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The Top Three Things Holding You Back From a Promotion

Oct 03, 2017

You work really hard, perhaps too hard. And you’re doing what you believe are the right things in order to advance your career. Yet, here you are. In the very same role where you started. The word “frustrated” cannot begin to describe what it feels like to be in this position.

In my work as an executive coach and job search mentor, I have seen this scenario countless times. In particular, I see three things holding people back from being promoted.

Failure to self-promote

Early in my career, I daydreamed about receiving calls from headhunters near and far asking me to consider new opportunities. In retrospect, my time would have been better spent letting my boss and her colleagues know about all the great work I was doing, as my daydreams never did come true.

In today’s workplace, there is much competition for attention. As I wrote in my book, Suddenly in Charge, you have to pump up the volume and make enough noise so people in the organization know who you are and what you are accomplishing. You do not want to be obnoxious in promoting yourself, but others in the organization need to know your value; they are not likely to find out unless you make them aware.

Think about one or two things you are most proud of and be sure to weave these accomplishments into your everyday conversation with your boss and their peers. Do not worry about sounding boastful. People will see you as a person of interest, which is exactly how you want to be seen in order to get noticed.

Lack of confidence

Imagine you are the boss and have to decide who to promote into a leadership position. You have one employee who is confident and rarely resorts to second-guessing and another employee who is always looking to you for validation. If you are like most people, you choose the candidate exuding confidence.

If you are more like the candidate with a lot of self-doubt, you need to work on increasing your confidence level. This starts with a new mindset: You have to believe you are in your job because someone thought you had what it takes to do the job. Otherwise, they would have hired someone else. You also have to believe you deserve the promotion you seek.

You can hire a coach to help you work on boosting your confidence. If that’s not in your budget, then consider asking a trusted work colleague to signal when you are sliding back into self-doubting behavior. You can also work on increasing your skill level by reading books or taking online courses in areas where you want to improve.

Not asking for a promotion

It is certainly nice to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to take on more responsibility at work. But that is not always how promotions occur. Sometimes the person who asks for the job is the one who actually gets it.

You may be thinking, “How do I ask for a job that I don’t even know is available?” Well, you do not have to ask for a specific promotion; you can simply tell your boss you are interested in taking on more responsibility and that you would like to be considered for a promotion the next time a position opens up. A reminder every now and again will be helpful as well, to ensure you stay on top of mind.

About the Author

Roberta Chinsky Matuson, The Talent Maximizer® and President of Matuson Consulting, helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is the author of four books including the newly released, The Magnetic Leader.

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