When managers choose who to promote into an open position, it isn't always cut and dry – in fact, the decision can get quite complex and involves a great deal more than how hard you worked over the past year. Here are seven considerations leaders tangle with when deciding who'd be the best candidate to take over the bigger office.
- History of job performance and leadership. Promoting an employee can be a risky for the organization, and for the hiring manager who stakes his or her reputation on your success. A strong track record of previous promotions, solid-to-excellent end of year appraisals, and consistently outstanding performance metrics will eliminate doubts that you intend to work hard to learn and succeed in your the newly elevated responsibilities.
- Mastery of the essential skills. This can include extensive knowledge of the technical aspects of the people you'd be managing. But not always. This can also refer to the intangibles - leadership skills, business acumen, financial knowledge, personal accountability, likeability, and the such. Keep in mind, it would be impossible at large organizations for CEOs to haven't performed each function under their purview before getting the top job – what matters is their ability to set strategy and to motivate, lead, and derive performance from the organization. Remember to work on developing your soft skills in additional to your technical skills.
- Perception of readiness. It's important to convey a compelling vision of your success in the new role. If the organization doesn't think you're ready to take on more responsibility, they will most certainly not promote you. Scheduling conversations with your manager to determine what skills you need to get to the next level can help, as can building a development plan and having regular career "check-ins" to discuss your progress.
- Ambition. This goes beyond working harder and longer, which is generally a good idea for aspiring leaders. Make abundantly clear to your manager that you want to be promoted, and that you wish to be considered for more challenging roles. Many individuals get a promotion because they explicitly ask for the job. Managers may overlook the employee who doesn't explicitly ask for a promotion out of concern that they wouldn't want the extra responsibility and related baggage.
- Timing and Urgency. If a position is open, it's a critical function, and the organization will experience a great deal of pain if nobody is in the role, the executive team is going to work quickly to plug the hole. If you have the right skills at the moment they need them, you could be the solution to their problem.
- Internal politics. Your boss may love you and think you'd be ideal for the job, but there are often other factors at play. Perhaps there are other, more senior members of the team who would bristle at having you as their manager. Maybe his boss doesn't like you, or would rather hire the son of his golfing buddy.
- How similar promotions have been handled in the past. Past trends can be strong predictors. What if the last four people to be promoted had six years of experience, but you only have three years of tenure? Or, everyone else who has held the role was a finance major ( you studied music)? While it's not impossible to change perceptions such as these, it can be a challenge.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.