Most important, best, and easiest way to increase your chances 1,000%: talk to your boss about what it would take to get promoted.
Seriously. Engage in a meaningful discussion about where you currently are with your work, your career goals with the company, and what options are available for advancement.
I watch people who sit in their cubes and watch internal job postings, then apply when they see something they want. These people are often surprised when they don’t get the job and don’t get far in the selection process. There are some big reasons why, but not engaging their boss sets all of them up.
- You must know yourself before you can advance. I’m not talking about your honest self assessment of your ability compared to the position you desire either. I’m talking about how you are perceived by the people who will be making that decision. If I’m looking to hire someone from within the organization for a promotion, I start by reaching out to the managers of teams that are good ‘feeder pools’ for candidates. Do you know what your boss will say about you to a prospective new manager?
- You need to advertise your interest. Believe it or not, there are dozens of internal promotions at almost every major company that are never advertised or posted. These are direct recommendations/offers. If no one knows you’re interested in advancing, they rarely recommend you for unadvertised positions.
- You need opportunities to showcase your skills. If you have made an ally of your boss, they can help position you to showcase what you can do in a selection process. You may get passed more important projects, responsibilities outside the scope of your normal job description. These kinds of things are key when applying for internal advancement.
- In most organizations, you will not be eligible for advancement without your boss’s approval anyway. I get a form to sign every time one of my employees applies for another position within the company. The form requires me to give ‘clearance’ for an applicant to accept another position. It asks about your performance evaluations, disciplinary status, etc. I don’t like HR surprising me with this form. You don’t want to be surprised by something I’m obligated to put on the form. Your boss will find out that you’ve applied, it’s better that they hear it from you than from HR.
In the end, if you want to advance, engaging your direct manager in a conversation about how to advance will improve your chances more than any other single action you can take. That doesn’t mean bow and scrape to your boss, or fawn over them to gain their favor. It means have a genuine conversation about your goals, interests and how you can best benefit the company.
This question originally appeared on Quora: How can I increase my chances of getting a promotion at my job?