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5 Differences Between People Who Get Promoted and People Who Are Stuck

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Back in 2006 I was stuck in my job with no clear way out.

I was working harder every day, hoping that one day I will get noticed and fully recognized. At the same time, I began to notice that some people around me were getting promoted way faster than everyone else.

I started to wonder why the same exact people–about 10% of the company’s employees–got promoted almost every year, while the rest were trapped in their jobs for years. Often they were told there were strict internal rules for career advancement.

I spent a year studying traits of successful people, and found there were clear patterns for success. Here are the 5 things people who get promoted faster do:

1. They are strategic about choosing their next job.

Most of the people at work behave opportunistically when it comes to their career. They search for shiny jobs that will look good on their CV. Over time, they end up moving laterally from one job to another until they reach a later stage of their career and realize that their strategy didn’t work as they expected. Successful careerists do something different – they choose jobs based on their strengths and have crystal clarity on the next perfect job they should aim for. They take time to get aware of unique qualities and use that as a compass to make decisions. As a result of that, they attract jobs that are a perfect match, enabling them to excel in no time.

2. They know how to say “no.”

Warren Buffet once said that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people say “no” to almost anything. Most of the people working in corporate world are quick to say “yes” to every new idea, new task, new project, ultimately ending up being spread out and stressed out. The reason behind this “yes syndrome” is a belief that more projects will equal more chances of career success (which is absolutely false). Successful people know how to pick their battles, they are ruthless when it comes to prioritization and they know which battle wins will lead them to the next level job.

3. They realize their boss is the key decision maker.

It amazes me how many people see their bosses as a root cause of their problems in life (not just work). Common phrases I hear are “my boss is so myopic” or “my boss is obstructing me”. In 9 out of 10 cases when I dig deeper, it turns out that blaming it on their boss just makes them feel better about not being able to advance their career. It is almost a form of masochism. Successful people understand that their bosses hold the key to their job promotion. They use the “we” mentality with their bosses and are interested to learn about their bosses’ goals. Finally, they challenge their bosses constructively, subtly communicating that they are not “yes-sayers,” which in return, makes their bosses appreciate and respect them even more.

4. They build proof that they are ready for their next job.

When managers are hiring, they are not interested in past accomplishments, education and even experience. What they are interested in is undeniable proof that a new person can do the job, and therefore make them successful fast. Successful professionals know this. That is why they are strategic about it and dedicated focused time to working on projects or initiatives that will create this proof for their future boss. Unsuccessful professionals do it the other way around. They expect their past successes to last long and they often try to get overly educated in order to build evidence that is actually not needed to get a next-level job.

5. They build influence

Have you ever heard people saying they hate office politics. Whenever I hear this, it is a clear sign for me that this person doesn’t have a good understanding on how organizational dynamics influence work. In most of the cases, no one is going to backstab you, design a conspiracy against you or try to push you out. On the contrary, if you display high integrity, don’t gossip around and act professionally, “office politics” will not affect you much. They key world here is influence. Successful people know that their ability to drive their career is in direct proportion to the amount of influence they are able to build, which in many cases extends way beyond their job title. That is why they invest in building influencing skills and see it as a challenge to navigate through torrent of complex relationship that exist enlarge organizations.

If you are serious about getting promoted faster and paid more, start by assessing your current situation. Launch the quiz below to see where you stand.

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