The Non-Expert

How to Get Promoted

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we lead a primer on how to get promoted. With a rocket-cycle and everything.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Any (legitimate, non-sleazy) tips on getting promoted as quickly as possible?

Answer: As you already know, promotions don’t just happen. And while it’s nice to think that hard work and a positive attitude are tickets to the fast track, think again. Just take a look at upper management.

But getting a promotion isn’t as mysterious and difficult as most people think. Hard work alone won’t get you noticed, but hard work and a mohawk will. And even if you’d rather make your mark with more traditional methods, the proper combination of elements can get you the attention you deserve…and that corner office you’ve always wanted. Here are some suggestions for your journey to success. For explanatory purposes I’ve chosen ‘stuntman’ as our example occupation.

Master Your Current Job

No one promotes a person who’s mishandling his or her current position. How can anyone expect you to leap from an exploding locomotive into a vat of burning oil when you can’t even take a swift kick in the groin? You need the confidence, authority, and nuance of a veteran, and that means mastering the A-to-Zs of your junior stuntman position, from ‘Accepting Pain’ to ‘Zipping Up Your Flame-Retardant Jumpsuit.’

Do Extras

Doing what’s expected of you will impress the stunt coordinator, but going the extra mile is what makes directors sit up and take notice. Maybe you’re expected to pull the ripcord at 2,000 feet. Try pulling it at 200 feet and see if your performance doesn’t open a few eyes. Your go-getterism just might ‘land’ yourself a better job next time around.

Refrain From Workplace Politics and Gossip

Believe it or not, most people don’t get to the top by playing dirty. Maybe the senior stuntman didn’t really ‘sprain his ankle on that last jump.’ Maybe his trailer is full of stalker-type photography of the lead actor. Or maybe you suspect he has a death wish and poses a serious threat to himself and the rest of the cast and crew. It’s not your job to tell the stunt coordinator. Chances are, the senior stuntman will end up fired, incarcerated, or torn apart after launching his rocket-powered motorcycle into a pond of ravenous alligators—all without you saying a word. Your discretion and professionalism will be rewarded after his dismissal/sentencing/closed-casket funeral.

Be Prepared and Stay Alert

Nothing says incompetence like falling asleep at the wheel of a race car moving 150 to 200mph. Stay sharp, expect the unexpected, and learn to duck. A good employee can adapt to a volatile work environment. Bring sun block to the desert and leech remover to the swamp. Don’t get caught in a sealed water canister without your oxygen. And when the director shouts ‘Action!’ and gigantic fuel drums begin exploding on the ‘Gas Station Set,’ you’re going to look awfully foolish—and inexperienced—if you’re standing around eating a sandwich next to Pump #2.

Look Presentable

You won’t get promoted unless you look the part. Wrestling with a vicious tiger shark might be easier to do in a wet suit, but if the script calls for a blindfold, straightjacket, and 50-pound cinder block attached to your feet, you’d better get used to it. Appearance counts.

Be Patient

Some employees don’t stay with a company long enough to receive advancement. Factors such as long-term disability, hideous disfigurement, accidental dismemberment, and major helicopter malfunction are often out of your control, but getting the promotion of your dreams won’t happen if you willingly quit your job. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle you face in the deadly minefields of your high-octane career is yourself. Hang in there. Seniority is often earned simply because the guy above you lost the ability to walk after his ejector seat failed to activate in time. Sit tight and keep your eye on the prize…your time will come.