Build your case for your promotion
Document examples of accomplishments and accolades for your promotion
by Josh Doody
A big step toward making your case for a promotion is to document your results. Many people are uncomfortable with this step, and this is why they often find themselves waiting for a promotion to come to them instead of going after it. But it’s up to you to make sure your accomplishments are recognized. Many managers are so busy that they may not be aware of what specific things you’re doing to excel at your job. This is how you’ll make sure your manager knows you are excelling at your job and ready for this promotion.
Accomplishments are the things on your roadmap that you’ve done to demonstrate that you’re ready for this promotion.
Once you’ve begun acquiring experience in line with your desired promotion, you should start documenting your accomplishments immediately. Just keep a spreadsheet or a text document where you jot things down as you do them.
Note that I said “jot things down”. You’re not writing a book about your accomplishments, you’re keeping brief notes to use later when you build your case.
Record them in this format: Activity → result.
“Activity” is the thing you did. “Result” is the value added by the thing you did.
Here are some examples:
- Documented teammate onboarding process to make it reusable and to help decrease the time to productivity when new people join our team.
- Took online seasonal forecasting course to help with 2016 forecasting effort.
- Mentored Jeff as he built a client’s blogging application in Ruby so that he can work on other Ruby projects in the future.
Note that this can be a useful format on your résumé as well. Most people just list the “Activity” part in their “Accomplishments” or “Experience” section, but they’re missing an opportunity to describe the value they brought to the business by doing that thing. The “to result” part is how you communicate that value.
“I shoveled snow” isn’t nearly as compelling as “I shoveled snow so that you can get your car out of the garage.”
Having trouble thinking of things you’ve accomplished? Here are some questions to get your mental wheels turning:
- When did you go the extra mile for a client?
- How have you saved your team money?
- How have you made your team more efficient?
- What was your most recent learning experience?
- Have you made any suggestions that worked well and improved your team?
Accolades are praise and awards you’ve received over the past several months. There’s a good chance you already have accolades in your inbox if you know where to look. Start by searching your inbox for phrases like “thank you”, “well done” and “great job” to see if you already have accolades from clients or coworkers. When you find good examples, move them over to a separate folder so that it’s easy to find them again later. You can also use that folder to capture new accolades as they come in.
The two main types of accolades you’re likely to find are specific praise from a client or coworker, and awards or recognition for a job well done. For specific praise from a client or coworker, record who gave the praise, and either a summary of their feedback or a specific quote from them if you have one. For awards and other forms of recognition, record the award name or description, and the project or accomplishment that earned you the award.
Here are a couple examples:
- ACME Corp—”Shannon really nailed this project. She kept us on track and informed the whole time, and did a great job of identifying risks well ahead of time. She made this project easy for us.” —Tom Thompson, VP of HR
- Spotlight Award—For working three straight weekends on pre-sales for the ACME Corp deal to close it before end of year 2014.
While you’re collecting examples of accolades, keep an eye out for accomplishments you forgot about. If you find any new accomplishments, make sure you go back and add them to your list of accomplishments.