How to Get Promoted at Work: 7 Actionable Tips

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You’ve kept on grinding away and consistently produced awe-inspiring work. Well, kudos to you! However, you shouldn’t think that your hard work is all for nothing. It’s high time you learned how to get promoted.

Now, snagging that highly coveted promotion is no easy feat. According to a Gallup survey, 58% of employed adults were not given a promotion over the last five years. The circumstances become even grimmer for women.

The same survey says that 24% of working women feel that gender discrimination in promotion opportunities is one of the most important issues in the workplace today.

So, if you want to learn how to get promoted at work, here are a few things you can do:

Step 1: Understand the Job Role but Remain Flexible

If you’re ready for promotion, you need to prove that you know what to expect in the new role. As a good employee, you understand your role and perform your duties. However, if you want to vie for a higher position, you must be willing to go the extra mile.

Remember that the workplace adapts to the shifting operational goals. It’s not always feasible to follow a rigid job definition, especially since corporate demands change. So, if you’re after a higher position, make sure you

·        adapt to the adjustments in the workplace without complaining or holding grudges,

·        quickly and independently learn new systems and rules,

·        have a growth mindset, and

·        learn from your mistakes.

Step 2: Be a Self-Starter

You also need to demonstrate a strong work ethic. This means that your manager can rely on you when an unexpected problem comes up. If you are dependable, it means that you are a self-starter. Now, there are two aspects to being a self-starter:

·        Understanding what needs to be done

·        Exceeding expectations

Understanding What Needs to Be Done

This may seem obvious, but not everyone has the ability to see what should be done. Some people need to be told what to do before they start moving.

Now, while having a list of tasks is efficient for many employees, there are still problems that come with that. For instance, over time, these people will be overly dependent on their managers. They will be unable to identify what needs to be done on their own. For a while, this system may work. However, you will notice that they only reach the bare minimum despite their efforts.

What’s more, the manager will eventually get tired of telling people what they need to do. There will always be gaps in the things that the supervisor fails to inform their employees of. On the other hand, workers who see what has to be done will be able to spot issues right away. They always look at the bigger picture and go beyond what’s expected of them.

Another issue here is the lack of accountability. Because employees are told what to do, they rarely take responsibility for the results of their work. So, if anything goes wrong, they always play the victim and say that they only did what they were told to do. They don’t take ownership of their actions.

This can significantly affect an entire organization. A Chimanbhai Patel Institute study reveals that the lack of accountability will result in lower employee morale, reduced productivity, and higher turnover rates. So, if you care for your promotion and the entire company, you should be able to spot what needs to be done and areas of improvement.

Exceeding Expectations

The second aspect of being a self-starter is exceeding expectations. If a person turns a blind eye to problems in the workplace, they’re likely to be purposefully lazy. So, it’s not enough to see the areas of improvement. If you want to know how to get promoted at work quickly, you need to have the willingness to do the hard and dirty work.

Instead of looking at work as a means to an end, you should have a positive attitude about it. Your end goal should always be about the overall success of the business. When you have this professional outlook, you’re always ready to exceed expectations. If you’re working as if you’re just filling the hours to get your salary, you’re not promotion material. If you keep going the extra mile, your manager will notice the effort you put into your work.

Step 3: Be Open to Corrections and Training

Some people are self-motivated. However, that’s outright different from someone who’s simply unwilling to take directions from their managers.

A 2019 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 58% of managers never received training for their new role. That’s quite alarming, but if the opportunity is available, would you take it? You should possess the right attitude and be open to receiving direction and training.

Instead of being a know-it-all, you should have a teachable spirit. Just because you’re always asking for other people’s input, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work independently. It only shows that you are open to improvement and you value other people’s suggestions.

A Norwegian study on 1,500 leaders and their employees discussed the importance of humility. The research found that humble managers inspire better performance and greater commitment from their employees. So, if you’re vying for a higher position, better start training yourself to have a teachable attitude.

Step 4: Keep Track of Your Achievements

Your supervisor is likely too busy to monitor every accomplishment you make. So, make sure you document every quantifiable achievement. This way, you have concrete evidence that you can cite once you ask for a promotion.

Global Executive Coach Roberta Matuson refers to this practice as “strategic bragging.” The only way you can be seen among the sea of cubicles is if you advertise yourself. You can do this by regularly updating your resume, ensuring that your accomplishments are always highlighted.

Another way to document your performance is by using an employee productivity tracker. When you use Traqq, you can collect accurate data on your productivity over a given period. All you need to do is turn on the tracker’s widget on your desktop, and it will record your hours worked and activity levels.

On the dashboard, you can create a report on your productivity for a given period. Within a few clicks, you can export the data to a CSV or PDF file. You can use this as a supporting document for your workplace accomplishments.

Step 5: Approach Your Boss

Your manager will not know about your intentions if you don’t share them. Keep in mind that acquiring a promotion without involving your direct supervisor is almost impossible. So, speak to your manager and share your professional goals. Ideally, your targets should align with what your company wants to achieve.

No matter how introverted you are, you eventually need to speak up if you want to advance your career. You should know what to say to get promoted. Moreover, don’t blend into the wall when you’re in meetings, hallway conversations, or lunches. Instead, make sure you contribute something valuable.

Once you’ve shared your hopes for advancement, ask your manager for tips on how to get promoted at work. Ask him or her about specific outcomes and behavior that will help you achieve your goal. Remember that this conversation will be crucial in building your path towards your new role.

Step 6: Engage with Your Colleagues

At this point, your manager already knows that you want to get promoted. So, you should level up your game and always be seen and heard. Be an engaged employee and form solid and genuine relationships with your colleagues. Participate in anything surrounding your work, and offer solutions to problems you see.

When it comes to promotions, a candidate must show that they care. A higher role is not only associated with more money. A new job title also comes with new responsibilities. So, you should show that you truly want to be part of something that will succeed.

Step 7: Invest in Continuing Education

When you continue your professional education, you’re showing your company that your promotion is not based entirely on your performance. You are also exhibiting your willingness to exceed expectations by gaining the knowledge necessary to push your organization forward.

There are plenty of ways you can invest in continuing education. For instance, you can sign up for certificate programs, attend seminars, or register for online courses. Some of the more affordable options include reading books, listening to podcasts from field experts, or finding a mentorship program.

When you take control of your professional education, you will build your confidence. What’s more, you will keep abreast of the developments in your industry. You may even develop the soft skills necessary to move your career forward.

Extra Step: Move On

Have you been killing it at work yet there’s still no title change or pay raise? Well, it may be time to cut your losses.

Oftentimes, it is easier to get a new job with higher pay than to get a promotion in your current company. It gets even more difficult for women who are working from home. A Qualtrics and theBoardlist survey[ES1]  revealed that during the height of the pandemic in 2020, men were promoted three times more than women.

In most cases, moving to a new company promises a better salary. ADP’s Q3 2021 Workforce Vitality Report revealed that job switchers experienced a 6.6% salary growth, compared to the 4.8% bump for those who stayed put.

Often, making a move comes with a new title and a signing bonus. You can even expect the leadership role that comes with a promotion. Do you feel like being stuck for too long despite consistently proving yourself? Well, it may be time to update your CV and look for better opportunities elsewhere.

What’s the Difference Between a Promotion and an Advancement?

You may have heard the term “advancement” being used interchangeably with “promotion”. However, they are different in several key aspects. In general, you can associate advancements with developmental growth. Meanwhile, promotions have to do with moving up the ladder within an organization. Other aspects that differentiate a promotion from an advancement include the following:

·    Upward Movement

·    Remuneration

·    Performance

·    Development

Upward Movement

One of the major things that differentiate a job promotion from an advancement is the opportunity for upward movement. When you’re getting promoted, you’re moving to a higher role. Meanwhile, when you’re advancing in your career, you’re putting emphasis on developing a deeper understanding of your job or gaining more knowledge.

For instance, if you’re in an entry-level position, you can expect to move to a senior-level role in the future. Indeed, career advances help you qualify for a promotion. However, even with a beefed-up skill set, it’s still possible to remain in the same position.


Most of the time, you can expect a pay raise with a promotion. Employers know that when they offer a senior-level position, the salary that comes with it should reflect the responsibilities and role. In general, career advancements do not influence the salary level of an employee.

Let’s take a registered nurse as an example. Let’s say they’ve been promoted from a generalist role to an advanced practitioner. Since they’re working in a higher-level job that requires training and certification, they can also expect a salary boost.

Now, if they make a lateral move to a different hospital department, they are only advancing their career. Indeed, they can expect bonuses, but they won’t have an overall increase in their salary.


There are certain parameters when it comes to job promotions. For an employee to qualify, they need to exceed their work requirements. Moreover, they must exhibit leadership qualities. On the other hand, career advancements only encompass duties and tasks that will further develop a person’s expertise and skills.

You can voluntarily spend additional hours in the office to gain or master a new skill. As we’ve mentioned, you can also invest in continuing education. These are career advancements that may qualify you for a promotion.


When you’re given a promotion at work, it’s proof that you’re ready for bigger responsibilities and a higher role. Meanwhile, making advances in your career means you’re taking the initiative to improve your skills, broaden your industry knowledge, and create better professional goals. A job promotion proves you have the qualifications to move up. An advancement shows you do what it takes to develop and grow.


We admit that learning how to get promoted at work is no mean feat. However, if you seriously want to move up the corporate ladder, you need to make a commitment. Remember that it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. So, put yourself forward and reasonably do what it takes to get promoted.

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