Tips for Getting a Promotion at Work

Every day you work your hardest, give it your all, and wait for the good times to roll, but year after year you’re overlooked for a promotion, your wage remains stagnant, and you’re forced to watch as the cost of living increases and your paycheck remains the same.

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What can you do? Well, if the promotion isn’t coming to you, it’s time to go out there and get it.

Become the Manager Your Company Needs

If you work underneath a manager, the trick to winning favor from your employers is to prove that you’re a hard worker and would be better suited for the role. It’s a cut-throat world out there, and you’re just doing what’s necessary.

By being the employee your manager desperately needs, you’re making their life easier, but you’re also making their role somewhat redundant. Although you may not realize it, that sort of dedication has a way of going up the chain, into the ears of the ones who matter, the ones who make the decisions.

Eventually, they will realize that you’re more valuable to the company but you’re earning less than the one tasked with supervising you. If there is ever a vacancy for a high position within the company, you may get promoted ahead of them. 

Always Take Credit

Incompetent managers like to take credit for work that their employees did. You can’t let that happen, even if you like them. By all means, make friends and be nice, but don’t let anyone take credit for your work, because they may be promoted ahead of you. They gain, you lose, and all that hard work goes to waste.

Stay Cool

Passion is acceptable and encouraged, but not if it comes at the expense of anger. Don’t be the person who punches walls and bangs tables; don’t be the person who screams, cries, and calls foul whenever things don’t go their way. Play it cool, stay calm under pressure—that’s what your employers want to see.

Make Your Desire Clear

Your boss may have overlooked you for the promotion simply because they didn’t think you were interested. You may think that it’s obvious, but that isn’t always the case. Let them know directly and not only will you be making your wishes clear, but you’ll also be placing the burden of expectation on them.

If they have a good relationship with you or want to keep you in good spirits, they will be less inclined to turn you down the next time there’s an opening. That conversation will add an element of doubt and make it difficult for them to turn you down.

Put yourself in their situation. Imagine that you run a company and have an opening for a managerial position. There are 10 employees working under you, all with similar experience and work ethic. You know that you’re probably going to let 9 of them go, but only 1 of them has spoken with you directly and made their desires known. You know that person will expect the most from you and be disappointed the least.

So, who do you hire?

You’re playing on their guilt, which may seem a little unfair, but not if you’re qualified and not if you’re going to do a good job.

Show Them That You Love the Company

Companies want to believe that their employees will do everything they can to keep the business afloat. They want to believe that an employee will treat the business as if it was their own, feeling upset when it fails, anxious when it struggles, and delighted when it succeeds. In actual fact, very few employees care, and the bigger the business it is, the less they care. If it fails, they’ll just move on, it if struggles, their only concern is their paycheck.

You don’t have to change this attitude—you can’t force something like that. However, you should make them believe that you care about the company and will do everything you can to make it succeed. In their eyes, you need to be the person that lives and breathes the organization, the person who arrives before and leaves after everyone else.

Rise Above Gossip

It can help to listen to office gossip; it’s good to stay in tune with office politics. However, you should refrain from partaking in it and make your aversion clear. Companies want managers that are neutral and will not spend their days gossiping about their colleagues. 

When everyone is around the water cooler chattering about the latest office drama, you should be silently working, especially when your superiors are watching.

Prove Yourself to Clients

If you work directly with clients and the company relies on those clients to succeed, they are the ones you need to target. Be the friendly, lovable, hard-working employee that every client wants to work with. If they return because of you, your superiors will find out and the more this happens, the more likely they will be to promote you ahead of your colleagues.

What’s more, if you finally decide that enough is enough, that you have been overlooked too many times and it’s time to go, your employers should realize what they stand to lose and give you what you want.

Look Elsewhere

As discussed above, if you still don’t get the promotion you seek after working hard, winning favor from clients and doing more than your managers and supervisors have done, it’s time to move on. But before you do, you need to give them an ultimatum.

First, spend a few weeks looking for a new job, going to interviews, and compiling offers. Then, meet with your boss and let your frustrations be known. If you have another offer, tell them; if not, let them know that you plan on going it alone (see below) or finding work elsewhere.

In the end, companies only care about profit and loss. If they determine that losing you would cost them more than giving you a small promotion, they will do what it takes to keep you and you’ll have them right where you need them. 

Of course, this assumes that you’re a hard worker who has provided the company with many benefits. Because if not, they won’t think twice about letting you go.

Become a Freelancer

The United States has over 56 million freelancers, and that number is climbing every year. Many times, freelancers are former salaried employees who grew tired of stagnant wages and having others dictate their working day. They turn to sites Upwork, Guru, and Fiverr, as well as countless agencies, to complete highly skilled work at a high cost.

If you’re a skilled writer, artist, designer, coder or marketer, you can earn a lot of money freelancing for big brands and high-income individuals. It’s a relationship that benefits everyone. 

In time gone by, those highly skilled workers would have plied their trade for an agency, which itself may have worked with one or two other agencies. Anyone in need of work would then go through those companies and eventually procure the services of one or more skilled workers. Everyone along the line would get a share of the spoils, the client would pay a premium and the freelancer would get pittance.

The aforementioned freelancing sites have eliminated these middlemen, connected the clients and freelancers, and allowed the former to pay less while ensuring the latter gets more. It’s a win-win, and if you have the skills it’s something you need to look into.

With freelancing, you don’t need to worry about promotions. If you work harder or commit more hours, you’ll get more money; if you do a better job, you’ll find better clients; if you build a bigger reputation, you’ll be more in demand. You get the extra money when you deserve it and most of the time your basic wage is more than that of a salaried worker.

Of course, you lose some of the stability and security that comes with a regular paycheck, but the idea that salaried work is secure and freelancing work is not, is a complete fallacy. No one’s job is safe, and while a freelancer is more likely to be made redundant from day to day, they also work with more clients and have an easier time finding new jobs.

If you don’t have any of these skills, don’t worry. Fewer than half of all freelancers on these sites actually have the credentials and experience to do the work they’re pitching. Many are simply willing to devote their time to doing whatever anyone needs. 

If a big company needs someone to do some basic copy-and-pasting, they’re not going to hire a skilled writer for $100 an hour. Instead, they will turn to the many unskilled, equally hard-working individuals who are willing to fill their time with these mundane tasks in exchange for some extra cash.

Whether you’re taking the jobs that skilled workers don’t want and completing them to a lower standard or accepting the ones below an experienced freelancer’s pay grade, you can generally earn between $5 and $20 an hour doing any of the following without difficulty:

  • Transcription
  • Virtual Assistant Work
  • Sending and Checking Emails
  • Posting on Social Media
  • Working as a Live Chat Representative
  • Adding Text to Images
  • Performing Data Entry

And the best thing is that once you build a solid profile and get some much-needed experience, you’ll be better at your job and can start commanding more money. The best freelancers earn well in excess of $100,000 a year on these sites.

Most Importantly…Don’t Give Up

If you work hard, you’ll earn good money and live an easy life. That’s what a successful entrepreneur might tell you, right before they reel off a list of their successes followed by the ridiculous hours they worked. To an extent, they have a point. All entrepreneurs raised without a silver spoon in their mouths worked incredibly hard to get where they are and the same can be said for many other rich and successful people, including the ones who seem to breeze through life.

However, it doesn’t paint a whole picture. The single mother who works 2 or 3 jobs to put food on the table and keep her kids healthy works just as hard, but doesn’t earn as much; the failed artist or writer who spends 12 hours a day in the office/studio does everything except bleed for their art, but they don’t earn anything at all.

Success in the workplace is about making friends in the right places, always pushing for promotions, doing everything you can to please your superiors, and putting the needs of your company first. It’s a long, stressful, and frustrating battle, but if you make the right choices and take appropriate risks, it’s a battle you can win.

So, don’t give up, keep working hard, keep asking for those promotions and if you don’t get what you want and deserve, it might be time to give up the ghost and look for greener pastures elsewhere.