In the past, career paths were more clearly designated. If you had the work ethic and grit, you would have eventually landed a promotion. Not anymore though. Promotions are no longer a given. You will have to prove yourself constantly and when the time is ripe you will have to advocate for yourself with tact.
Generally, employers look for the following behaviours when deciding who to promote:
Be an exceptional employee. A combination of excellent performance and good reputation will determine whether you will be considered. So, doing a great job consistently is the minimum requirement.
Work well in a team. Team players take precedence. If you volunteer to help your colleagues or supervisors and thrive in team projects you will be noticed.
Be conscientious. Being punctual and not taking too much time off is valued in all corporate environments. Malingerers never get promotions.
Connect. Stand out from all other promotion contenders by networking and connecting with your colleagues and boss. Never miss company events.
Hone your skills. You should take advantage of every professional development opportunity available. Not only will you stay on top of your game but employers value lifelong learners.
When it is time to ask for a promotion, consider the following:
Prepare to apply. A promotion will not magically fall into your lap. You may have to ask for it even if you are perceived as a high performer. Therefore, be ready to do so.
Let your boss know. Your boss can be your best endorser and it is always a good idea to inform them of your intention to apply for a promotion. Moreover, they need to be allowed ample time to find a replacement.
Check job openings. Be on the lookout for vacancies on the corporate website. They are usually posted there before they are made publicly available.
Go through the standard application process. You should not assume that the hiring officers know you and your skills. You should, thus, polish your CV and follow the standard procedure as any other candidate would.
Obtain References. Your boss as well as other managers who know your work are the best people to request a reference from.
Nail the interview. Chances are you will be required to do a promotion interview. Therefore, you had better prepare well to ace it.
Follow up. A thank you email or note are the best ways to restate your interest in the post.