No Shame in Self-Promotion

SAN MATEO (05/01/2000) - The path to promotion can be precarious; if you're not careful, you may stumble and end up losing ground. But take calculated steps, and you'll be well on your way.

Want to get promoted? There's no shame in trying to get ahead, especially if you've been working the same job in your company for some time. But time-tested wisdom shows there are right ways and wrong ways to go about ascending the corporate ladder. Here are some pointers from career development experts.

1. Know what you want, how to get it

Having a vague notion that you want a promotion is not enough to get one, according to Tim Roemer, manager of individual services at Career Development Services, in Rochester, New York. "You need to be able to figure out where you want to go within that organization. 'What do I want to be promoted into? Why do I think I'm qualified to do that?' " he says. You may need to bolster your skill set to be in the running for the position you seek. When you do work to improve your skills, do it in a way that speaks to where you want to go, he says.

2. Make yourself known

Marilyn Condon, senior consultant at Minneapolis-based Personnel Decisions International, says that employees seeking promotions should reach out and network, both to learn about their companies and to make themselves known.

"[They should] just go and talk with people that they're not necessarily working with -- perhaps the business-unit manager for whom they are creating software applications. Set up a coffee date or an informal lunch and just ask people what their goals are, what are they doing," she says.

"Volunteer for a project inside your organization," Roemer adds. "That will allow you to gain exposure and to use some skills that will be good to develop or at least to showcase."

3. State your intentions

Don't wait around for the powers that be to offer you a promotion, says Heather Stone, president of, in Salt Lake City. "If you don't ask, you won't get it," she says. "Ask in a polite, intelligent manner that shows you're aware of the business's needs but that you feel like you're putting in a lot of value and will be able to contribute even more."

4. Sell yourself

Stone recommends that you share a "probable action result story," or PARS, that outlines actions you took to solve a specific problem. Doing so will accentuate your strengths. "Your boss does not know the specifics of how good the positive was, but you can bet they know the specifics of how bad the negative was," she says.

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