How to Become the Best Candidate for a Promotion

Become indispensable, enlist the help of your supporters and prove you are able to grow and learn to put yourself at the head of the promotion line.

Published on Feb. 08, 2024
How to Become the Best Candidate for a Promotion
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
Brand Studio Logo

Promotions are difficult to navigate. When you are a woman, there is an added layer of complexity because there are not enough women in leadership roles. 

This can hurt in two ways. First, it makes you doubt your ability to get promoted because you don’t see leaders like you. Second, because the decision makers and influencers responsible for promoting don’t see women in leadership roles, they don’t automatically think of women when there is an opening for a promotion.

4 Ways to Nab That Promotion

  1. Become essential to your company’s success.
  2. Build a leadership brand for yourself.
  3. Demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow.
  4. Ask your bosses, mentors and other connections for help.

Despite these hurdles, you can unlock the doors to your next promotion by becoming the best possible candidate. Start by knowing you are worthy of getting promoted and you can blaze the trail even if no other women are in leadership roles in your company. Then show up to work every day as if you are interviewing for your promotion by focusing on the following four things.

More From Shelmina AbjiWant to Grow This Year? Step Outside Your Comfort Zone


Become Essential to Your Organization

Structure your days around your highest priorities. This will ensure you make meaningful progress each day. Before you begin each day, every meeting and every critical conversation, set an intention of creating unique value at your maximum capacity in all your interactions. If you are not intentional, you will end up being on autopilot moving from one task to another. You will be busy but not as productive as you can possibly be.

By being intentional about creating value on your maximum capacity in all your interactions, you will consistently and predictably create value that far exceeds what is expected of you. Furthermore, when you lean into your authenticity, your value cannot be replicated by anyone else. You become difficult to replace, which puts you in a position of power to negotiate a promotion.

An added bonus is to create value outside your current role toward the success of your boss and towards the success of your organization. 


Build a Leadership Brand

What people say about you when they are discussing your promotion will determine the outcome. Become known as a respected and capable leader in terms of your business expertise as well as your personal attributes.

Determine the brand of the leaders you respect and admire. Also, look at the leaders in the role you are aspiring to and determine how they are known. Combine these with your own unique characteristics that have made you successful in your career to create your aspirational leadership brand.

At work every day, leave impressions that are aligned with your aspirational leadership brand in every interaction, whether it’s a casual interaction, an in-person or virtual meeting, social media engagement, email exchange, phone conversation or any other means of communication. The way you approach situations and people, your attitude, your big decisions and small actions, your integrity, your values, what you stand for and what you will and won’t accept must all be aligned with your aspirational leadership brand.

While your personal brand is formed by other people based on the impressions you leave, remember that it’s not about agonizing over what people think about you. Instead, it’s about intentionally becoming the person you want to be known as. And it’s definitely not about pretending to be someone you aren’t. That would be exhausting and inauthentic. Your brand has to be authentic in order for it to work long term.


Demonstrate Growth Potential 

Every new role you step into will require competencies beyond your current competencies for you to be successful at it. While you are not expected to have all the competencies required, you are expected to have demonstrated your ability to learn new competencies and grow.

The fastest way to learn new competences is by seeking opportunities that force you outside your comfort zone and are scary. They will teach you competencies you don’t currently have and increase your confidence. This strategy also demonstrates self-trust because it shows you are taking a chance on yourself. The world takes you at your own estimation. If you don’t take a chance on yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to.

When you are outside your comfort zone, after you give something your best shot, ask for help from your boss, peers or mentors when needed. Asking for help is a sign of confidence and also gives you visibility. 

When you complete a role that pushes you outside your comfort zone, pause and reflect upon the experience. Remember how scared you were when you started the role and celebrate yourself for figuring it out. Reflect upon the growth you experienced. This will increase your confidence in taking on assignments that will push you even further outside your comfort zone.

climb that ladderHow to Ask for a Promotion

Ask Your Supporters for Help

Every promotion has decision makers and influencers. They can advocate for you and support your efforts to be promoted. Make a list of these people. Add your previous and current bosses, mentors, sponsors and other connections who are decision makers for promotions in your organization. 

Then narrow the list down to the top three to five people you believe can help you the most. Set up meetings with each with the objective to share your ambition to get promoted and ask what you need to demonstrate to be considered for the promotion. Listen to, learn from and implement their guidance.

Businesses have recognized that diversity in leadership roles affects business outcomes and improves their reputations. So once you become essential to the success of your organization, build your leadership brand and have demonstrated growth potential, the decision makers and influencers should advocate and support you. 

Hiring Now
Consumer Web • eCommerce • Marketing Tech • Retail • Software • Analytics • Generative AI