Career advancement through a promotion or job change takes more than just hard work. Nurses, so good at advocating for their patients, have to advocate for themselves when they want to get ahead.

Asking for a promotion is a good place to begin. But just asking for a promotion might not get you the results you’re looking for. How can you make sure you’re prepared to get the promotion you want?

Here are a few ideas for promotion preparation.

List your successes

Are you uncomfortable talking about how great you are at your job? When you’re hoping for a promotion, you have to show your supervisor how much you have accomplished. Supervisors know what you do, and they know your duties. They assign responsibilities to you, but they aren’t going to remember everything. Bring a list of your increasing successes in your position. Talk about how you boosted efficiency, saved your unit money, mentored a new nurse, educated your colleagues by leading seminars, or introduced a new process that increased patient or nurse safety. Remind your organization why you are such a valuable employee.

Be open to change

Have you considered all the possibilities of moving ahead in your organization?  Before you ask for a promotion, assess where your organization needs help. Where does your organization need your skills to increase its overall performance? Moving into a role that is a professional stretch but gives you an opportunity for real job growth will jump start your career. And showing exactly how your professional skills will have a positive impact on the larger organization demonstrates a broad perspective companies want from leaders.

See also
Navigating the Road to Nursing Leadership

Show your initiative

If you want a promotion, show your supervisor that you’ve taken on additional work to sharpen your skills and increase your preparation. Think about your possible next career steps and look at the people who are in similar roles. Compare your experience and skill set with theirs so you can find any gaps where you’ll need to gain extra training or knowledge. Consider if you’d need to take classes or other professional development to prepare for a role you want and get started on what you can.

Branch out in the professional community

Have you joined a professional organization like the National Black Nurses Association or the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses? If you haven’t done that yet or you’re in an organization but aren’t an active member, it’s time to change. Professional organizations offer many benefits to members including rich opportunities for networking, professional development opportunities, support, and mentoring (maybe even an unexpected job interview!). Nurses in professional organizations are also able to take on increasingly complex leadership roles within the organization. Those roles are separate from their work, but leadership positions or active participation in events and advocacy are excellent examples to show your supervisor when you’re asking for a promotion. Your outside involvement with a nursing organization demonstrates your commitment to the industry as well.

When it’s time for a promotion, be an active participant in the process to increase your chances of getting ahead in your organization.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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See also
Inclusion, Part 2: Changing the Culture
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