Over the years, Rick Gillis, author of PROMOTE! It’s Who Knows What You Know that Makes a Career, has counseled job seekers and studied the phenomenon called employment. Seeking advanced knowledge, he scaled a great office building. (OK, he used the elevator!) At the peak, he met a wise, old, retired human resources professional who shared a sage piece of career wisdom with him. The HR professional said that, unknown to most mortals, before you turn 30, the corporation you work for has already determined if you are to be groomed for management or if your career will be, effectively, stalled. And more, these employees will never know that this has occurred because they will continue to receive attaboy’s and an occasional raise but never again will they be significantly promoted.
Gillis says he has learned that the wise, old HR professional spoke the truth — as he understood it. What he did not know, and what Gillis has discovered doing battle with the demons of advancement, is that there is a universal solution to this dilemma and mere mortals can learn and become proficient at professional personal promotion on the job.
In this slideshow, Gillis shares his advice on how to overcome this obstacle by promoting yourself on the job.
Professional Personal Promotion
Click through for more on how to overcome a stalled career through professional personal promotion, as identified by Rick Gillis.
Major Career Mistake #1
If the idea of turning 60 and not having achieved all you wanted to do bothers you, then read on. Gillis has discovered that most working people — entry level to senior management — neglect to consistently prove their value to their organization. Of course, every company, department, region, etc. has their ‘golden child,’ but if you are not this person, how do you compete?
You can start by understanding that just because you share air with your immediate supervisor, you should never assume that he or she knows exactly how you contribute to the company. This is major career mistake #1 and it does not take a seer on a mountaintop to figure this one out. Yes, you make the meetings and do what you do — and even do it well — but does your boss really know what that is? Do YOU recognize all that you do?
You Were Never Untaught Not to Boast
The problem stems from how we are brought up. You see, we are all taught at a young age — appropriately — not to brag. After all, who wants to play with the kid whose daddy makes more money than your own?
But as we get older, we are never UN-taught; we never UN-learn that personal promotion along the way is an important component of personal success. To be clear, Gillis is not promoting outright boasting. That will never do the trick. But what he is saying is that when we start reaching upper elementary, middle school and high school, we need to be learning how to communicate our value; how to inform others of how good we are — again, appropriately. Into college and on into the career world, appropriate personal promotion becomes mandatory. Or, as the wise man said to Gillis: You stall.
Goofy Guy Learns to Compete
The wise man did not provide Gillis with wisdom enough to advance women further along their career path or enable them to smash through the glass ceiling, but he did advise Gillis sufficiently to feel comfortable saying that women especially need to embrace this personal promotion message.
In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, eliminating gender pay discrimination. Since that time, women’s pay has only risen (approximately) 1.5¢ per hour compared to men. Gillis sees this not as a societal increase but rather a result of more women completing college than men and entering the workforce.
Gillis believes that one of the factors missing from the employed woman’s on-the-job tool kit is the mindset and knowledge about how to inform their employer of the value that they bring to the job. Of course, this is necessary for all players in the workforce, but ‘guys’ learned this stuff in high school. Gillis believes there is some truth to the idea that the genesis for men competing is women/dating/the doofus trying to get the cute girl to go out with him — er —them!
Waiting for a Slap on the Back
The person who is waiting for the slap on the back and a “job well done” from the boss is wasting valuable time. Sometimes — more often than not — a worker’s value is not appreciated until they are gone. (Why did we get rid of Chris, again?)
If for some reason you feel that what you do is not of real value (often heard from people who do not sell stuff; who work in support roles), understand that if your employer agreed with you, you would not have a job. It’s that simple.
The solution to this dilemma is to keep a journal of your accomplishments — no matter how small or how large — while on the job. Note them in your calendar or in a spreadsheet. Just keep a list. At the very least, come performance review time, you’ll be prepared.
Tell Them What You Did — Correctly
So, you may ask, what is an accomplishment? An accomplishment is something that you state with a result. Without a result/a net value statement, your words are just wasted air.
Here is a simple accomplishment statement formula: I was responsible for _____(fill in the blank) that resulted in ______(fill in the blank).
For example, “I was responsible for writing for a slide presentation article that resulted in the sharing of actionable career and, ultimately, revenue-generating information for the IT Business Edge audience.”
On the face of it, this may not seem like such a great accomplishment, until you begin to quantify the value of this effort. “It would be my hope that hundreds, if not thousands, of readers of this slideshow might embrace this concept and use it to advance their career.”
Sourcing All the Good Stuff You Have Done
How do you source previous accomplishments? Simple. Review resumes, performance reports and your calendar. (Amazing what you will remember looking over your calendar!) Next: Ask family (your mom remembers everything you have ever told her about your job!), friends, co-workers, vendors and customers. Make note of every little thing you hear. Someone might say as little as “Remember when we…” and that may be enough for you to flesh out the details.
When ‘flashing back,’ do your best to identify the problem that you encountered and how you solved it. Lastly, identify and state the resulting value in such a manner that your employer will see the value in your effort. Be able to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how of the event in question.
Who You Gonna Call?
You’ve gone to all this effort and created a wonderful value list. Notice how good this feels? You really are a Rock Star! But how do you apply all this effort to advance yourself on the job?
The first, no-brainer application is at performance review time. For you to walk in with a finely tuned, professionally prepared list is highly impressive. But even more impressive is your having previously mentioned one-on-one to your boss over the water cooler that you came in and spent four hours on the XYZ account over the weekend to prep for Monday’s presentation. Hey, she wasn’t there. If you don’t tell her, how will she know? This is actually the scenario Gillis envisions for you to embark on. Casually and consistently let your boss know you are the bomb! Just don’t do it so often that you become ‘that guy!’
The wise man never saw how valuable it would be to be able to walk into a meeting with management to discuss your future and you providing a well-documented list of all those things you have done weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually since coming on board. Nobody does this. Until now.
You Are Your Favorite Celebrity!
As Gillis climbed back down that great office building so long ago (OK, he took the elevator again!), he recalls thinking that there had to be a better way for workers (both younger and older than 30) to inform and impress their boss, and their boss’ boss and even their boss’s, boss’s boss. After all, supervisors move on and you want to be the first person who comes to mind for whichever boss is in need. This happens as a result of informing your way to the top — by cultivating your persona throughout the organization. Remember: Do not ever assume your boss knows exactly what you do. Tell them.
Recognize that before any celebrity you admire today was celebrated, they were just like the rest of us: Nobody knew who the heck they were. You will get the promotion, the raise, the recognition you so richly deserve as a result of hard work as well as your continuous, appropriate personal promotion on the job. You got this.