The Job Coaches: Learn company’s ropes to get promoted

Jane PerdueQ: Someone else got the promotion at work I was hoping and working for. I’m feeling angry and disappointed. What do I do?

A: Feeling let down is a normal reaction when you are passed over for a promotion. It’s OK to be disappointed, but monitor your emotions. Coming across negatively won’t help your chances for future opportunities. To understand why you did not get the job, take a look at yourself and your current work situation and answer some challenging questions.

Do I have the right technical skills? Ask your boss what knowledge, skills and/or abilities you lack, either for your current position or the one you were seeking. Create a plan to fill in those competency gaps: volunteer for projects, attend training programs, work with a coach, read books, take classes or ask for a mentor.

Am I known as a team player? While you may have all the right technical skills, how you conduct yourself might be holding you back. What you do AND how you do it are equally important. Do you have a reputation for being difficult? Do people want you involved in their projects? Technical brilliance alone won’t get you promoted. You need sincerity, authenticity, top-notch interpersonal communication skills and the ability to build relationships.

Have I built a solid network? It’s important to be connected with individuals at all levels within the organization: people who know you, know what you do and who actively support you. It’s pretty powerful when someone from another department is talking with your boss and they compliment your work.

Is my work ethic strong? Consider the quality and quantity of your work: do you do just enough to get by, or do you regularly go above and beyond? In these difficult economic times, employers value people who can do more with less.

Do I look like a professional? Hey, we all know the days of the three-piece suit are long gone, but looking clean, neat and appropriate never goes out of style. Observe what senior leaders at your company wear. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job that you want.

Am I visible? All too often, we believe that hard work will take us to the top, but hard work alone isn’t the answer — your boss and others in your company must know about your contributions. Many of us are taught not to brag and feel uncomfortable talking about our accomplishments. The workplace reality is that you need to tactfully tell people; otherwise they may have no idea of your great ideas or output.

Am I aware of my company’s culture? Every company has its own ways of decision-making, rewarding good performance, communicating up and down the ladder, handling conflict, etc. Get plugged in to how work gets done at your company so you are working with the flow, not against it.

Learn from your experience and get better positioned for the next promotion that comes your way.

Jane Perdue is principal/CEO of The Braithewaite Group.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 25, 2009.


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