Dear New Shrink,

I am a young working professional in my early 30s. Throughout my career I have seen several people around me advance their careers quite quickly while I have been passed up for promotional opportunities. I receive strong recognition during my annual performance review and have been a loyal and dependable worker. I am very serious about my career and want to make sure that I am doing things right to show those around me that I am capable of more responsibility. Can you help?


Looking to Advance

Dear Looking to Advance,

There is no single secret formula to secure a promotion, however, the tips below will help you focus your energy in the right direction. At the start it is important that you continue to work hard and remain positive. Consider whether others know about the contributions you have made to various projects. Keeping in close contact with your supervisor and key decision-makers can be a good way to attain proper recognition for your work. Often times those that receive advancement opportunities within a company are the same individuals who are good at self-promotion and highlighting their key accomplishments to other team members.

Make sure others on your team, especially those in a decision-making role, know about your longer-term career plans. Remaining quiet about your goals will keep others from seeing your drive and interest in advancing your career and may indicate that you are happy remaining in your current role. If you work for a large company you might benefit from speaking with HR to learn about professional development programs. If your company is smaller you might ask your department head or supervisor about potential leadership opportunities or recommendations on what they’re looking for in more senior positions. Making your goals known to those around you will show others that you have the drive and desire to take on more responsibility.

Consider those who have received promotions within your current and past companies and analyze the circumstances in which that person was promoted, the personal qualities they exhibited and the qualities of the person making the advancement decision. As you reflect upon the circumstances consider the specific projects that person worked on and their potential exposure to key decision-makers. As you analyze the professional who received the promotion and the professional who approved the promotion, pay attention to the key qualities of that person. Carefully reviewing the circumstances and qualities can be a helpful way to identify which qualities and projects have the best chance of helping you advance your career. Once you’ve identified some of the key characteristics, consider how you can exhibit some of those qualities in the workplace. Your findings may indicate that you need to explore an opportunity to gain a new skill or perhaps speak with your supervisor about securing a place on the teams that will put you in front of key decision-makers within your company.

If you do not already have a mentor within your organization, now would be a perfect time to secure one. Consider others in the company that have secured a position you’re interested in or have received recognition for their work. Having someone else within the company who is interested in supporting you in your career and professional development can be extremely valuable in your success.

You may also find great value in helping to groom a newer professional within your firm. Showing your dedication to the team and those around you are certainly qualities that many management teams look for when making decisions about who to promote. In addition, the newer employees today are likely to be the decision makers within the coming years. Having a strong relationship with as many people in the office as possible will help you attain success.

Keep in mind that securing a promotion is not a passive process. Instead of waiting for a promotional opportunity to fall from the sky, you may fare better by taking an active role and seeking out new opportunities within the company. Consider applying to more senior positions in other divisions of the company. Taking the lead in securing an advancement opportunity might help you land your new opportunity faster.

KATRINA DAVY, M.A., Ed.M, is a professional career counselor who has worked in university and private settings. She holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. Visit her online at Send your questions to All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!

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