The only way to go is up. Like it or not, the structure of American corporations is one of hierarchy. If you want to make more money, have more opportunities, and do more interesting work, you need to get promoted – or take the plunge and head for the door. But getting to the next level requires transforming how others perceive you. The secret to moving forward is changing minds. Here are eight tips for making that happen.

ONE. To lay the groundwork for a change in title, status, and pay, start by keeping a log of what you’re doing. Take note of your accomplishments, challenges, and frustrations. Record your active projects and unexpected interruptions. Keep an eye on what you’re doing each and every day.

The process of journaling about your work day creates three powerful consequences. First, you’ll feel more successful because you’ll see just how much you’re doing. Second, you’ll see opportunities to be more efficient. And finally, you’ll have a framework ready for your next performance review, informal meeting, or any other conversation about status and productivity.

TWO. Once you’ve developed a routine for keeping that diary, the next step is to define short and long term career objectives. Include goals such as major initiatives you want to start or existing projects you want to complete. List skills you aim to develop. Insert deadlines which have already been scheduled, and add any new deadlines that align with your planned achievements. 

This has to be more than ideas in your mind. Write down your own performance plan and stick to it. Work to meet and then exceed your goals. Prove to yourself that you’re not just doing what you’ve always done.

THREE. Next, consider formal education. Sign up for courses available in internal training programs, attend public seminars, or enroll in a college class. Register for an online study program. Set yourself up with new knowledge or skills you know you can use.

Furthermore, be sure and tell people about what you’re learning. Praise the instructors and relay tips and insights from your academic adventures. That way your boss is likely to bring up your burgeoning education at your next review.

FOUR. Another secret to winning a promotion is a two-pronged approach: be nicer and also more assertive at the same time. This first piece of advice comes from your parents, your kindergarten teacher, and maybe even your coworkers. Everyone appreciates someone who is truly kind and thoughtful.

However, don’t let a renewed emphasis on being sensitive to the needs of others turn you into a doormat. Be assertive. Express your concerns and your requirements, but do so using positive language. Be open to change, but don’t capitulate if you disagree. Engage in genuine discussions to decide what’s best.

FIVE. If a promotion is your goal, do some promoting yourself. Talk up yourself and your employer in the public sphere. Send in letters to the editor to your local newspaper. Write an article for an industry trade magazine. Seek out a blog or website where you can contribute a guest post. Make sure to reference your company in your byline, or perhaps in the content itself. And also, ensure that your colleagues have a chance to read the piece, so they know you’re working to advance the organization.

SIX. Networking has been long heralded as one of the best ways to advance yourself, but for the busy professional it can seem like too much work. Luckily, everyone has to eat. Take more lunches with people you don’t know, and work your way through your department and the company.

If you run out of people to meet with, ask those you already know who they think you should be meeting with. Take notes. Make promises, and keep them. And after you meet someone, stay in touch.

SEVEN. Getting the part requires looking the part. If you want to get promoted, call the most fashionable, best-dressed friend you know and go on a shopping spree. Your primary objective is to look taller and slimmer.

And now for a brutal truth: effectively updating your wardrobe may also require changing the body inside of it. The path to higher office probably includes some time on the stairmaster.

EIGHT. The nature of modern organizations is to see new talent as more attractive and valuable than the old standby. If you want a promotion, you may need to find a better job at a different employer.

This is basic psychology: it’s always easier to impress people you don’t know than people who have known for years. But whether you plan to change your title or change industries, you’ll have to pleasantly surprise others to get noticed.

The future of your career is in your hands. But what you have to do with those hands is change the way you appear in the eyes of others. That’s the secret to landing your next promotion. Now, get to work.

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