Get Promoted Without Working Any Harder

This isn’t a get-rich quick scheme. There’s no trickery or deception involved. Believe it or not, promotions and raises are usually made based on perceived competence—the important word being perceived. These tips are not meant to hide incompetence (if that’s your problem you need a whole different article!). These are here to help you show your boss and coworkers how competent you are, and to keep you from accidentally convincing people you aren’t.

Speak Well

It doesn’t matter how brilliant the words coming out of your mouth are; if you mumble and use slang your listeners will value what you say far less than if you speak clearly and confidently. Pick any great speech from history and imagine it with mumbled slang and you’ll see what I mean: “Umm… y’know I, like, have a dream or somethin’, right. That, uh… maybe this country will, like…”

Quick tips for speaking better:

  • Speak from your diaphragm. Breathe from the bottom of your belly and push your speech out from your there.
  • Throw away “uh”, “er”, “like”, and any other words that don’t have any meaning.
  • Avoid slang.
  • Don’t swear.

Dress Professionally

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. It’s a bit cliché, but it absolutely works. This doesn’t mean that you need to wear a three-piece suit to do data entry, but it does mean dress professionally. You may be able to get away with a polo shirt in your office, but you’ll command more respect if you wear a button up shirt. Wearing what you can “get away with” gives the impression that your attitude towards work is to only do what you have to. Making the effort to dress nicer that you have to implies that you’re willing to go the extra mile in your work.

Be Extra Punctual

If you’re late people notice and think poorly of you for it, so being on time is a no-brainer, but if you want to be noticed then show up 15 minutes early for work every day. You don’t have to start working the moment you get there—in fact you can use that time to have a cup of coffee or discreetly surf the internet. Just being there makes you look good, and your boss will definitely notice.

Good Posture

Good posture goes hand-in-hand with speaking well. If you’re constantly slouching or hunched over you simply look bad. If you stand straight and confident, you’ll come across dynamic and confident. There’s a reason that you never see slouchy pictures of CEOs, great political leaders, or super heroes. It’s because you wouldn’t respect them as much.

To improve your posture try a technique my chiropractor calls “The Woodcutter”. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Then raise your arms straight above your head like you’re about to chop wood. Now leaving your body in the same position, lower your arms to your side. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your chest forward, your head tall as if pulled by a string from above, and your pelvis rotated slightly forward. Give it a try. You’ll feel better and look better.

Propose Solutions, Not Problems

Here’s what most people find a problem at their work: they complain about the problem. The way to stand out is to present a solution, not a problem. Let’s look at an example: your office store room is crowded and nobody can ever find what they need. Everyone in your office gripes about this problem. Instead of just complaining, you, being destined for greatness, take two minutes to look at how it can be fixed.

When everyone else is telling your boss “the stock room’s a disaster”, you go to your boss and say “I noticed that the stock room is pretty disorganized. Perhaps we can get the maintenance guy to put shallower shelves in. This would give us more room to move in there, and prevent things from being lost behind other items. Once the new shelves are in we can label each shelf so that our supplies are consistently put in the same spot, making them easier to find”.

In the situation above, you look good for being a creative thinker and problem solver, and even better: you didn’t have to do any additional work. You just had to approach it from a different angle.


There you go: five super-easy, painless ways to look smarter, more competent and ready for a promotion, and all without actually working any harder. No overtime, no added stress. Here’s my challenge to you: try these for one month. If nobody comments on what a great job you’re doing, I’ll refund your admission price to this blog.

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Mark is a graphic designer and audio engineer from Canada. He is the editor of Some Design Blog and the author of the soon to be published Encyclopedia of Home Recording.


  1. bala s murali on the 28th April

    Thanks Mark, for your awesome post to work awesome.

    It’s really a must read post for every professionals.

    Thanks again.

  2. Sonali Agrawal on the 28th April

    Awesome points…I recently started got into an on-site contract job..and this post helps me.

  3. Gary on the 28th April

    You actually might want to be more specific about the domain you are talking about. For example in the technology domain not only engineering but directors also wear jeans on a every day basis… try visiting Microsoft or Amazon campus??? Dressing professionally in those companies does not get you any extra credit… as the culture of the company is totally different…

    • Tim on the 28th April


      Good dress applies to jeans and t-shit offices as well: i.e. Drop your Ikeda lock-ups and Velcro B.U.M. equipment sneaks and pick up a pair of Levi 501’s and Chukkas.

  4. Carl Natale on the 29th April

    These are good points that have worked for me. Even the dress-for-success strategy has validity in casual offices. No, I never got a promotion based upon my tie collection. But it’s part of a an image and track record that fosters confidence.

    I would emphasize the points about speaking well and being a problem solver. Those will get you far in any setting.

    Thank you for the great advice.

  5. Sean Haggard on the 9th June

    Hi, Mark,

    I think you give good advice in this post. Missing any one of these items can *hurt* your promotion, but I don’t believe they necessarily advance your promotion opportunities (except for problem-solving). I made a few comments on my site.

  6. Caco on the 25th November

    We are in the eyes of our customers and co-workers what we project of ourselves.

    wonderful tips!

  7. Work From Home Ideas Guy on the 15th January

    Excellent suggestions, and spot on. May sound corny, but I have a mantra that I recite daily – “In a well-dressed, well-groomed and well-spoken manner I exceed expectations daily.” It betters my performance and puts me in the right mindset …

  8. iliganva on the 27th August

    I completely agree! In every thing that we do, we must always try to exceed the expectations of our boss to prove that we are good enough to handle responsibilities. If we execute with all our heart every job we are assigned to, success is never impossible.

  9. TheResumeBuilder on the 27th August

    I agree looks does matter in a way, dressing up professionally always leave good impressions. Infact not just good impressions but respect as well. People respect you more when they see you as someone to be really respected through the clothes you wear, the way you talk, the way you act, the way you deal with people. Yeah, your looks in a way is a factor.

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