6 Easy Steps to a Promotion in Project Management

Career progression is something that every employee works hard for—a more attractive wage, better projects, and more responsibility. But with so much on the line, it’s not surprising that landing that next promotion can be wrought with competition as everyone tries to put themselves forward. Whether you’re early on or late into your career in project management, here are some steps to keep your name on the top of the list.

1. Treat Your Promotion as Your Next Project

You manage projects for a living, and you’re good at it. Treat this as you would any other project, and you’ll be able to plan, act and achieve in accordance. First of all, set your goals. Is there a specific promotion on the table that you want to be picked for? Or have you been in your current role for a few years and want to take it up a notch? Set yourself SMART goals, including timelines and measurable attributes, and you’ll be half way there.

2. Clearly Articulate Your Motivation

You can impress your boss all that you want, but if a promotion is not on their mind, then it won’t be on the table. Are you hoping to take on a big new project and receive a pay rise accordingly? Perhaps you’re a project coordinator and want to go up a level to manage your first project. For some people, depending on your workplace environment, it might be appropriate to arrange a chat with your boss, and outright ask what you can do to be considered.

3. Know the Company

All workplaces are different. For some, it might be the norm to step up after a period of time. For others, you’ll have to earn your stripes with an impressive project. Look into the history of the company that you’re currently working for and see if you notice any patterns. What’s the natural progression from where you currently are? You don’t want to pitch a promotion that’s too far ahead, and risk being shot down instantly. When was the last time that you were promoted, and what were the circumstances surrounding it?

4. Get Promotion Ready

Treat your promotion preparation as you would a job interview. Look at your strengths, have a few case study projects on hand that you know back to front and can talk about challenges you overcame, how you went above and beyond, and overall delivery to brief and budget.

5. Invest in Yourself

Any project manager will appreciate the value of self-investment. Whether you want to diversify your skill set or refine it, it’s always a good idea to keep abreast of the latest best practices. Not only is up-skilling going to benefit you directly, but it will also look excellent to anyone on the promotion panel. If you company doesn’t offer personal development pathways, look into courses like a diploma of project management to put on your CV.

Project management is a field that’s growing and evolving, and so study is very relevant. There are near-endless ways that you can learn these days, so find something that fits around your schedule. Committing to study can also be a fantastic way to open up the promotion conversation with your boss. Ask about how they could support you to study, and you can offer that you’re taking on a diploma of project management because you want to better prepare yourself for future responsibilities.

6. Position Yourself as the Answer

You know those boring staff meetings and annual reports? Now might be the time to read them a little more closely. In these slideshows and white papers can be valuable fuel for your promotion pitch. Look for any kind of company-wide goals. They might be aiming to land a new project, break into a new industry, grow by a certain percentage—the list goes on. Now work out how you can position yourself as a way to make this happen. Perhaps you have promising contacts, or have worked in an aligned industry before. By pitching to your company on their own terms that they have outlined, it will be hard to say no to you.

This is a list of a few tactics that you can try to better position yourself as the top candidate for your next promotion, but there are plenty more. Always stay focused on what you want to achieve, and look at the newt task at hand to ensure you reach your big-picture goals.

Recommended Project Management Software

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Helen Sabell

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, and she is passionate about adult learning. She has developed and authored many workplace leadership programs, both in Australia and overseas.