Promotion Stories – Episode 2 (Individual Contributor to Manager Level)

Welcome to episode #2 in a series of posts sharing inside details on what it really takes to get promoted at work.

Served up in a Q&A format, we learn how others have successfully managed to move up at work. Including…

    • The process they went through to get promoted.
    • The factors that were most important to getting promoted.
    • How much their compensation increased as a result of getting promoted.
    • The challenges they had to overcome to be recognized as promotion-ready.
    • And much more…

General Questions

1) Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 50, married and live in the southwest. 

2) What do you do for work?

I’m currently working as a consultant in the sports industry.

3) Tell us about your employer / company.

I recently left a software company I had worked at for more than 15 years to become a self-employed consultant. My prior employer was about $2B in annual revenue and employed ~ 8,200 people. 

4) How long have you worked in your industry?

I’ve worked in operational roles for more than 25 years.


Promotion Process Questions

1) Tell us about your promotion.

The specific promotion story I’m sharing today is one that happened several years ago. I was promoted from a client consulting role to a management role, moving from individual contributor to team manager. 

2) Why did you want to get promoted? What motivated you?

I was looking primarily for increased responsibility and to lead a team. I always enjoyed coaching others and was interested in moving into a managerial role. The increase in pay certainly played a factor in my motivation to get promoted as well.

3) How long did it take to get promoted?

It took me about 5 years, which was much longer than I anticipated. 

4) Did your compensation increase with your promotion?

Yes, I received a 12-15% bump in my annual salary.

5) Describe the promotion process.

Unfortunately at my prior company, promotions weren’t given just to deserving candidates. They depended on available financial resources as well as timing of open positions. Most promotional opportunities would have meant a move to a new location/state, but I was not in a stage of my life where I desired to change locations.

I was promoted because my boss moved to another role. I had to interview for the role, along with a few of my peers, and I was ultimately selected for the new role. 

6) Were you given advice about what you needed to do get promoted? Was it helpful?

Unfortunately career path at the company was discussed durig the review process, and that was about it. It was mostly on me to figure out what I needed to do advance. I never really had a mentor or sponsor. 


Reasons for Your Promotion

1) Did you have to build a justification for your promotion?


The interview process included 3 separate interviews in which I highlighted my leadership skills and client relationships.

    2) How did you get promoted? What were the most important factors?

    My performance and reputation for having strong technical skills played a role. And my internal/external relationships (with management, with my peers, and with my clients) was the most important reason I was selected for the position.

    It turned out that my relationships with key clients played a big role helping me to advance into management (and eventually go out on my own as a consultant). My clients were very vocal to upper management about the value I provided and how essential I was to their operations — and this helped get me on the radar with the execs who made promotion decisions. It also helped me get invited to important meetings between my company and my client where executives were present. This visiblity definitely helped in my path to a promotion. 

    3) Did you have to adapt or change any behaviors to become more promotable? Any missteps?

    I don’t believe I changed any behaviors, but in hindsight I do believe I could have self-promoted much better over the years. 


    4) What was the most difficult part of getting promoted? Any roadblocks?

    In that situation, I believe the corporate structure was the biggest impediment to promotion. The company didn’t do a great job with career pathing, and many factors had to take place in order to get promoted — like needing to have the budget for pay increase, have an opening (due to someone leaving or changing jobs, or an organization reorg, which happened frequently).

    More promotion story Q&A interviews

    Promotion Story 2

    Promoted from Director to Executive Level

    “I received a 15% bump in total compensation (base, bonus, equity).”

    Promotion Story 3

    Promoted from Coordinator to Manager Level

    “I’m proud to say I got promoted because I asked!”

    Promotion Story 6

    Promoted from Manager to Director Level

    “I had to get better at working with other groups and influencing without authority.”


    Rate Importance of 4 Factors

    1) Being seen as a top performer and delivering exceptional results.

    It was a solid 3 – important but not most important factor to get promoted. Technical skills and competency was important.

    2) Being seen as a high potential who can take on bigger responsibilities.

    This was important — rate it a 5. 

    3) Being seen as someone with strong presence who shows up with impact.

    I’ll give this a 3 –


    4) Gaining advocacy and support from others.

    I would rate this as a 4 — having support from internal and external stakeholders was an important factor in my promotion.



    Future / Misc Questions

    1) What's next for you?

    Fortunately at this stage of my life I’m in a position that I can work because I want to and not because I have to. My goals are really to enjoy the work I’m doing with less of the corporate structure while making enough money to continue enjoying my lifestyle away from work. 

    2) What guidance would you give to someone struggling to get promoted?

    Hard work, exceptional performance and high skill are not enough to get promoted. It is important to set career goals, discuss those goals with leadership and find advocates to mentor and guide that process. If I had an opportunity to do it over, I would have been more assertive or would have left for another opportunity at new company. 

    3) Do you have any books, podcasts, or other resources you would recommend?

    No book recommendations, as I’m really not much of a reader. But the resources I would recommend are right here on Finally Promoted.



    3 Key Takeaways

    1) Performance isn’t enough to get ahead. Showing your potential and gaining advocacy from others are more important.
    2) Having good relationships not just internally, but also externally with clients and partners can help you get promoted too.
    3) Be willing to change companies to advance your career.

    More Advice About How to Get Promoted at Work

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    Passed Over for a Promotion: Should You Stay or Quit?

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    When is the Best Time to Get Promoted at Work

    When is the Best Time to Get Promoted at Work

    The best time to advance your career and get promoted could be much sooner than you think — here’s why.

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    When Your Boss Promised to Promote You But Then Quits

    Here’s 5 steps to take when your boss promised to promote you but then quits before following through.



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