If you want to get a promotion this summer, that means you’re on the clock. Depending on when you’re reading this, the precious days of sun-fueled serendipity might very well be ticking down, leaving you with just a few months, or weeks, to score the promotion of your dreams. If you read this in the fall or winter, you have more time to prepare, but still not much. Promotions aren’t easy to come by, and they’re usually awarded in measurements of years, meaning securing one by the summer closest to you isn’t a sure bet.
Still, if you’re hellbent on lifting corporate weights until you’re gainfully yolked, there are methods to boost the odds of receiving recognition for your hard work. Here are seven ways to get a promotion this summer—or at least get some positive attention for being a good employee.
Do the jobs that others won’t
It doesn’t matter if you’re employed during a global pandemic summer or an average summer; work is going to be rough either way. It’ll be hot all the time (or freezing cold because your office’s air conditioning is insane), the gorgeous weather outside will make you hate being stuck inside, and just about everyone, from your boss to your coworkers, will likely be experiencing some degree of summer-induced job malaise. This gives you an opportunity.
While everyone else is unenthusiastically slinking around the office avoiding whatever annoying chores and missions your boss has put up on the “to be done” board, you need to seize the day and claim those tasks. You need to jump on the grenade and tackle the objectives none of your coworkers will. If you do this, you’ll stand out as a hero of the office, and your willingness to do whatever needs doing will contrast sharply against your coworkers’ unwillingness to rise to the challenge.
Though it won’t move mountains on its own, if you throw a smile on top of whatever humdrum task you’re doing, it’ll be noticed. Smiling makes the world a nicer place, so do it and it’ll make your office think more positively of you. And when you’re more positively thought of, promotions are bound to find their way to you.
Should you spend all day doing the opposite—i.e., frowning and scowling—then no matter how good you are at your job, your boss likely isn’t going to enjoy your attitude. And your boss definitely won’t be as keen to entrust you with even more work (and the promotions that accompany increased responsibilities) if they think you’re already bitter and resentful with your current load. So turn that frown upside down and tackle every task with an orange peel in your mouth.
Talk the talk
When you’re not vocal about your desire to rise to the top, it stands to reason that no one will hear you. So tell your boss, tell your coworkers, and tell the world at large that you want more opportunities to shine! Ask to take on the bigger fish in the pond. Showing that you’re eager to contribute more to your workplace paints you as an enthusiastic, daring member of the team who might just have what it takes to climb the ladder.
Walk the walk
If you’ve been talking the talk, then you’ll want to… well, you get the idea. Make sure your boss likes the cut of your jib by living up to whatever high standards you set for yourself when requesting bigger and harder tasks. Don’t ask for anything you don’t think you can handle, since then you’ll make a fool of yourself. But if you manage to pull off whatever incredible feats you demanded your boss saddle you with, you’ll look like a king!
One way to look like an employee worthy of a promotion is to remain calm and keep a level head while juggling your daily responsibilities. Though it’s a simple thing, it can go a long way. Remember this old Napoleon quote (as told by Dwight D. Eisenhower) defining military genius as “the man who can do the average thing when all those around him are going crazy.” And if you think military genius isn’t the right line of wisdom to apply to your work, think again! Because you are at war—against people who lack the incentive to give you a promotion. You must aggressively advance until you’ve eradicated all doubt in their minds that you’re the right fit for the next level of your corporation’s hierarchy.
Even if you’re not a Napoleon fan, some Harvard Business School research also has evidence supporting the power of calmness: in a 2016 study, it was found that people who could calm themselves (in this case, via self-prescribed rituals) performed better in high-stress, anxiety-inducing situations. In your case, that situation will be months of not screwing up or losing your cool at work while striving to impress your higher-ups.
Time it: recency bias can be a combo modifier
As long as you’ve been kicking the most ass out of anyone in your immediate competition pool, your boss will hopefully remember your efforts when it comes time to reward promotions. To help ensure your contributions have been remembered, though, it might help to strategically time them. Start your aggressive hustling a couple of months in advance and work relentlessly when you smell promotion season on the horizon. And don’t forget that there is, very much, a specific season you should be targeting: summer!
According to Ian Cook, Visier Analytics’ head of workforce solutions, summer has a lot of utility for promotion-minded employees.
“Promotions typically follow a performance review cycle, such as reviews in the winter, and raises and promotions locked in during the second quarter,” Cook says. He then explains that once autumn comes around, your window of opportunity has likely passed. “In the fall, companies tend to take stock of the year-to-date and complete a financial wrap-up. […] Due to this cycle, internal promotions are not top-of-mind for employers. Alternatively, they are focused on how to best prepare the company for the future year.”
Ways to get a promotion this summer, in summary
Always remember that if you don’t ask for something, the likelihood of receiving it is very low. So stick your neck out and brave the odds with your employer if you have months of solid work in the rear-view mirror to back you up.
In the event, you haven’t built up enough goodwill and your boss rejects your promotion request, consider your options. You can ask your employer to tell you what it takes to reach the next level, and then strive for that goal. Or, if you feel you’ve been disrespected, you can always quit and try to find a promotion with a different employer, in the form of a better job.