You have done the work for the promotion, but it does not happen. Now what?

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I do love hearing from my readers. They ask pretty good questions. This one came in today:

“In order to be promoted, one must already be doing the work required in the promotion.” But what if, say, you’ve been doing the extra work for two years and the promotion has yet to be offered? In other words, how do you protect yourself from being taken advantage of? Is this just a personal judgment call of keep trying or move on?

I say the part about you need to already be doing the work in the promoted job casually today — because it is a good principle.

But I was reminded from the question that I originally thought this principle was a sham. Why?

You’re doing the work, but not getting paid for it. You’re expending a great amount of effort above and beyond your job description, but not getting any recognition for it.

And, fundamentally, it’s not your job and not in your job description.

Which begs the question: Why should you do the work of someone in a position that is a promotion that you’re not getting paid to do.

You should do it because it is Cubicle Warrior thinking and strategy. There are two big reasons for doing the work.

You find out how serious your company is about promoting from within

I always talk about building your skills. This effort is a skill building effort. If your company is willing to train you (or ask you) to fulfill the job responsibilities of a position that, to you, is a promotion, that’s a great opportunity to build your skills.

The flip side of that is your company – if you really are demonstrating the skills and accomplishments of a person in that promoted position — needs to promote you. If they don’t, then your management is really taking advantage of your skills and abilities — and not giving you either the title nor the pay for doing the work.

To be clear: you need to have the skills and have accomplishments doing the work. This is not a I’m-screwed-they-won’t-promote-me situation where you think you’re doing the work but really using the situation as an excuse for a promotion you really don’t deserve (sorry — tough love here).

If you have the skills, have demonstrated accomplishments, and still aren’t getting promoted, well, what does that tell you?

It tells you your company’s management talks a game but doesn’t follow through.

Pick a time frame, but if you have the skills, have accomplishments and don’t get promoted, it’s time to kiss your company goodbye.

If you have the skills and accomplishments in the promoted position, hiring managers will hire you

Apply for the position that is a promotion for you. Not the lateral move.

Did you catch that?

Because you have the skills and accomplishments of a person in the promoted position, you have skills and accomplishments that other hiring managers want to help them achieve their business goals.

So when you decide to leave your company because they won’t promote you, you interview for the position that would have been a promotion for you in your current company. Not interview for a lateral move. But interview for the promotion with other companies.

The beauty of this approach is that not only do you have the skills and accomplishments to show a hiring manager (you do, don’t you?), but you also have the perfect reason for leaving your current company. As in: my company doesn’t have the opportunities for advancement that I’m looking for in a career.

You demonstrated skills for the promotion, had accomplishments using those skills (they are on your resume, right?), and your company failed to promote you. So you want to work in a company where you can demonstrate those skills and help a hiring manager meet business goals.


Learning the skills – and having accomplishments — is the Cubicle Warrior’s best offense

Look, you should always be adding job skills. You need to in order to stay both current and relevant. But having promotable skills and accomplishments using those skills means you are very attractive to other hiring managers.

So figure out if your company is serious about promoting from within. And, if they aren’t, go for the promotion with some other company. Because, as a Cubicle Warrior, you can. It’s the smart move.

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