So you know you do a good job, you feel your boss trusts you, and you’re given cool projects to work on, but you want more! You are ready to ‘take the next step’ in your career, but despite positive performance reviews and a good track record you have not achieved any career advancement for a while and are starting to wonder “will I ever get promoted?”
If your spidey senses are saying you are being overlooked, then it’s time to assess whether:
1. You are seen as a technical expert
Being trusted to work on important projects may make you useful; but it does not necessarily mean you are viewed as a ‘leader’. If you have been in the same role for more than three years, delivered some great runs on the board, expressed a desire to take on more responsibility, but have NOT received a promotion; then you have likely been ‘branded’ — and not in a good way for climbing the ladder. You’ve been pigeonholed as a reliable technical expert! All managers require a core group of capable worker bees to get stuff done, and unfortunately you have become one of them.
2. External “talent” have been appointed in internal roles ahead of you
If new management positions have become available in your department or workplace, and before you even knew the position was available some hot shot from a competitor has taken the role; then you have not even been factored into your manager’s decision making. In short, they do not know and / or believe you have the skills to fill the role.
When you are viewed as a leader, and work in a workplace culture that promotes talent from within, then you will be made aware of upcoming opportunities and even asked to apply. If your manager isn’t barracking for you, or you’re not given the information to drive your own opportunities and put your hat in the ring, then it’s time to hit SEEK.
3. You have discussed your goals with your manager, but no action has been taken
If you have discussed your goals with your manager and even mapped out an action plan, but no action has been taken; then either your boss is being polite and doesn’t have the courage to tell you that you’re not seen as a leader; or you work for a crappy company where managers are not motivated to help advance their employees careers. If this is the case; run, and fast. Life is way too short to feel beholden to others, go somewhere that has a track record of transparency, talent development and promoting from within.
All hope is not lost though, if you genuinely want to stay where you are, there are a few things you can do to raise your profile in preparation to get promoted.
Build relationships with senior leaders outside your division. If you want to build influence within your company it is important that you raise your profile by having advocates in multiple parts of the business. Your next big opportunity may be in a different department, so figure out the pain points in other people’s divisions and find out ways to help solve the problem or participate in joint focus groups. It’s time to be your own brand ambassador!
Improve your LinkedIn profile. Similarly, if you want to stand out, your online presence has to be stellar. Being overlooked for an internal role can be as simple as your manager not being aware of your previous achievements. Build an online profile that boast your leadership skills and proven track record, then link with key people in your company including your manager, recruitment team and HR. It’s time to get brazen and put what you have achieved out there!
Simply ask! For the brave hearted who have less appetite to play a long game, you can set aside time to formally meet with your manager and proactively ask how you are perceived. Be prepared for honest answers, and to make positive improvements if you are given feedback. On the flip side, if your manager smooths over the question or doesn’t participate in an open conversation, then I repeat; run, and fast.