“Ability is nothing without opportunity”. -
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “How do I get promoted?”.
I am also often asked to comment on popular “tips” on how to make your boss give a promotion or how to write to an unknown CEO and make them give you a job.
I will let you into a secret, one of the biggest turn offs when you are a CEO, is to have some unknown person write an unsolicited email or letter asking for a job. Almost all organizations have legal requirements to have an open search process.
Writing directly to a very busy person with a direct demand to get employed indicates the author is desperate, does not think they are good enough to get selected through any open selection process, and thinks that you as CEO are open to perverting the legal selection process.
Almost certainly such letters will get a polite response, I have written enough of them myself, but it has not done your application any favors.
Likewise storming into the bosses office and offering an ultimatum in an attempt to get a promotion or pay rise is not something I personally would recommend. My own inclination when getting such an ultimatum from an employee to promote them or see them leave is to help facilitate their departure (and as rapidly as due legal process will permit) – even if they then back down and retract their ultimatum. There is enough real drama in the workplace without encouraging people to manufacture their own.
Any leader who is committed to the genuine advancement of their organization will want to hire based on the merits of the candidates in a fair and open selection process.
However having said this my experience is that, if you are seeking promotion in your existing organization, it is likely to be an extremely difficult and long process. You may well be literally waiting for people to die or retire before you can step up just one rung at a time.
Of course there are organizations that do not promote in an open and fair process based only on merit. But if you have read my earlier posts on corruption in the organization then you will already know that I view corruption as one of the greatest evils that can afflict an organization. Any board that accepts corruption within its organization or its organizational structure and does not act to remove it is either too weak to be effective or is filled with corruption itself.
So with all that I have said how does one get promoted?
The first step is to identify what role you wish to fill and then study carefully what skills, qualifications and experience are needed to occupy that role. Then devote yourself to acquiring all those requirements while you are in your existing post.
This will involve great sacrifice. But anything worthwhile in life requires great sacrifice (do not believe the modern hype about easy quick fixes).
Network, but not by pestering people with the constant “Give me a Job”. Instead seek outstanding referees who really know you and will give a good report on you to a potential employer.
Spend time on preparing your application package. Make it outstanding and spend lots of time improving it. Think of each job application as a way to improve your application for the next job application and not as a way to get a job. This mindset will help you cope with the large number of rejections that you will receive. Never get discouraged by the rejections. Always try and ask for feedback on how you can improve your application.
Remember that most organizations will not go to the expense of advertising for a senior post unless they have some idea of potential candidates. This means they may have already predisposed themselves to selecting a candidate before they even advertise. They will never publicly admit this and they may not even be consciously aware of it.
The world is not fair and it does not owe you anything. So keep applying and improving your application skills and the quality of your application. Sooner or later you will get called to interview. Again view this as a way to train yourself to improve your interview skills, not as a way to get a job.
Ignore the often cruel rejection letters you will get. For some reason many people cannot control themselves when writing a rejection letter and their “dark side” comes forth. When you get such rejection letter just be thankful you don’t have to work with such people and more on to the next application.
Each application letter should be specifically for the job. Not a general cover letter.
Research your target organization so you know everything you can about it. Show that knowledge in your cover letters and your interview.
Persistence is often the only difference between success and failure. So you will eventually get that job offer and promotion.
It will almost certainly mean a new location, new people and new challenges.