Ask a Career Coach: I Want a Promotion, But I Don't Know How to Get Noticed at My Large Company

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Hi Anna,

I’ve been working at my organization for nine months now, and it’s is my first job post-grad. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, but while I’ve learned a lot, I’m getting antsy—I feel ready to take my skills to the next level.

I work for a large company, one that provides tons of opportunity for professional development, but I’m afraid that I’ll slip through the cracks and be stuck in my current position for a long time.

I honestly don’t know how I can get my name noticed because so many of my colleagues are talented and successful; they’re also interested in the same opportunities as me. I would love to know if you have advice for how I can make myself stand out.

How can I show my initiative, drive, and passion for the field against those who may have been here longer or who have more experience? I look forward to hearing from you!

Signed,
Longing to Get Noticed

Dear Longing to Get Noticed,

I am so glad you’re taking responsibility for your own career success because the fact is successful people create this for themselves—it doesn’t just miraculously happen.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine where you need to focus your efforts to get ahead and get noticed:

1. Does Your Manager Know You Want Growth Opportunities?

People aren’t mind readers, and you can’t expect your manager to know that you’re eager to advance your career as soon as humanly possible. Not everyone wants to be in a leadership role or climb the ladder, or even stay at one company for a long period, so it’s essential that you communicate your desire to move up and grow to your boss.

If the Answer Is “No”

Set up a meeting with your manager, explain that you feel prepared for greater responsibility and more challenges, and ask what you need to do to get promoted

And be open to feedback. If your boss doesn’t have the exact reaction you’re hoping for, that’s OK. The important thing is that you’ve expressed your commitment and ambition—you may have a good deal more work to do before a promotion is on the table.

2. How Many People Do You Know Within Your Company?

You can’t get promoted if no one knows you. Typically, your boss only has so much control over how and when you advance to the next level. If you haven’t gotten comfortable with the humblebrag, now’s the time.

Just because your team’s aware of your hard work, it doesn’t mean the people at the top are. Even if your manager’s fully on board to promote you, if none of the higher-ups who need to approve it know who you are, you probably won’t get very far.

If Your Answer Is “Very Few”

You need to strategically build your network—yes, in house!—and get to know as many people at your company as you can. It’s not enough to be close with your department. So, reach out to various members of the organization to grab a coffee. Developing relationships with people on different teams (or with your boss’s boss) is key to getting your name out there.

3. Are You Providing Extra Value to Your Company or Are You Just Doing Your Current Job?

Have you brought in new clients or additional revenue? How about helped the company grow? Being prepared to present your accomplishments when seeking a promotion is required. And if you’re concerned that you don’t yet have anything impressive to show off, dig deeper: You don’t have to wait for your company’s permission to learn a new skill or tackle a problem that’s not a part of your day-to-day work.

If Your Answer Is “I Don’t Think So”

Review your company’s revenue goals and determine how your job plays into its increases—never underestimate the bottom line. Then, determine actions you can take to increase that number. Can you draw up a fresh client pitch? Discover a new way to grow brand awareness? No matter what your job is, there’s almost always something you can do to make a difference in the big picture goals.

If you give it time and still find that there’s no upward movement—or, worse, that someone else snagged a promotion you were eyeing, you may want to explore opportunities elsewhere. But if you like your company, you should definitely try the suggestions above before just calling it quits.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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