How to Get Promoted

Upon reflection of my time at a Big Four consulting firm, I’m proud of how I was able to get promoted early and rank as a top consultant against my peers. Therefore, I’d love to spread my knowledge, so you too can benefit and land that promotion.

The below steps not only made my promotion well-deserved, but also made it easy for the senior execs at my firm to give a resounding “yes” at my year-end review.  

1.     Receive Feedback Early

You should always receive real-time feedback and encourage it from co-workers. This is the best way you can improve your work skills. It goes without saying, but receiving feedback is fruitless unless you make adjustments to improve upon your weaknesses.

This section specifically pertains to setting up a feedback session with your manager and mentor/coach, mid-year, to get a gauge of your work progress. Some firms may require this review session (great!), but if not, this is a great pro-active way to re-establish your goals with your manager and mentor/coach, speak to your contributions, and learn what areas you still need to improve upon. If the company isn’t open to feedback dialogue nor providing guidance, you may have to seek work elsewhere.

Be prepared for your mid-year review meeting with a printed copy of your accomplishments to-date, your goals for the next six months, and areas you want to improve. Bring two copies so you can offer it to your manager and mentor/coach. After the meeting, you can email a version of this document to your manager for safe-keeping. It is important to note that it is okay to communicate that you would like to get promoted at the end of the year. That way your manager and mentor/coach can better assist in providing you feedback and let you know if it is a feasible goal. 

2.     Perform at the Next Level

It’s difficult to get promoted if you are not already performing at the next level. That’s why it is important to read over the job requirements for the promotion, if you have access to them. Check-off the requirements you are already meeting and highlight the requirements you need to meet. Then, under each of the highlighted requirements, jot down at least two ways you are going to show that you are fulfilling this requirement. This step is crucial and can prove to be quite difficult.

For instance, some opportunities may not exist that the job requirement is describing (e.g., manage a team). There’s a few ways of fulfilling this requirement…

  • You can communicate to your manager and mentor/coach that you would like the opportunity to practice managing an associate. Best case – They agree and find an available resource. But, if they don’t, you’re not helpless.

  • You can sign up for internal business resource groups (BRGs) and try to take on leadership positions (e.g., Head of Women’s Consulting Network).

  • If no BRG exists, start one yourself with the approval of upper management.

  • Lastly, you can join external organizations (e.g., volunteering groups) to try to take on management positions.

3.     Apply What You Learned

Execute. Execute. Execute. It’s hard work, but now it is time to work on your areas of improvement identified in your mid-year feedback discussion. Also, work on each and every job requirement you are not meeting at the next level.

4.     Schedule Year-End Review Meetings

This is when you get to showcase your improvements and accomplishments to not only your manager and coach/mentor, but also to the additional senior executives (e.g., director) who will be deciding your promotion. Again, be prepared for these meetings with a summary of your value-add the entire year, your previous points of weakness that you have since improved by doing XYZ, and how you are currently meeting the job requirements of the next level. When putting together your one-page summary, try to use similar language that is used to describe the next level. Also, keep in mind the audience is more senior for this meeting, so keep your summary sharp and concise, which means lots of practice before the meeting.

Best of luck! You got this!