My friend Jenny Blake, who works at Google and just came out with her first book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want, sent along these tips for newly minted college grads. I couldn't have said it better myself!
1. Don’t just focus on promotion as an end in itself.
It’s like losing weight: you can either focus solely on the number on the scale or on getting healthy overall. Getting healthy has many more fringe benefits. Similarly, don’t just focus on the promotion itself. Focus more on the competencies, expectations and behaviors that will lead to a promotion; you’ll be better off in the long run, happier and most likely get there faster.
2. Think of your career like a smart phone, not a ladder.
Build a strong foundation and don’t be afraid of horizontal moves; if a lateral move leads to greater happiness and productivity, it’s probably worth it in the long run. Even better? Think of your career like your smart phone -- take responsibility for downloading various apps (skills, classes, experiences and 10-20% projects) that will make you a valuable asset to any team.
3. Know what you are working toward; ask for more responsibility not just a promotion.
Get a clear understanding of what success looks like -- ask your manager: in 3-6 months, what would you love to see me doing? What else could I be doing to operate at the next level? It’s a common refrain that people generally have to already be operating at the next level before getting promoted. Keep asking for more responsibility instead of just asking for a promotion.
4. Be an observer.
Pay attention to people who have been recently promoted or who work in the level above you. What skills, experiences and attitudes do they have? Bonus: schedule them for lunch and ask!
5. Ditch any entitlement.
You may think you deserve a promotion (and you might be ready) but also be aware that a lot of the time people think they deserve promotions earlier than their managers do. Be willing to compromise and remember that it often depends on many factors outside of your job performance alone (for example: the economy, other people in the company, open roles, etc).