Everyone talks about working their way up the corporate ladder. Some discuss it as plans for the future. Others talk about it as their present plan to advance in the company they work for. It takes ambition to want to move up that ladder, but in reality, ambition can be a catch-22.
It’s great to have ambition when you’re looking for the bigger paycheck, the corner office, and the nice looking nameplate with your new title etched in gold. But sometimes, ambition can go too far and the position at the top might not be worth the number of those you have to step on to reach it. Though some might disagree, there are ethics in business. Those who use less than moral ways to get what they want might find it backfiring on them in the future.
The following are four ways to avoid when going for a promotion. Obviously there are many more pratfalls that can happen when aiming high in your career, but if you can steer clear of these bad karma makers, you’re likely to reach the top of with a clear conscience and a good future.
1.Creative qualifications – There’s nothing wrong with selling yourself. It’s what you do on a resume. Looking good and answering questions to the best of your ability is likely to get you a good job. Making up great things that you’ve done in the past just to get a higher position is not such a good idea. If you have the qualifications to back up your claims, great! Getting a position because of your hard work is the best way to get it. But if you find that your imagination is working overtime to come up with reasons for you to get the promotion, your ambitions are getting a little too high.
This can backfire easily. Employers are going to check your credentials. If you failed to note that you headed up a big project in the past during your first interview, but now suddenly have the experience to move up the ladder, the discrepancy is going to show. Even if you get the position, the moment you have to do something big, your lack of experience (and your lie) is going to be obvious.
If you’re ambitious enough to really want the position, you’ll be truthful the whole way. Even if you’ve never done the work needed in the area you’re going for, show that you’ve gained enough knowledge in your current position to be able to pick anything else up rather quickly. Show an interest in learning, and make sure that the powers that be know you’re interested. With a good and honest attitude, those doing the hiring will remember your ambition. If this promotion doesn’t work out, there’s always another one around the corner.
2.Discrediting a fellow worker – This is the one you’ve most likely heard about at some point, even if not at your own job. When it comes to ambition in your career, there sometimes tends to be a fine line between earning your position and backstabbing a fellow employee to get where you are.
Never resort to discrediting a fellow worker behind their back. If you know someone is going for the same position as you, starting office rumors and talking about them negatively to the boss will likely get you nothing more than a bad reputation of your own. Having such a lack of morals that you would stoop to backhanded slander to get a position will reflect on you, ruining not only your chances for this promotion, but for future ones as well. Even if the boss doesn’t see through this, your fellow employees will and word of your tactics will get around.
If asked about a fellow worker’s behavior, be honest. If you truly find it lacking, say so, but give specific instances why. Instead of “Mark never does his work. He’s always playing on the internet,” which comes across as harsh, vague, and judgmental, try saying, “Mark’s a great guy. However, his lack of initiative on last week’s project caused work to be delayed in other areas.” If you know a co-worker does a good job, don’t lie because you want the career boost. Your integrity will be duly noted and counts for more than you may think.
3.Keeping your intentions a secret – Not telling anyone that you’re going for a promotion isn’t always bad. Discreetness can be seen as a professional maneuver, while sneakiness is seen as unethical and another form of “backstabbing.” It depends on the context, who you talk to, and other aspects surrounding an open position.
Tread carefully. Many positions that come open for promotion get discussed around the office. Who’s going for them is generally public knowledge. If you’re not on a first name basis with many of your coworkers, you don’t normally need to tell of your intentions unless asked. Even if confronted, a general answer such as “I’m thinking about it,” should suffice.
For those you’re closer to, honesty is the best policy, especially if you know one of them is going for the position. Co-workers you work on regular projects with may feel more of a connection to you. They’ll likely be hurt if you go for a promotion without a heads up. You don’t need to ask their permission, but many feel it’s a matter of respect. A fellow hopeful that you’ve worked with may tell you of his or her intentions openly. If they find later that you said nothing but went for the same promotion, there’s bound to be feelings of bitterness. Your failure to “be honest” will leave you marked as a “sneak” in the business, both ruining future chances and causing bad relations between you and those who may be working beneath you one day.
4.Using connections – There’s a saying in today’s world: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While you may find this to be true, using your connections to gain a promotion isn’t necessarily ambitious. It’s sneaky and desperate. Those who believe in survival of the fittest, even in the business world, will be able to justify letting a relative on the board to get them the corner office as nothing more than savvy business politics. This isn’t so.
Asking someone to pull strings for you will hurt you in many ways when it comes to getting a promotion. Having connections doesn’t mean you have the knowledge needed to do the job. If you don’t have the brain power for what you’re attempting to do, then no amount of connections is going to make you a respected employee. If anything, your fellow employees (and those higher ups who weren’t thrilled with those pulled strings in the first place) are going to have less respect for you than they would have if you’d earned the position.
Go the promotion route the old fashioned way: hard work and job loyalty. The business world isn’t always fair, even to its hardest workers. Your idea and their idea of where you should be in your job are likely to be two different things. Even if you have to be patient, there’s something to be said for gaining respect by your own means. Once you’ve worked hard enough to get the promotion you deserve, you’ll likely have built up a good resume and a lot of respect from those you may someday be managing.
Always remember that when you’re going for a promotion, honesty is the best policy. Hurting others to climb the corporate ladder will only hurt you in the long run. Work hard and let your ambition work for the good of your career, not for the harm of everyone else’s.