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There is no definite path to getting a promotion at work. If there was then there wouldn’t be anyone who would deal with all the entry level work. You were employed by your company because the manager either liked something about you, or liked your potential, so it’s up to you to show what you can do and why you deserve a promotion. 

1. He/she doesn't stand out

“Tim who?”. Poor Tim, he’s just missed out on that promotion because all he did was turn up to work every day, did what was expected of him, and went home at 6pm. What’s wrong with that, some may ask. Nothing, but is that a good enough reason for promotion? Not really, that’s what he’s paid to do. 

Don’t be afraid to try something different in order to stand out from the rest, and nothing will make you stand out more than taking on the boss's boring work! Do more than you are paid to do or wear a brighter tie - just stand out from the crowd - in a good way. 

As our friends at CashNetUSA found out, working hard contributes just 10 per cent to the promotion decision. What matters most is that your bosses know how hard you work (60 per cent). 

2. Don't play too safe

'Calculated risk' is the key word here. If Tim waits for permission for everything he does, it might make his boss feel that he's afraid to think for himself. With a well-planned decision having a good probability of success, people will notice that you are prepared to take risk for success while taking responsibility for that risk. 

If your risk pays off then you’ll be heralded, and if it goes wrong then you’ve made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t be afraid to show that you’ve got the nerve.

3. Offer solutions, not problems

There are two types of employees who speak up; those who highlight problems, and those who offer solutions. Which do you think an employer prefers? Anyone can look around and identify a problem, but equally anyone can offer a solution, it just requires a degree of thought. Instead of telling the line manager that the photocopier is broken, Tim could call the maintenance man himself.

Your solutions don’t have to resolve problems for the United Nations; regardless of scale they will showcase your ability to think logically.

4. Take control

Leadership is a quality that all employers look for when promoting. It’s not always easy to demonstrate your outright leadership skills, and if Tim had started bossing his colleagues around then he would have been as popular as a wasp at a picnic.

To catch the boss’s eye, use your softer skills more often. Communication and social intelligence are traits that can’t be taught in any degree. Leading with genuine consideration for the task at hand without coming across as bossy is your mantra.

5. Stop complaining

There is no office in the world that is void of office gossip or people who spend a sizeable chunk of their day complaining about their co-workers or how the company is run. Morale is a massively important factor for any successful company, and if Tim was ever over-heard being negative then it’s no wonder he was overlooked for promotion.

Positivity not only helps you work better - it helps alleviate stress with colleagues and team-members - something that will work in your favour when considered for promotion. Everyone need not love you, just be known as the guy or gal ready with a nod of encouragement or a word of good-natured advice for those very blue Sundays.

6. Move with the times

If Tim wants another shot at a promotion then he needs to realise that his employers are looking for flexibility and a willingness to embrace change. Resistance to change has forever been a major reason for lack in career advancement and growth. 

If things never changed then mankind would still be living in caves, and that just won’t do. Tim needs to demonstrate that he can embrace change, accept new ideas, and even show flexibility with his working hours. All employers love to see a spot of open-mindedness.

7. Keep it personal

Getting along with co-workers is important; you don’t want to be 'that guy' (or gal) who sits by himself at lunch, unwilling to make friends. It’s also important to draw a line somewhere. Allowing personal issues to spill over into the workplace can decimate morale while keeping that balance will show Tim in a far more focused, and reliable, light. 

8. Blow your own trumpet... or not

Everyone has potential, and more often than not a lot of it goes unrecognized. Quiet old Tim sat there at his desk every day, doing his job, knowing full well that he was capable of so much more. 

There’s a difference between being cocky or arrogant, and being willing to prove your potential, and in a lot of cases it is hard to tell the difference. Ask your manager for more tasks that you are confident you can complete or initiate plans for the company or your team which best utilises your skills. Just walking around the cafeteria with his plumage on display wouldn’t have worked at all for Tim.

9. Know your emotional quotient

How well did Tim respond to criticism? Did he accept it and consider it educational, or close up and brood angrily? Did he shy away from speaking his mind or from confrontation?

There is no one 'ideal' measuring yard for emotional quotient, but learning to control your emotions and understanding your thought process is great for personal development. Your EQ itself won’t be of any interest to your employer, but if you can’t control your emotions when things aren’t going well, then that will drastically lower your stock.

10. Anti To-Do lists

At the end of the day, the person with the most control over how you feel work-wise is you. It is important that Tim knows his own worth and capabilities - how is he ever going to commmunicate them otherwise? We are all used to the concept of to-do lists and with each item striken off, the sense of achievement increases. However, for many of us this list becomes less of a planning tool and more of a list of things you could not do that day.

To combat this, Marc Andreessen, a co-founder and a general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, came up with a system of beginning a fresh list at the end of the day. This list would be to record everything you managed to do - some things you may not have had on your to-do list. This anti to-do list can boost your morale and help you keep stock of your daily achievements.

Go on, don't be sceptical Tim, try it.