Hard Work Alone Won't Win You the Promotion

Two men looking at books

As a career coach clients seek out my advice on how best to advance in their careers. All too often I hear them say “I work hard, put in long hours, and do everything that’s asked of me, so why shouldn’t I get a promotion, or at least a pay raise?” Unfortunately, companies don’t give out promotions or raises if you’re simply doing more of what you’re currently being paid to do.

Companies will consider rewarding you for the value you add to their organization. There’s a big difference between saying “I get to work early each morning, stay late, and hardly take a lunch break” and saying “Over the last year-end quarter I was able to save the company $50K in operating expenses by redesigning our vendor selection process.” Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and it’s pretty evident which approach wins you the promotion.

So what are key ingredients in positioning yourself for that next promotion or pay raise? Below are four (4) steps you can take to ensure your requests are taken seriously:

Become Knowledgeable in More Than One Area of Your Organization:

  • Learn as much as you can about your and other areas’ departmental structure, key players, issues, challenges and culture.

  • Know how other departments interface with your department, and get your work to better align with the goals of the company at large.

  • Establish relationships with others where there can be a mutual interest between what you do in your respective roles.

  • Prepare to meet with others and take on the role of consultant by taking notes and sharing aspects of your work that could add value to their areas.

Prepare to take on the role of consultant

Formulate a Plan of Action:

  • Have a current resume, LinkedIn profile, and outline of your objectives in meeting with someone. Your meetings need to have a purpose.

  • Take on volunteer assignments in other areas of your department or company, especially areas that can offer promotional or advancement potential.

  • Attend professional association meetings that others in your organization attend.

  • Obtain any required credentials or certifications that are necessary for your advancement.

  • Find a mentor who is willing to support you in your efforts, and can also have influence with the company’s senior management.

Market Yourself:

  • Position yourself on your resume, LinkedIn profile and other social media for the type of job or level of responsibility that you’re seeking.

  • List your key accomplishments that are relevant and would be of interest to those in other departments.

  • Write a “white paper” or share information on projects, initiatives that would be of interest to a wider audience.


  • Follow-up every meeting with a letter, email or phone call by reinforcing your understanding of the issues, challenges and expectations of those whom you meet.

  • Re-connect with those whom you met earlier to keep the relationship current. This should not be a one-and-done situation.

It should go without saying that while you’re currently employed you need to keep the focus on your own job responsibilities, and use discretion in meeting with others outside your department. Often managers of other departments will meet with you before or after your normal working hours, or if you do business with these people it should not be difficult to meet with them at times you normally would.

One final caveat. Meeting with others throughout your company should be viewed as information gathering meetings. Do not presume the manager with whom you’re meeting has an open job with your name on it. These meeting should be viewed as networking opportunities. Believe me, if people see you as someone who can bring value to their areas it will only be a matter of time before those promotional opportunities will present themselves.

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