Moving On Up!

By Mark Grzeskowiak

Getting ahead in a career usually takes more than just hard work. This is a lesson we all learn at some point, but it's also one that we often forget when we're going after a promotion. Being able to show your employer that you work hard at your job is obviously crucial, but it's not everything, as we like to believe it is.

Figure Out the Big Picture

The most important thing to do before going after a promotion is to take some time to look around you. Develop a broader understanding of the hospital or clinic in which you work: its work processes, its management structure, and its long-term goals.

Work on Your Soft Skills

Soft skills, in this situation, have little to do with playing office politics or building rapport with a potential interviewer, and a lot to do with working on things like your verbal and writing skills. You'll want to demonstrate to those responsible for your promotion that you're polished and able to communicate clearly. You'll also want to demonstrate – with examples – that you can do so under pressure.

Learn to Market Yourself

There are two sides to marketing yourself. The first has to do marketing your résumé by making others aware of your skills and accomplishments. The second has to do with marketing your personality. In effect, this means making those around you feel that you're the type of person they'd like to have on their team, and who they believe will succeed.

Build Your Profile

Building your profile – or making a mark – will require some effort. You definitely don't want to do more of the same, by simply working longer hours or taking extra shifts. But you may want to take on more and varied assignments at the hospital, volunteer for committee work, or take courses that will provide you with new skills. The key here is moderation: You don't want to stretch yourself too much, to the point where your current work suffers. (Remember – it's about the next job, not the current one.)

Show Leadership Potential

If it's a supervisory or managerial position that you're after, then in addition to demonstrating a broader understanding of the hospital or clinic, you'll also want to show that you have something to add to it. You might make suggestions to change non-productive workflows, or you might simply volunteer to organize the staff party. Leadership is as much about motivating people as it is about knowing the business.

Find a Mentor

Never go it alone, if possible. A mentor within an organization in which you'd like to advance can give you tips and suggestions that go beyond a job description. Your mentor can be a sounding board, provide feedback, provide emotional support, give you perspective on issues, and more.

Be Prepared for the Worst

In the world of promotions, there are winners and there are losers. No one likes to be counted among the latter, but it's all part of the game we call The Career. Being prepared softens any hard feelings that result from a failed attempt to get a promotion, and keeps you open to learning things from the experience that will help you next time.

If you think you were treated poorly – maybe they dangled the carrot of a promotion to get you to turn down another job, or they interviewed you for a promotion when they already knew it was going to someone else – then you should be prepared to walk. There's no reason to stay in a job that undervalues you.

But if you do leave, do so with grace. Showing poise in this difficult situation is the best way to ensure that you're still in the running the next time the opportunity for a promotion comes around (if you decide to stay), and it also ensures that you leave with your reputation intact.

The last impression is the one that lasts!

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