Be Prepared for a Promotion


There is a growing trend out there for working a shorter work week or even leaving the corporate workforce to work for yourself.  But, for most of us, leaving our current job or even shortening our work week is just not on the short-term horizon.  Given that stark reality, it would be wise to set yourself up for some upward movement in your current job. Easier said than done right? Well, there certainly are a number of steps that you can take to “set yourself up” for a bump in pay and a bump in respect in the workplace.

Educate Yourself

I’m a firm believer in the quote “The truly educated never graduate”.  Adding marketable skills and training to your resume should be a constant in your life, particularly if your company will pay for it. At my place of employment the company will pay the full price of degree classes, including books, but you would be surprised how many workers don’t take advantage of it. Continuing education has become much more popular in the past few years.  In a recent article in the New York Times it was stated that:

“community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, for-profit technical schools, professional organizations and everything in between are expanding their course offerings and retooling their curriculums.”

This expansion of the offerings is more in response to the downturn in the economy and the desire of workers who have lost their jobs to get more training. But, for those of you who are still in your jobs, it is an excellent opportunity to expand the breadth of your knowledge. You would be surprised at the amount of colleges that offer online degree programs. I am currently finishing up another degree that I took entirely online. The major advantage of this type of education is that you don’t have to deal with the logistics of fighting traffic after work and heading to class. The time savings is significant and you can work on your schoolwork at a time that is convenient for you.

Learn How to Speak Confidently

As far as promotions go, a boss will be looking for someone to whom he can delegate uncomfortable tasks to.  Oftentimes this may require giving a presentation to a group at a conference or at a company luncheon. If you can learn to get comfortable speaking in front of a group this will help you immeasurably in the eyes of the executives in your company.

Easier said than done huh? Well, there is an international group that was founded in 1924 called Toastmasters whose mission statement is “Become the Speaker & Leader You Want to Be”.  As a former president of a local Toastmasters chapter, I can attest to the fact that working on your speaking in front of a supportive group of fellow members will definitely prepare you for presentations or extemporaneous talks you may have to give at your workplace.

Get to Know the Executives of the Company

In a smaller company it’s typically a lot easier to get to know the executives of the company on a first-name basis.  Those executives were once in your position and they understand what it takes to move ahead in an organization.  Typically they will be amenable to helping you out if they can see that you are working to improve yourself and help out the company.

Try to discover some activities that you may have in common. Golf is very popular in the corporate world and many meetings take place on the golf course. It wouldn’t hurt to buy some clubs and take a few lessons. If you get to know the executives then they may make it a point to ask for your help for information that they may need to do their jobs. These are the opportunities that could propel you to the advancement you are looking for in your career. It is at these times that you may have to put in the extra hours but the payoff may be invaluable.

Stick to Your Guns

Company executives typically want to promote people who have their own ideas and opinions, and the conviction to stand by them. The idea that “Yes” men get ahead is a fallacy. If you feel firmly about a certain topic or strategy related to the workplace, state your opinion and stick by it.

Back your assertions with facts rather than gut feelings. If you show that you’ve done your homework on a topic this will also display to the executives your preparedness and initiative.

Have Integrity & Be Ethical

Dictionary.com defines the word integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” At my workplace we are required on a yearly basis to take “Ethics” courses.  Companies are especially sensitive to impropriety in the workplace. An example of this is a company setting a limit on the dollar amount of a gift that a buyer can receive from a supplier.

There is a strict code of conduct within companies that the employees must abide by. Any variation from these guidelines is taken very seriously and could lead to termination of employment. Having a good awareness and understanding of your company’s ethics requirements is extremely important if you are looking for advancement.

If you are still at your current workplace and are looking for advancement it is essential that you prepare for what comes next. Be ready for the opportunities that will come your way. Make people notice you by going that extra mile to educate yourself and improve your personal skills. No one is going to give you anything. You have to go and get it by your actions and your conviction. There are always opportunities in life and, unless you are prepared, they just may pass you by.


I am a fellow cubicle dweller and have been working as a software professional for over 20 years. I have a passion site devoted to making your workspace a more organized, efficient, and happier place at Cubicle Bliss. You can check out my latest e-book which identifies some exceptional cubicle accessories which will help you upgrade your small work space to get it as organized and productive as possible!
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Discussion

  1. Ophélie on the 8th October

    “The truly educated never graduate”. I love that. I’m about to finish a certificate program, and I’m already looking forward to starting the next one. A few nights of class per week means I have very little free time, but school has been very rewarding, and I never want to stop learning. I think I’ll take a German course next!
    As for Toastmasters: I went to one meeting a few months ago, and was totally impressed with what I saw. A great group of people helping each other, and the speeches were entertaining and informative. I’ll be joining as soon as my schedules no longer conflicts with meeting times.

    • Bob Bessette on the 8th October

      Hi Ophelie,
      I keep that quote on my computer monitor and will always be taking classes. Since I have started blogging, I may just switch gears and take some Journalism classes after this 3rd degree is done. Congratulations on working on your certificate and to eventually completing it in the near future. German sounds interesting!

      I recently re-joined a Toastmasters group as I was out of it for a long while. You cannot go wrong in being a part of a group like the Toastmasters.

      Thanks for reading.

      Best,
      Bob Bessette

  2. Nona on the 8th October

    I, too, love “The truly educated never graduated.” I so enjoy being constantly involved in learning! I am intrigued by Toastmasters – I think when we return to the States to live, I will have to check it out. It sounds like an amazing opportunity!

    Thanks for the post!

    • Bob Bessette on the 8th October

      Nona,
      You will not regret joining Toastmasters. Everyone is so supportive and it is just a nurturing environment to learn to speak well. I don’t think I will ever stop taking classes especially since my work pays for it. There is always something to learn!
      Thanks for the comment.

      Best,
      Bob

  3. Jen on the 8th October

    Great post Bob! :-)
    I really like the proactive message and as you say, not everyone is in the position to (or even want to) work for themselves, so it’s making the most of where we are. Love that quote – will save that one too.
    Thanks
    Jen

    • Bob Bessette on the 8th October

      Jen,
      I try to make the best of my current work situation. Could it be better? Probably, but I tend to look at the positives in my current job. Would it be great to be self-employed and having more time to do other things? Yes, and hopefully I will get there. But, I am not going to sit there and be miserable in my current job. To be honest, I am very happy to be employed!
      Thanks for leaving a comment…

      Best,
      Bob

  4. Christine Livingston on the 8th October

    Hi Bob,

    Great post! Like Ophelie, I loved the quote “The truly educated never graduate”! And I support your advice that people develop and educate themselves – even if their companies can’t or won’t pay for it.

    I work for myself now, but in my last couple of jobs I was really lucky to get a lot of brilliant training and mentoring. What I found was that, as well as giving me new skills, these things also boosted my confidence and morale, both of which I think served me well in the promotion stakes. I’d be curious to know whether you got any benefits that you hadn’t expected from doing your degree course, and what they were for you.

    Best wishes

    Christine

    • Bob Bessette on the 8th October

      Hi Christine,
      My latest degree is totally online and the benefits are many. Due to the fact that it was online there were many people, as with the blogosphere, from different parts of the world. So the exposure to different cultures was enlightening. If the degree was not online I wouldn’t have been able to have the flexibility to work at hours that were convenient to me. I may not have even pursued the degree if I couldn’t have done it online due to the logistics of having to get to class. These are just a few of the benefits of taking an online degree program.

      Best,
      Bob

  5. Christine Livingston on the 8th October

    I think that’s brilliant, Bob. One of the things I love about blogging is meeting people that I never would have otherwise and getting the value of their points of view, so I can imagine that is a huge benefit when you’re doing a degree.

    Also, I should have said it earlier, but I hugely admire that you’re doing a degree whilst working full-time. I know that you’re doing the degree online, but nevertheless that takes huge personal commitment and discipline!

  6. Bob Bessette on the 8th October

    Thanks Christine. When I started it, the school didn’t have all of the courses online but the demand of online courses led to them adding more and more classes. So, in effect, I didn’t have to go to the campus at all. I think that is great especially for mothers with small children who want to continue their education but don’t have the flexibility to go to a campus. They can do their homework either while the kids are sleeping or while they are at school. I have noticed many married women who are adding more education to their resumes through online education. It’s an excellent option..

    Best,
    Bob

  7. Jen on the 8th October

    Hey Bob,
    Wow! I remember you saying you arrive at the gym at 4.45am each morning and work full time and obviously I know you write your blog, and then I just read that you are also doing a degree! :-) That is walking the talk!
    Jen

    • Bob Bessette on the 8th October

      Jen,
      I believe that you always have to constantly try to improve yourself. Since I joined the blogosphere it is really nice to know that there are so many other people out there who feel the same way, including yourself. I’ve learned, in a short time, that people who write blogs are self-motivated. They know that they have to go out and get what they want. They don’t sit back and wait for someone to hand them something. It is truly refreshing to join in the conversation with such motivated souls!

      Best,
      Bob

    • Bob Bessette on the 10th October

      Thanks James. I’ll have to check it out!

      Best,
      Bob

  8. Jen on the 10th October

    Good stuff Bob – great attitude :-)

  9. Matt on the 31st October

    Hey Bob, Great article. I’m currently in my first 4 months in a software development position with a company that has a mish-mash of software packages and technologies. I’m very nervous because I have so little experience, I just finished school for computer programming, and have spent the time since learning everything I can, from VBA to PHP to CSS to AJAX. I sometimes wish I had a little less responsibility and that I had come in as a Junior developer with a mentor to help get me going, instead of this world of uncertainty. But, all I can do is DO MY best. I try every day to learn at least one thing new. I do love a challenge and am slightly an overachiever, but feel a little overwhelmed sometimes, I think I just strayed a little…….anyways, you said some inspiring things is all. :)

    • Bob Bessette on the 2nd November

      Hi Matt,
      Good luck in your job. I can relate to the mish-mash of software applications. A mish-mash can be a good thing as it will expose you to different technologies which is great for someone starting out. You will discover the good and the bad of different technologies. It sounds like you have a great attitude. To this day, I also try to learn something new every day.
      Sometimes more responsibility will push you to learn quicker. Just try to learn as you have been doing and work hard. You will succeed! You have the right attitude. Just stick with it. It will all work out in the end if you keep that attitude and work to learn every day.
      I wish you well!

      Best,
      Bob

  10. Nigel on the 2nd August

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  11. Quentin on the 1st July

    One thing you should add is to find a mentor that can give you pointers about succeeding at the next level. Rather than learn everything the hard way, it’s helpful to learn from someone else’s experience.

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