Okay, so the answer is in the title in this post but let me give you a little insight as to why I find this to be true.
I went through college thinking that if I worked hard people would notice and I would be able to grow simply by people recognizing my efforts. I got an internship in the career services office my junior year. The minute I got myself into the door I knew I wanted to become promoted to the paid internship level and oversee the work I was currently doing. I wanted to get a taste of management.
I was confident in my ability to do the internship well and I proved to be very hard working in the position. Then came an opportunity to interview for the promotion mid year. And I didn’t get it. I wasn’t ready to supervise my peers yet, but my supervisor told me to apply again for the following year. Thankfully I did land in the position the following year but I quickly learned that had I demonstrated my ability to lead the semester before, I would’ve been promoted.
Then I got into working with Target, where I learned that I really got lucky in college. I was in such a small group of coworkers in college (10 interns total) that I had the ability to step it up and be noticed for my hard work.
I would have NEVER been promoted at Target with that attitude. Part of the success at Target is that they have those that they want to be promoted already trained and ready to start working in the new position by the time the new position opens up. Promotions are already planned out for their company to close the gap of errors or lack of leadership, among other things. Those chosen to be promoted were already doing the work of that higher position. They have proven themselves capable before being promoted.
I had many co-workers tell me that they wanted to be promoted and that they really did a great job at their current job. Some with 20+ years experience that truly knew their jobs well. They were making critical errors by becoming experts at their jobs, only. If you want to climb the corporate ladder you have to be fulfilling that job description, at the higher level. Had I tried to just work hard at Target, I would’ve never been noticed. You need to show or even tell your leaders that you want to move up.
This is a ridiculous example, but it’s true at the same time. If you’ve ever seen Bruce Almighty you know that Bruce had been waiting and waiting for a promotion. He does these crazy stories like the biggest cookie in Buffalo NY and putting a wacky umbrella on his head for an interview. He thinks it means he’ll be promoted, turns out it makes him super valuable in his current position.
Watch the video clip here, but please note of explicit language. Pro-tip don’t get to the point of you being Bruce. You never want to get to a point where you don’t get the promotion you deserve. Always be looking ahead of moving up until you are satisfied.