They say the average worker will hold 10 different jobs in a career before age forty. If that’s the case, many of them will hopefully come from promotions, whether that’s within your current organization or beyond.

With promotions being a key part of your career progression, the question is:

What are the “must do’s” or “must haves” to improve your promotion prospects and set yourself up for success?

If your list includes any of these “likely suspects”, you wouldn’t be wrong:

  • Delivering results
  • Having support from your managers
  • Managing your stakeholders well
  • Being seen as a leader
  • Having a sponsor and mentors
  • Being considered “high potential”
  • Having a high profile
  • Demonstrating your loyalty (or demonstrating you have a competing offer!)

In fact, you’d be in good company. These are all things I’ve heard from promotion candidates and the people who advise them.

But there are also a few answers I don’t hear nearly as much, even though they’re essential to getting to the next promotion level. In my experience, you’ll struggle to get promoted without having these as your foundation… no matter how great you are at your job.

I call these the “often overlooked” essentials of getting promoted, and I want to share three of them with you so you can be better prepared.

3 Often Overlooked Essentials for Landing a Job Promotion

1. Adopting the Right Mindset for Promotion

Your mindset – the way you frame a situation and the lens through which you look at the world – affects your behavior and performance. And your mindset is always in your control.

If you think you can’t attain something, you’re unlikely to take action and the result will be just as you predicted. On the flip side, if you see something as an interesting challenge or a learning opportunity, you’re likely to dive in and give it your best effort.

This is why it’s so important to adopt the right mindset about your promotion.

In my career, I’ve experienced both extremes. Sometimes feeling like “I don’t deserve it, I’m not good enough,” and other times having a sense of entitlement, as in “It’s my turn. I’ve been waiting a long time and they owe it to me.” Both mindsets present a problem because they lead to not taking constructive action, or any action at all.

Instead, it’s essential to have a mindset that brings you confidence and encourages you to take all the steps you can think of to land your next promotion. Adopting the right mindset is key to how you present yourself and your level of confidence.

When you frame your promotion in a constructive way, it’ll be easier to let go of the outcome, enjoy your work and be at your best. All of which are helpful to your promotion prospects.

What’s your mindset about promotion, and what might be a more energizing mindset to adopt?

2. Having the Conversations About Promotion

I used to think that if I kept my head down, worked hard and did excellent work, then I would get promoted. If only that were true. While that might work for your first promotion or two, it’s not a strategy you can rely on for the medium or longer term.

Yet so many people make the mistake of thinking that doing the job is the priority, and miss the key concept that promoting yourself and speaking up for your future success path is also part of the job. This is especially common for women. And I was one of those people too. 

I still remember toiling away at my desk when the other three people at my level (all men) were in the big boss’s office making it known that they wanted the promotion. They were having what turned out to be crucial conversations while I dismissed the activity as pathetic “sucking up” or blatant lobbying that couldn’t possibly work.

Wrong again.

What I learned is this: it’s a mistake to keep your ambitions and aspirations a secret.

Managers are not mind readers. You must have the conversations to let them know what you want and why it matters to you. Most managers even expect you to tell them. And for some, it’s the way they gauge your level of interest in promotion.

For a manager, it can even feel risky to pound the table for someone who seems indifferent about rising in the organization.

Are you having the right conversations with the right people at the right times? Who do you need to speak to and when? What will you say and how will you say it?

These are crucial to get right if you want to get the promotion you want and deserve.

3. Having a Plan for Promotion

One of my favorite quotes is “Chance favors the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur). When it comes to your promotion, this means investing the time to think strategically about your promotion and career.

The busier you are and the more important the promotion is, the more you need to identify the steps you want to take. It will help you greatly to understand what you need to do, when you need to do it, and why it matters.

When you have a plan, you’re able to prepare the ground with confidence and maximize your chances. You’ll know how to take advantage of unexpected situations and turn them into opportunities. You’ll be ready to have the right conversations in the right way.

Without a game plan for your promotion, it’s hard to know whether you’re on the right track and whether you’ve done everything you can do. And that can lead to regrets later, especially if things don’t go your way.

Your promotion plan doesn’t have to be elaborate. You just need to have one.

What’s your game plan for putting yourself in the best possible position to get a promotion? How will you hold yourself accountable for executing on it and taking the steps you know you need to take?

Give Yourself the Best Chance to Succeed

I remember the time when a colleague was told he was “on the list” for promotion to partner, but when the announcement came out the next morning his name wasn’t there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a typo.

There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to promotions. So if promotions feel challenging and uncertain, it’s because they are.

But when you get in the right mindset, have the right conversations and have a plan, you’ll greatly improve your chances of getting the promotion you want.

Investing time and energy in these three aspects now will put you in a far stronger position later… and it will put your mind at ease to know you’ve done all you can in the process.

Which of these three often overlooked aspects do you struggle with, and which can most help you land your next promotion if you focus on it now?

Leave a comment and let me know.