This article was updated on August 13, 2021.
Before envying coworkers who seem to have it so easy when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, pay attention to their habits. People who get promoted all the time don’t just get lucky. If you deconstruct their approach, you’ll notice there are replicable patterns in the way they perceive their worth, take action and interact with others.
“Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act rightly because we are excellent. In fact, we achieve excellence by acting rightly,” said ancient philosopher Plato. Let these wise words inspire you to learn from the things people who advance fast in their careers do differently so you can consistently apply these learnings in your own career. You’ll be reaching your goals in no time.
They deeply understand their own value
Those who get promoted all the time understand their own value, according to Vanessa McDonald, creator of The Brave Journal, a 10-week planning, productivity, and emotions-based goal-setting system for a career transformation. “It starts with our own assessment of self-worth,” she says.
How secure do you feel about your skills and contributions? Are you super aware of your strengths as well as your areas of improvement? Having a profound understanding of what you bring to the table is the first step towards being the kind of person who scores promotion after promotion.
They ask before being offered
Steve Jobs famously said the one thing that separates those who dream from those who achieve is the simple act of asking. McDonald agrees: “A person who tends to get promoted tends to be the one who asks for it over someone who discounts themselves.”
Professionals who climb the corporate ladder at lightning speed don’t wait for their bosses to offer them advancement opportunities. They are proactive about their career development and are not afraid to regularly start conversations about new challenges and next steps.
They bring more solutions than problems
“[People who get promoted] make the job of their manager/director easy. They make themselves indispensable to the team or organization, but not as silent sufferers — as the ones who are bringing solutions and making their boss look good. More often than not, they are operating in the role that they want rather than the one that they have,” says McDonald.
Think two steps ahead, bring more solutions than problems and watch yourself become a magnet for career opportunities.
They often think about what they want
According to McDonald, a lot of professionals are not clear about what they want. “It’s not about the title or compensation. But make sure you know how you want to spend your days, the kind of work you would ideally like to be doing and how you want to spend your time,” she says.
She recommends regularly checking in with yourself to make sure you are intentional about the right next moves for you. “Taking time to do this review on a yearly or even mid-year basis can be the difference between those who make their career happen and those who have a job and circumstances that happen to them.
They are kind and easy to get along with
Think people who get ahead fast are cut-throat opportunists who are always ready to throw others under the bus? Think again: That stereotype can only take you so far.
“The subtle quality that is often discounted is that people who get promoted tend to be the same people that are well-liked in a company. We hire and keep those we want around us. Despite the general perception, you will find that the nicest people do rise to the top, they have the quality of being easy to get along with and enjoyable to work with, which is how they learn about opportunities to grow,” says McDonald. “You tend to feel good around people who are successful in this way. Of course, there are always the ones who step on others to rise, but they don’t tend to last too long at the top.”
They don’t wait for opportunities to come to them
If you want to move fast, you can’t wait for an opportunity to show up. You have to be the kind of person who creates opportunities over and over again. This is what differentiates people who get promoted all the time from those who don’t, according to McDonald.
“They seek opportunities out, they create them and, when they do appear, they jump. In my own career, I noticed this with those who were excellent employees yet didn’t seem to get the same promotion opportunities as others. More often than not, the difference boiled down to the willingness to take a risk and take action,” she says.