How to Advance in a Company

Too often, good employees fail to move up in an organization simply because they do not pursue advancement.
Too often, good employees fail to move up in an organization simply because they do not pursue advancement.

A small percentage of people in this world are lucky enough to be born rich. Even fewer manage to hit the lottery or somehow fall into large sums of cash. Generally speaking, the rest of us have to rely on good old-fashioned hard work if we want to get ahead. Unfortunately, not everyone who works hard will be rewarded for it. In addition to being dedicated and having the right skills, there are some important steps to take if you want to advance in an organization.

In your quest for professional promotion, the first stop should be your human resources or staffing department. Find out everything you can about the culture and values of your organization, so you can be sure you're towing the company line. Equally important as you step onto the corporate ladder is having a strong sense of your own abilities and what you want to achieve.

Before pursuing a promotion, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your current position aligned with your career goals?
  • Do you possess skills that aren't being fully utilized?
  • Is something holding you back from achieving your goals (e.g., lack of a degree or specific training)?
  • What is your dream job (realistically)?

You also should talk to as many people in your company as possible. Find out how they advanced in the organization and whether they would be willing to serve as your mentor. If you're unsure of your career goals, these inquiries may give you valuable ideas. They may also open doors for working with people who are in a position to help you rise.

Another important consideration before asking for a promotion is whether you have improved the bottom line in your organization. Higher-ups tend to look very fondly on those who manage to increase productivity, generate new revenue or find ways to save money (especially in a down economy). But no matter how you do it, the trick is to demonstrate your value before you ask for a bigger slice of the company pie [source: Forbes]. Read on for more tips on impressing your company's leadership.