August 28, 2015

6 Cheats to Help You Rocket Up the Corporate Ladder

BergAlthough the goal of being a manager is not as popular as it once was, studies show that 34 percent of workers still aspiring to leadership positions.

Even though the not-so-ambitious are bailing out of the corporate rat race in swarms, it hasn’t exactly become much easier for the remaining workers to climb the organizational ladder. There still remain millions of workers all over the world competing for the limited number of elite management positions at the top.

Climbing up the management ladder is as hard as it’s ever been, so I thought I would outline some hints and tips to help you get an edge on the competition:

1. Get an MBA 

Despite what the skeptics might tell you, it seems that MBAs do confer upon their holders a number of benefits. Post-MBA starting pay is 50 percent higher than pre-MBA pay for full-time students, and part-time MBA graduates also see incremental boosts in pay. The payback period for an MBA is about four years on average.

So, the message is simple: getting an MBA seems to be a very effective way to accelerate your career advancement.

2. Be Adaptable and Flexible

When your boss asks you to do some tasks that are outside of your job description, resist the temptation to say, “That’s not my job.” Why? Because 71 percent of employers see this lack of flexibility and adaptability as a red flag, one that could prevent you from getting a promotion.

DoughIf you want to be seen as a promotion prospect, and you should always be willing to take on work outside of your job description.

3. Become the Manager’s Favorite

A survey from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business found that 56 percent of senior executives had “favorites” for internal promotions before interviews even took place, and that 96 percent of these executives ended up giving the promotions to their favorites. That means that, regardless of whether or not it is fair, one of the best ways to climb the corporate ladder is to become the manager’s favorite.

This may be easier said than done, because you may simply not be your manager’s type. However, there are some things you can do to get into your manager’s good graces. Go above and beyond the call of duty at work, and be sure to show an interest in your boss’s hobbies. Do you and your boss both enjoy endurance sports? Then use that to your advantage and bond with your manager over that marathon you just ran.

4. Take an Overseas Assignment

Mercer’s “2012 Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices” shows that one of the top five reasons for international assignments is to support career development. In a global business world, research shows that multinational employers favor management candidates who have international experience. Having international experience on your resume is a great way to boost your promotion potential. The next time you see an opportunity for a not-so-glamorous role overseas, jump at the chance to take it. View it as a free stepping stone in your career.

If you can’t get an overseas assignment, consider learning a second language, preferably in a country where your company or industry commonly does business. This should also increase your attractiveness as a potential manager.

5. Start Your Own Business and Build Your Management Skills

BusinessIf you are struggling to be seen as promotion material, one option is to leave your company and start your own business. This will enable you to develop skills in sales, marketing, finance, people management, customer relationship management, and customer satisfaction. After gaining a few years of experience, you can either continue on your self-employed path or rejoin the working world at a higher level, thanks to your very impressive resume.

6. Wear Professional Attire

A survey developed by OfficeTeam found that 80 percent executives agreed that clothing choice can affect an employee’s chance of earning a promotion. It seems that something as simple as presenting a polished appearance, wearing a suit, and dressing so that you look like management material is a great way to make yourself more promotable.

If you’re questing to reach the top of the corporate ladder, these tips should help give your journey a little boost. They may not solve all of your problems, but they’ll definitely make you more promotable and give you some serious advantages over your competitors.

Read more in Career Development

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.