How to Guarantee Your Next Promotion : The Promotion Checklist
I was promoted 10 times in my 15-year career. I was given most of these promotions without applying or waiting for my turn, instead, I earned them by demonstrating I could do “next level” work before I got the title.
Contrary to common belief, your eligibility for a promotion is determined by the value you bring to the company NOT how long you’ve worked there or how hard you work.
I know what you are thinking. The company you work for is different. You have promotion cycles, an eligibility period, and very clear guidelines for qualifications. I believe you. But I have seen all of the above go out the window for high performers.
I’ve seen it at companies the size of Microsoft all the way to small startups. When employers believe they have more to gain by promoting you, they’ll find a way. They’ll even create a role that doesn’t exist to keep you around.
So, if you want to level up, you can wait for someone else to decide when you are ready, or you can create your own opportunity and earn it.
The Promotion Checklist
When I started qualifying myself for more senior roles I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to have a bigger impact. A few years ago I finally put everything together into a step-by-step process anyone can execute. Here is my full promotion checklist. It includes everything you need to do to position yourself to earn a promotion no matter where you are starting from.
1. Define your promotion goal
Clearly articulate what role, and level of responsibility you want to secure. It’s important to get specific so you can then break down what it takes to qualify yourself for this role. Make sure you choose a role that you can level up into both internally and externally to keep your options open.
2. Define the ICP (Ideal Candidate Profile)
Create a summary of the skills and experiences you’ll need to acquire to qualify for the promotion.
Your goal is to get crystal clear on what it takes to grow from where you are now to where you want to be. Your company may provide you with a corporate career ladder, but that’s just a starting point.
To cover your bases and uncover unknown unknowns, talk to people who have the job you want to level up into. They’ll give you additional insights.
This step also serves as preparation for the conversation you’ll have with your manager. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
3. Discuss the promotion with your manager
Your manager can either support or block your promotion. You need them on your side.
Be open about your career goals and ask for their support in the process.
Your goal is to set up clear and measurable KPIs that will justify a promotion. You need to define what success looks like, so when you hit your goals you will eligible for the promotion.
Ask your manager these 3 questions:
What skill gaps do I need to fill to get this promotion?
What results do you need me to deliver to qualify for this promotion?
What projects can I work on or initiate to get those results?
4. Build a network of supporters
Your manager is just one decision-maker. More often than not promotion decisions require a committee. Your goal is to build a relationship with those stakeholders in advance so that when the time is right they’ll go to bat for you. Don’t wait till the last minute, build those relationships long before you need them.
5. Start executing your plan, overdeliver and track your success:
Exceed expectations and drive more value than expected. Asking for a raise is a lot easier when you generate 10x what you're asking for.
Tip: don’t forget to track your achievements! Hitting your goals may take months, so document all the wins you deliver along the way.
6. Advocate for yourself
Positioning yourself for a promotion is a combination of delivering staggering results, and nurturing the right reputation. To do that you have to advocate for yourself along the way. Make it a habit to share your progress and achievements. You want the right stakeholders to perceive you as a high performer.
7. Make the ask/apply
When you hit your goals or when the role becomes available, apply for the promotion. Let your manager know you are expecting their support in your application and let your advocates know you need their support.
8. Make your case
Showcase your success stories (demonstrate overdelivering), outline the additional responsibilities you have taken and what additional results you have delivered that have prepared you for the role.
This is your moment to demonstrate not only what you have achieved so far that qualifies you for the promotion, but also what you would do moving forward in the new role.
9. Make a succession plan
This is a well-kept secret, but I’m going to share it.
Your manager wants to help you grow, but they are worried about replacing you. They don’t know how long it would take and who will manage the workload if you level up. Your success is their problem. You can easily help them out by creating a succession plan before you get the promotion. You can use it to ease their mind and show them you’ll support the team as you transition.
Where do I start?
The biggest difference between people who get promoted often and fast and those who stay stuck is intentionality. Those who get promoted actively and intentionally work on qualifying themselves for the next level.
The promotion checklist isn’t rocket science, anyone can follow these guidelines and level up, yet most people never do. I’ve noticed it happens for a few reasons:
They are afraid to talk with their manager (fear they may feel intimidated)
They don’t invest in relationship building and think their work will speak for them
They don’t know how to make a compelling case that will make their promotion a “no brainer”.
If that sounds like you, I've got you covered.
I created The Promotion Accelerator digital course to help you make your next promotion inevitable.
Check it out here! It only takes 90 minutes to guarantee your next promotion.