Warren Weeks, Business Coach & Entrepreneur
You work hard, you’re a team player and a sharp dresser. You have big career aspirations and the work ethic to match. Congrats! But, contrary to what many people might believe, those attributes alone aren’t necessarily going to tip the scales in your favour when promotion time rolls around.
If you’re serious about climbing the corporate ladder, here are some practical things you can do to increase your value in the workplace.
Excel at Your Current Job
At the risk of sounding obvious, make sure you’re firing on all cylinders in your current role before vying for that next position. Are you hitting all your targets and KPIs? Do you always meet deadlines? Are you adding measurable value to the organization on a consistent basis? Use performance reviews as an opportunity to assess where you’re at. Ask your manager for specific feedback about where you can improve. Work on any identified weak areas. Level up your game to the point where you are indispensable to the team.
Be Your Own Advocate
Don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder someday for that promotion. Make it known among your company’s leadership that you’re interested in better job opportunities. Make your aspirations known in a professional manner. Ask what you need to do to earn that promotion. Then, set out to tick every item off that list.
Take on Roles Outside Your Job’s Direct Responsibility
If you want to make yourself indispensable to the organization and increase your promote-ability, look for opportunities to add value above and beyond your job description. A good leader will recognize, appreciate and, ultimately, reward that kind of eagerness and initiative.
Level Up Your LinkedIn Profile
When it comes to your career, your LinkedIn profile is your online persona, 24-hour website and a window into who you are as a professional, all rolled up into one. I studied the LinkedIn profiles of young Ontario brokers for a talk I did for the Young Brokers Conference in 2019 and found (to my surprise) that 24.2% of them didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile. Of those who did:
- 20.8% didn’t have a photo
- 37.5% didn’t have a bio
- The average number of connections was a lowly 142
They say, “dress for the job you want”. I would extend that to, “create the LinkedIn profile for the job you want”. Take an hour and crank your LinkedIn profile up to the next level by:
- Adding a professional headshot
- Adding an appropriate banner image
- Writing a bio that Ernest Hemingway would be proud of
- Connecting with every person you know and meet
- Personalizing your connection requests with a short note
- Spending a few minutes per week liking, commenting on and engaging with peers
- Sharing or crafting articles that would be valuable to those in your industry
Have a Strong Mentor
A mentor is typically a more experienced person from your industry who can support, advise and guide you in your career. A great mentor will take the time to get to know you and the challenges you’re facing and provide you with valuable insights and advice. There’s compelling research that mentees are five times more likely to be promoted than their colleagues who don’t participate in a mentoring program. Retention rates are also better for those who participate in mentorship programs (22% higher for mentees and 20% higher for mentors). Some companies offer a mentorship program. If your employer doesn’t, you can do some legwork to identify one on your own. When it comes to your career, having a strong mentor is a superpower.
Feed Your Brain
Someone once asked Warren Buffett about his secrets to success. He pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.” While 500 pages a day is unrealistic for most, doing any amount of reading (and I would extend this to podcasts and audiobooks) will expand your mind, help make you more interesting in job interviews and make you a more well-rounded person overall.
If you’re deliberate and consistent in applying these tips, you will undoubtedly increase your value to your employer and, in turn, your odds of getting that coveted promotion.