Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to get a promotion?

I feel as though many of the posts I’ve written recently have focused heavily on the obstacles women face in their careers. Take my post job disillusionment where I wrote about women feeling stuck and stalled in their careers. And in the comments of Feel Stuck in your Industry? Four Tips for Getting out Completely  where I wrote:

I attended a seminar last night covering what companies need to know about hiring discrimination and learned many managers continue to “profile” and discriminate when making hiring decisions. They prefer not to hire married women for IT consulting positions that involve travel, so ladies take off your wedding rings before going on these types of interviews. They tend not to hire or promote women who are in their child bearing years. Scariest of all, I learned the over-40 crowd is hugely discriminated against. Companies want to hire employees who are on the up-swing on the bell curve of their careers rather than the down-swing.

It is about time I celebrate a career success story around here. Drum roll....

Revanche of A Gai Shan Life received a promotion earlier this year:
Her new position comes with a new title, a higher level of seniority, more responsibility and visibility, a lot more travel and more money. It is important to note her original job offer with this company was on the low side.  Only after concluding a job, albeit a low paying one was better than no job at all Revanche accepted their offer.

Lesson #1 – You may have to accept a position that is not your dream job to gain experience and get your foot in the door.

Here are some of the things Revanche accomplished over the past year that attributed to her promotion:

She displayed a good attitude:
Revanche turned a negative into a positive. Instead of wallowing in disappointment over her low salary she developed an, "I’ll prove I'm worth it" attitude. Determined to earn a higher salary at her one-year salary review, she channeled all her energies and emotions into working at a high level. (She did receive a substantial increase at this review.)

She established credibility and was visible:
Revanche carried more than her weight and became the go-to person on several fronts. She also worked across departments and with upper management on a regular basis.

She didn’t listen to a naysayer:
One of the most motivating conversations of my career occurred when a co-worker told me I wouldn’t be able to handle taking college courses in addition to working full-time.  Revanche had a similar experience. Here is a phenomenal quote taken from her post Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2:

Someone once said to me, "They won't let women get anywhere near power in this place." I'd laughed and said something random to deflect but I very carefully filed that away. We have women directors aplenty, strong and outspoken, bright and introverted, if you have the eyes to see it. Never let anyone, male or female, faux-befriend and trick you into thinking that the patriarchy is the reason you can't grow and achieve. They may actually be the ones hoping to keep you down.

She understands and can operate within office politics:
This quote is also taken from her post A Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2:

Do great work. Enjoy what you do. Support good people. Find allies who love what they do. Mentor people who need mentoring and want to love what they do. Ask for mentoring from people who have integrity, strength, humor and sway. Find your joy and to quote my favorite bus driver: "don't let nobody take it away." It all adds up to something substantial.

A huge shout-out and congratulations to Revanche on a much deserved promotion. I highly recommend everyone head over to A Gai Shan Life and congratulate her. While there be sure to read her post's A Career Life: Securing the Battlements for Promotion and Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2 where she discusses her promotion’s interview process.

Recommended further reading:
To learn more about women and salary negotiations please see Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock.

For a good resource on understanding office politics I like Lynn Cronin and Howard Fine's book Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business.

Do you have or know of a career success story? If so, I would love to hear about it.


  1. Thank you for this lovely feature - it's nice to see my personal musings translated through an outside observer's eyes.

  2. I work in an office where the majority of employees are women. It's a great place to work and I've had much success there. Our station manager is a woman. In fact, among our top three senior managers, two are women.

  3. Revanche,
    It was my pleasure.

  4. Monica,
    Thanks for sharing - we so need to celebrate our success.

  5. Ha, at (almost) 40, I am more on an upswing than down. Which is why I have chosen to pursue entrepreneurship. I think that staying positive in the workplace and not listening to the naysayers are a woman's two greatest weapons in achieving their career goals. If she is determined she can accomplish it.
    And we as women should celebrate those achievements with each other (something many times we fail to do).

  6. Sharon,
    Love your positive attitude. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your entrepreneurship.

  7. Anonymous12:40 PM

    I like the part about accepting a position that may not be your dream job. As a medical student, I know that I will spend my first few years of work in a less-than-ideal setup, and it helps to be reminded of the long-term benefits.

  8. My "promotions" come when those under me get "promoted".... Potty training, learning to read, pouring their own cereal, etc. :)

  9. I love your motivational message. I dare say "Don't listen to naysayers" is spot on. So many times we become disillusioned from reaching our goals because of people who make us feel like we can't achieve success. Here's to turning a deaf ear to these toxic folk! :)

  10. Barefoot Meds,
    I think very few of us started out in our dream job. Looking forward to watching your progression. Love your blog.

    Actually there is a lot of sage advice in your statement. Sometimes our job is to mentor others so they may be promoted.

    As ususual you are spot on. Will try to remember not to listen to toxic folk.