Job talk: How to get that first promotion

Millennials, more than any previous generation, are accustomed to speed. That applies as much to their careers as elsewhere in their life. The stereotype — fair or not — is that they enter the workforce ready for their first promotion on day one. But for many young workers that step up is the hardest. The path forward is not always clearly marked.

Here are some points to consider outside of a good work ethic and quality work.

Seek advice from peers.
“Build a team around you.” said Saurab Bhargava a VP at Isobar. Talking to others might not directly lead to a new job or promotion, but it will help you focus. Many of your peers may be closer than you are, and have already learned key steps at your workplace to get promoted. A transparent dialogue with colleagues your age is more likely to yield practical advice, and give you a good idea when to expect to move on to the next role. Leadership might be hesitant to give a time frame because they are worried they will make employees false promises.

Know what your company values.
“Understand the company’s process. What does your company value the most?” said Bhargava. For every company, different attributes are weighed differently. Some may value your quality of skills, while others might care more about one’s desire to improve and grow. It can be frustrating if you continue to thrive in ways that will not be appreciated at the company you are at.

Study those with the job you want.
“One way to think about it making your next move is to look around and find the job you want. Who’s in it, and what skills and experience do they have, and how did they get there?” said one VP at American Express. Doing this helps you frame the move in a tangible series of next steps. Everyone’s path is different, but it is always beneficial to study the blueprint that has proved to be successful.

Keep an open mind about other teams or new opportunities elsewhere.
“Opportunities come from places you might least expect it, they also might not always fit into your perfect vision or plan.” said a director at American Express. Millennials are gaining a reputation of moving around early and often in their career. This is now the norm, and shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a negative. Wanting to succeed where you are and remain loyal to your employer can be an admirable trait, but it can also become quite limiting. There isn’t always an opening on your team or even in your company. Looking elsewhere will also give you perspective of what matters to you the most, and the worth you have in today’s market. What matters most to you could be the work environment, the type of work, or even just the compensation.

Don’t wait until you feel 100 percent ready for the next role.
“When looking for a job, find a job that you are confident in 50 percent of the role, but know the other 50 percent will challenge and grow you,” said Alice Milligan, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Citi. If you wait until you feel 100 percent ready for a job, most likely you have already outgrown that job as well. This will stunt your career growth, and most likely you have been unmotivated and uninspired at your current job for some time.

Let your boss know your goal is to be promoted.
“Make your intentions known. Talk to your leaders, let them know you want opportunities that will help you prove your ability,” said Isobar’s Bhargava. Speak up, no one is going to know what you want from your career but you. It is important to share these things with you direct leader. It could be six months or even a year before you are looking for a change. Letting your boss know your goals will only help them point out the things you need to grow in. This will also encourage them to stretch you and give you responsibilities that will help highlight the skills you need for the next job you desire.

Check out these great new jobs from the Digiday jobs board.

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