August 2017 Educate

What it Takes to be Promotable

Written By: Craig w. Petrus, Executive Director of Career Services, Warrington College of Business, University of Florida

As an ambitious career professional, you should always be thinking of your next move. Whether that is inside your company or somewhere external, you should always be displaying and executing the traits that will set you up for your next big promotion. By going above and beyond and performing at a high level, you essentially differentiate yourself from your colleagues down the hall, those who may seem content in their nine to five job. Here are a few key things to think about and ultimately put into action that will help in driving your career forward and securing continuous promotion along the way.

Continuous improvement and thinking ahead

I often tell my team, I am not the smartest person in the world, but I have a desire to try. This means, become a continuous learner. Educate yourself on those things that you know will help you take your career and knowledge to the next step. Think about those skills that you lack knowledge or experience in and obtain them. Look at those individuals above you, those who you inspire to be like. What do they know? What skills do they possess? How do they manage themselves and their career? Continuously fill those gaps within your career tool-belt that will help you remain marketable on a regular basis. You can achieve this by always thinking one or two-steps ahead.

Whether that is a current project you are working and anticipating its potential road blocks, or thinking about what you career could look like in five years, you always want to be thinking what should I be doing next? By thinking ahead and becoming proactive in this way, you will learn how to overcome those challenging times in your career and be a smarter person for it.


My father often said, “Become indispensable, so that they have no reason to fire you.” To this day, I try to live out my father’s advice and always do what I can within my organization to provide value and make an impact in some way, shape or form. You always want to be looking for ways in which to differentiate yourself from your competition, establish your brand, and separate yourself as a high-potential leader for the future. Take on projects that no one else will, provide information and data analysis that proves to be important and impactful to the organization, and learn and understand what other parts of your organization do on a regular basis. The more you know, the more valuable you become. Oh yeah, one more thing…don’t be afraid to take out the garbage once in a while. This way you will show you are not afraid of getting your hands dirty.

Adaptable and Self-Aware

Know your strengths and weaknesses, and what aspects of your career you need to improve upon. Do not try to be someone who you are not, just to try and impress those around you. Take time to ask your trusted colleagues and peers what their impression of you is, and be open to some tough and constructive feedback. Put this constructive feedback into use and do the things that will help you become a better person and employee. Adapt to your surroundings, no matter how challenging it may be at times. Being adaptable will increase the level of trust and respect others have in you, to the point where your opinion is thought upon highly, at which time you can start to plant the seeds of change and start to significantly impact the organization you work in.

Network up and down

Whether it be the parking attendant or the senior vice president, networking with those below you and above you is an extremely important factor when setting yourself up for promotion. The more people (advocates) you have on your team that think highly of you, the more your positive marketability spreads around your company and professional network. Get to know those individuals around you and treat them with kindness and respect. People like working with other people that they can respect and get along with. It is very challenging to work with those that you do not. I often hear stories from recruiters as to reasons why a particular individual didn’t get a job, one of them being how they treated those around them with lack of respect or just plain rudeness.

Humility and Ownership

Whether you agree with this or not, there is always someone in your career who has shaped the way you are and who has helped you achieve the success that you have worked so hard to obtain. Continue to be thankful throughout your career of this success and those that have helped you achieve it. Awards and recognition can take years to obtain, but it can take seconds for all of it to be lost. Become humble and someone who doesn’t let the success go to their head, all while giving back to those around you in some way share or form. In addition, take ownership for those tougher times in your career. We all have bad days. We all have moments when things don’t go as planned. It is how we react to those moments in our career that make the difference between promotion or demotion.

Take ownership of your mistakes, learn from them, and don’t make excuses. Communicate to others around you what you would do next time to avoid such a situation in the future. I always find it comfortable during those times when admitting a mistake, how people seem to react to your admittance; more times than fewer, they are at a loss for words, because you didn’t make excuses. Having this mentality will keep you grounded and humble during those good times, all while strengthening your ability to overcome those tougher times that you encounter in your career.

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” —Tony Robbins, American author

CRAIG W. PETRUS joined the Warrington College of Business in June of 2009. As Executive Director, Craig is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Business Career Services Office and ensuring the delivery of quality career development programming and services to students within the College of Business at the University of Florida.

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