Inside Supply Management Magazine

Promote Yourself For a Promotion

August 09, 2018

By Sarah Scudder

If you are anything like me, you don’t relish reporting to a boss. You want to be the boss. You want to be a leader, managing and inspiring others. You want to be instrumental in making decisions that will affect your company’s bottom line.

Early in my career, I dreamed of being in upper management. In my reveries, I was the executive who hired my own team members. I was the type of leader competent people wanted to work for.

If you are having similar dreams, it’s time to wake up, brush your teeth, wash your face and work toward a promotion so you can start moving up the corporate ladder.

Capitalize on Communication

Have you ever been passed up for a promotion? Did Linda, Bob or Michael get the promotion you thought you deserved? Why him or her, you ask? What does she or he have that I don’t?

Promotions don’t just happen. They are earned. Managers are looking for people who solve problems, provide solutions and communicate clearly.

Having been a promotee and promoter, I offer this advice:

Stay in your boss’s head. Email your boss a monthly accomplishment report. On the last business day of each month, I send an email to my boss and the CEO that is sorted by category, contains bullet points and is easy to read. The focus is to illustrate what I’ve accomplished. I also include information on my objectives for the next month. Make it clear to your boss what a great job you are doing. Don’t let him or her forget the value you bring to the company.

Track your accomplishments. It’s so important to document what you do. People are busy and forget easily. Your boss does not have time to remember every little thing you are working on. Use Google Docs: Create a document and note everything you accomplish. Include as many statistics and data points as possible. Focus on how you are adding value and increasing profitability. Storing this document in the cloud allows you to be prepared to show your value at any time.

Take on new responsibilities. Offer to complete projects that aren’t part of your job description. Volunteer for assignments that have high visibility with the executive management team. Show your boss you want to learn, grow and add value. Be someone your boss can depend on. At some point, your boss will realize that the team can’t function as efficiently without you.

Get visibility in other departments. Often, your boss is not the final decision-maker regarding your promotion or pay increase. It’s important to get as many people as possible within your organization “in your corner.” Build trust and respect with as many leaders in your organization as possible. I have reached out to many executives and asked, “How have you advanced in your career?” Most people are flattered to be asked for advice. Also, most people enjoy talking about themselves. I know I do.

Make your boss’s job easier. Identify your boss’s most important tasks and offer to take a few of them off his or her plate. Complete the assignments as accurately and quickly as possible. This helps build credibility and trust.

Seek out training. If your company offers training, sign up. Seek outside training, too. Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) offers a variety of courses and seminars. Also, there are many free useful online courses. Take courses on your subject matter expertise and subjects that are outside your comfort zone. Learning new skills will allow you to take on more projects and come up with new solutions. For example, I didn’t know much about search engine optimization (SEO), so that became the focus of my training courses. I took an online course that had a quiz at the end of each section. Now I’m applying what I learned about SEO to drive more traffic to our company website, even though I don’t oversee marketing.

Make connections. It’s important to connect with the people you work with. I communicate with my executive management team on LinkedIn and send them notes with articles or information that might be helpful. I also send them hand-written birthday notes, too. By doing this, it makes them — and me — feel good, and it establishes connections.

Make Dreams Reality

Promotions happen for a reason. And by promoting yourself and demonstrating your value to your boss and company in a variety of ways, you can help yourself move up the corporate ladder.

I am now living my dream. My hope is that your dream — that you’ll earn the promotions you deserve — will come true, too.

Sarah Scudder is president of Procureit5 (, a print management services company. She is based in Petaluma, California.