worth updated here.

Leave a comment or contact me if you would like to get in touch and update me on your progress towards your goals.

Catch you soon,


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