Take Your Best Shot: Scoring a Promotion

Scoring a Promotion Photo

Many hard-working project management practitioners hope that putting in the time and doing good work will lead to greater responsibilities and career advancement—but it’s not always the case. Sometimes, the difference between being promoted or staying stuck in the same role is a matter of marketing that is, selling your value to the right leaders.

Seek opportunities

So, how do you get noticed? Start by making your interest known in taking on new challenges. Seek out opportunities that will shine a light on your skills and leadership qualities. Be proactive because opportunities don’t come along every day, and sometimes they don’t knock.

The sum of your efforts will increase your visibility in an organization, and show higher ups that you have what it takes to get the job done.

Own your destiny

Diane Hatton, director of the New York-based Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Office of Project Planning and Oversight, started as a secretary 40 years ago, right out of community college. A little luck and a lot of hard work converged and eventually Diane joined one of the financial groups, a move that jump-started her career. Opportunities for advancement followed.

“I guess the most important piece of advice is that you need to figure out what you want from your job,” Hatton says. “You need to research what it is going to take to get there. And then you have to execute the plan.

“There are a lot of people who struggle with ‘I don’t really like this role,’ or ‘I wish I was doing something different,’ or ‘I’m kind of getting bored with what I’m doing.’ And you really have to step back and think, ‘What is it that I need to do and how am I going to get there?’ Because you are responsible for your destiny. And if you need to make a change, you need to be willing to do what it takes to make that change.”

Create your own career path

Sometimes it is necessary to create a new role that is customized to your unique skills and experience. Amber Simonsen, director of guest project development and delivery for Alaska Airlines in Seattle, WA convinced her company that it needed to create portfolio management positions. Not surprisingly, she was first in line to get one of those new roles.

“We have a saying within the enterprise PMO at Alaska that it’s not about what your manager thinks, it’s about what everybody else thinks if you’re going up for a promotion,” Simonsen says. “Are you known as a leader? Are you known as a performer? And is that the right role? Would anyone question whether you were the right person for that role? It’s all about reputation.”

Take tangible steps towards your next promotion

While there is no set formula for assuring a promotion is in your immediate future, there are some ways you can help to improve the odds. Moira Alexander, founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine, outlines the four key steps she says people should take if they want to land the next big promotion:

  1. Get clarity around your role.
  2. Look for ways to improve what you do and how you do it.
  3. Support your teammates.
  4. Make sure that you take the time to actually approach your manager about a promotion.

Says Alexander: “Become the type of employee or project manager or leader that you would want to hire and remain in a constant state of improvement, because realistically you are your most valuable work in progress.”

Go deeper with ways to score a promotion by listening to the full podcast How to Position Yourself for a Promotion on Projectified® with PMI, available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play music or PMI.org/podcast.


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