How to get a promotion

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  • Struggling to climb the career ladder? Then take some pointers from Dragon's Den star Deborah Meaden and stand out from the office crowd

    Dreaming of a promotion? Then make it happen. Deborah Meaden, star of BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den, tells us how to act, speak and dress your way to the top.

    Don’t expect anything from anybody
    It’s not realistic to think you’ll get promoted automatically. It’s up to you to remind your manager that you’re ready for the next step. Make sure you keep up the contact – update them on projects that are going well in the corridor or by the fax machine. I’ve always found short, sharp blasts in informal settings most effective.

    Have a plan (and stick to it)
    Draw up a timeline that details how long you’re prepared to wait to move into your next position, and commit to it. Most people tend to be brave at the outset but back down when they’re met with resistance. Be aware of a manager who is dangling a carrot but failing to follow through. Be realistic: if the job you want isn’t available, then it might be time to leave. Sometimes to move up, you just have to move on.

    Act, speak and dress for you next promotion
    I’ve spent my entire life acting as if I’m the chief executive of a business. Assume a level of authority in everything you do and always dress at the top end of your game to show your confidence. Always ask intelligent questions and never be intimidated by anyone.

    Always discuss money
    Talking about money can be awkward but you need to address your salary. Ask when you can expect to see an increase and what that might be. Underline what’s being agreed by saying: ‘Just to clarify, in the next 12 months I’m likely to see an increase in my salary by…’ then give the amount mentioned.

    Take proactive steps
    Look at the successful people within your organization and find out if you have any qualifications you’re missing. Undertake the extra training if necessary or recruit a mentor. There is also a lot to be said for grooming a successor within your team – your manager will be confident they can promote you if there is someone ready to do your job.

    Never play the victim
    The employees who impress me aren’t the ones who point out how hard they’re working, but those who make it look effortless. The bottom line is to just do the job and do it well. I didn’t become an MD through sulking or making others look bad. That doesn’t mean you can’t get emotional – I value passionate people – just don’t expect sympathy to get you promoted.

    How did you last impress your boss? Let us know your tips and tricks below.


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