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Career tips

Expert tips: This is how your promotion works

Gone are the days when a promotion was just a matter of time . Those who sat long enough at their post and did their job reasonably well climbed the career ladder. Today, very few people stay with one company for their entire life. And hardly anyone is automatically promoted anymore. An active career strategy is therefore required.

“Of course there are very different mechanisms and cultures in every industry and in different companies,” explains career advisor Svenja Hofert . Career paths in many management consultancies, for example, are heavily regulated. “They are a little less mapped out in companies in which active personnel development takes place, i.e. employees are specifically sent to seminars and training courses.” And then there are still companies in which clear personnel management does not seem to exist at all. Smart self-marketing and a creative strategy are particularly important there.

“It’s like a sales pitch, you have to convince the boss,” says career coach Theo Bergauer. It is also about formulating: How does the company benefit from promoting me? But the conversation with the boss is pretty much at the end of the planning. “It usually takes a lot longer than the conversation itself,” says Bergauer.

First of all there is networking: “In order to understand the culture of a company in particular, it is important to be in contact with the right colleagues,” says Svenja Hofert. This includes thinking about who to go to the canteen with and how to behave towards bosses, even if they meet by chance in the hallway. “Body language is an important point.” Those who shy away from direct eye contact with their superiors and only greet them in shame are signaling distance. “That way a boss will certainly not notice you,” warns Hofert.

It is not enough to do a good job. “If everything works, why should the boss move me to another position?”, Hofert points out. You have to convince your line manager that you can do even more. “Usually you are not discovered,” says Hofert. Rather, you have to formulate clearly what you can and want. “The job is usually not fair, you have to go to the Bütt yourself,” adds coach and psychologist Tom Diesbrock from Hamburg.

In many companies there are target agreement discussions for this. If there is none, you have to ask the boss for an appointment. Under no circumstances should you just express your wish for a promotion in passing, warns Diesbrock. It is important to prepare a logical chain of arguments and to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses: “The questions should be, what can I do and what do these qualifications and skills bring to the company?” Explains Bergauer. You have to be honest with yourself – and also ask yourself whether you really want to be responsible for the position you are aiming for.

Also learn from a refused promotion

In order to be able to assess this better, it is often helpful to ask outsiders how they see you. “You learn how you actually affect other people, how they rate you,” says Diesbrock. It is also important to consider your own successes and formulate clear ideas . “It is very smart to ask yourself where you will see yourself in five years and to communicate that,” says Diesbrock. This also demonstrates to the supervisor that you want to develop.
And it is important to be prepared for the “worst case” . “If the boss says, ‘I can’t see you there,’ you have to ask what is still missing,” advises Diesbrock. One should be able to endure a possibly sobering answer. Instead of running away, it is important to go on the offensive and pass the ball to the other person: “What can I do?” Is a possible counter-question. It is also important to nail down the boss as much as possible: “If there is a promotion stop, you can still ask for clear prospects.”

A simulated conversation should also be part of the preparation for the conversation. “You are at least roughly in the situation there, and there may be unexpected answers, questions or comments that then train,” says Bergauer. One should not underestimate the time immediately before the actual conversation with the boss. “You can’t just do it, so you should make sure that you are in a positive mood , that you are focused and that you don’t just come from another appointment,” advises Bergauer.

Making a career is not rocket science. This includes effort, a lot of self-reflection, a little skill . “And of course also professional qualifications,” says Hofert. “You rarely fall up by yourself.”

Service info: You can get more tips for your career in our large collection of articles on this topic.

And if you’d rather reorient yourself – for your search for a job at an exciting company, the XING job market offers the best overview of attractive vacancies. You can start your research right here. I wish you success.


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