After landing your first entry-level position and spending a few months adjusting to your new role, you might start turning your eyes to the next level. But promotions can be hard to navigate. Every company has its own way of doing things, and you might be unsure of how to proceed.
Still, there are some best practices that could help better position you for a promotion. Here, Codecademy People Operations Business Partner Asif Kumandan explains that there are several steps you can take to help set yourself up for success.
Figure out how you want to grow
Before you can advance, you need to know where you want to go. “The first step is understanding what you want,” Asif says.
What are you hoping to gain from a promotion? (Aside from money.) Is there a platform or technology you want to become more familiar with? An aspect of software development that you want to specialize in? Or maybe you’re drawn to the idea of nurturing other people and aiding in their career development.
Think about what growth looks like for you — not just in terms of role but also experience. “When you get the right experience and learn the right skills, the roles and responsibilities will come with it,” Asif says.
Start by doing your research. Many companies provide a breakdown of the competencies required for each role. Try looking at your role and the one above it. Not only will this give you an idea of what to expect at the next level, but it’ll also give you some insight on how to get there.
“If you want to be promoted, you want to meet at least 75% of the competencies at the level above your current role,” Asif says.
You could also try reaching out to your senior team members to ask about their responsibilities and the steps they took to earn a promotion. And if you still need more information, consider doing a little competitive research. Look through job postings related to your desired roles and take note of their requirements.
Once you have an idea of how you want to grow and what it’ll take to get there, try to find opportunities to build the required skills. What projects can you take on to meet those next-level competencies? Are there any new programming languages you should learn?
Share your goals with your manager
After you’ve figured out how you want to grow, the next step is to sit down with your manager to discuss your goals.
This can be intimidating — especially for junior team members, Asif says. Many people shy away from these conversations because they worry about coming off as greedy or that their manager will think they’re considering other options. But these conversations are essential for your career growth, and they also show your manager that you’re actively looking for ways to improve.
“It’s on managers to create opportunities for people to grow, so don’t shy away from these conversations,” Asif says. He also points out that these conversations are mutually beneficial. As your abilities grow, you’ll be able to provide more value for your team and company, he says.
In your next one-on-one with your manager, try setting up a separate meeting to discuss your career development. Outline your broad goals and share the ideas you came up with during your research. Then, your manager will be able to help you develop a plan of action and find specific steps you can take to build your skills and work your way up to the next level based on the company’s goals and timeline. “Sometimes your goals are perfectly aligned, and sometimes they aren’t, but the only way you can find out is by starting the conversation,” Asif says.
Keep track of your accomplishments
One of the best ways to earn a promotion is to illustrate the value of your contributions. But this isn’t always easy to do. We often get caught up in our day-to-day work, completing tasks and immediately moving on to the next. When you’re constantly looking forward, it’s easy to lose track of all the great things you’ve done thus far.
That’s why Asif recommends creating a Hype Doc. Try using Google’s Hype Doc template to get started. Highlight any big projects you’ve handled — summarize the problem you resolved and the results of your efforts. You’ll also want to add any work you’ve done that’s not captured in your competencies, including smaller, unique tasks that were helpful for your team.
Hype Docs are a great way to keep track of all of your achievements, so when it’s time for your performance review and you want to showcase your hard work, you don’t have to scramble through old tickets and documents. They also give your manager a valuable resource to help build a case for your promotion. Asif points out that managers juggle a lot of responsibilities, and having a Hype Doc on hand helps ensure that your accomplishments don’t get overlooked or slip through the cracks. “Great managers will advocate for you, but no one can advocate better than you can for yourself,” he says.
You also might want to include metrics in your Hype Doc. Maybe you resolved an error that reduced downtime or implemented a feature that increased your user retention rate. Knowing how to understand and explain hard data points can help clarify the impact of your contributions. If you need help learning how to collect and make sense of your data, check out our data analytics courses.
Find opportunities to work with other people
The importance of having good people skills is often overlooked, especially in tech, but they’re essential for you to succeed in your career. As you rise to more senior levels, you’ll have to work more closely with other teams and departments. That means your communication and collaboration skills need to be top-notch, and you’ll also need good leadership skills to keep your junior team members on track and help them advance in their own careers.
“Many of the competencies in engineering roles speak to cultural impact and soft skills,” Asif says. “It’s not just about how much code you wrote.”
Try to find opportunities to collaborate with your team members and foster each other’s growth. This might include code reviews, pair programming, or lightning talks where you share new and valuable information. You also might want to consider mentoring another developer. These steps can help show your manager that you’re ready for the next level.
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