How To Earn Your First Promotion

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services
You’re a natural achiever who sailed through college with a pristine GPA, you maybe excelled at sports and/or were social leader and now you’re chomping at the bit to take on the professional world.  Someone like you has the right to expect to move up the career ladder very quickly. Right? Wrong!  Well, extremely unlikely.  The reality is, your future promotions depend more on the foundation you lay with your day-to-day performance  rather than on any laurel-resting from your college years. 

Promotion Pursuit Starts Almost Immediately
Work on your first promotion starts as soon as you land that first gig, your future success starts right now. But find your way to the restroom before you start correcting all your employer’s mistakes. Invest your first ninety days figuring out the way things work, getting up to speed with your job’s deliverables, asking questions so that you can solve more problems that you create, understanding who’s who in your department – those who are an influence for good vs those who like to find fault, and criticize no-one, even if encouraged to do so. Lastly, always put in the extra effort with a smile, lending a helping hand whenever you can and to whoever you can.
By following this regimen you’ll gradually find yourself on a firmer footing and have time to look around and notice the subtleties that tell you about who has real influence: who’s in the inner circle vs. the outer circle of your professional world, and why. From this you’ll know who to emulate and who to listen to most attentively. Sometime over the balance of your first year, you just might find yourself becoming a member of the inner circle: that secret place  where all the special assignments, raises and promotions lie. So simultaneously, it’s time to start thinking about your next step up the promotional ladder. 

For more advice for emerging professionals,
check out “Knock Em Dead Secrets & Strategies
 For First Time Job Seekers” available on Amazon 


It’s All About Your Credentials
Your next step doesn’t come automatically as a result of being in the inner circle, but it positions you to make that step. Promotions come as a result of hard work, credibility, visibility, and a plan of attack. You get hired based on credentials, not potential, and you get promoted when you are a known quantity within the company.
A successful career is a marathon, not a sprint so important promotions don’t often happen in the first few months; rarely  in a year, and for most people, significant promotions often don’t happen till the second or third year. 
Don’t expect your abilities be as well known as you might wish. As career expert and author of the awesome Blind Spots, Alexandra Levit says, “You need to learn to capitalize on your skills and assert your achievements. If you don’t do it, no one else will, and you’ll be out-promoted by people who know how to leverage their contributions. Remember the fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Six Steps To Promotion

Breaking away from the pack takes time and strategy and here are some of the key considerations that will help you do it:
  1. First, secure the job you have by becoming the best you can be and the best there is at this job in your company.  Do you have superior skills in all the areas required for this job? If not, start your own private professional-development program. Constant skill development secures your job, increases your employability, and shows management that you are someone who is self-directed and capable of professional growth.
  2. Next, identify the next logical step up your chosen professional ladder. Collect six to ten job postings for this new target job title, and do a Target Job Deconstruction on that job. This will tell you how employers prioritize and express their needs for this job. You can learn more about the execution of Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) for promotions, in Knock ’em Dead: Secrets and Strategies for First-Time Job Seekers.
  3. Execute a GAP analysis on the new job’s requirements: Looking at the prioritized list of deliverables for this job, that you identified with TJD, identify the gaps between the skills you have and the skills you need to qualify you for that next step on  the ladder. Flagging missing skills and experience gives you a professional development program to pursue.
  4. This will give you focus for assignments and experiences you’ll want to pursue at work. Once you are actively pursuing your skill development program, it’s time to talk to your boss about your goals  and what you are  doing to gain the skills and experience you’ll need. Explain that you want to work towards this job over time by developing the skills it demands.
  5. Model yourself on  people who do this job successfully. Look for an inner-circle mentor who is doing this job or who came from this job. Ask to become their acolyte and in exchange for their guidance you will do your best to reciprocate.
  6.  Finally, you’ll recognize that your personal professional development programs are pursued on your own time, because they’re crucial to every step you’ll ever take up the ladder of success.
You’ll Still Have To Fight For It
When a position opens up, a company normally looks within and then goes outside for talent. It is easier to climb the ladder within a company where you are a known quantity and have the kind of sterling reputation you have worked to achieve. You will throw your hat in the ring when opportunities arise and you’re patient if you don’t win first time out. 

Candidates from outside the company come armed with resumes that carefully focus on the experience and abilities they can bring to the job. You should prepare in the same way, first creating a resume targeted on this job, and then preparing for interviews just as you would for an opportunity with another company. Having a properly prepared resume encourages your employer to look at you in a new light and tells them that you have the qualifications and a serious desire for greater responsibility.

Even though this is your first job, you need to get ahead of the curve in preparing for your first promotion—even when you know that promotion won’t actually become available for quite some time. Promotions aren’t rewards for time served; they take as much preparation—and really quite similar preparation—as your first job search did. For more insights on how to make a great impression and get ahead on your first job, check out Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.

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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
All rights reserved

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