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.
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.
If you have decided to advance your career this year, getting a promotion might be at the top of your to-do list. Or maybe you’re content with your current role, but would appreciate more recognition from your supervisor for bringing 110 percent to the job all day, every day.
Promotions take a lot of effort—few nurses get promoted just because they come to work every day. How can you bring some attention to your work?
Here are five small steps to do this year that may set you on a path to your next promotion.
Doing your job is expected; doing more is what gets you noticed. Create value for your organization by always assessing processes to see where you can create more efficiency. When you can do something better, faster, or with less people and the end result is better patient care, you become a really valuable nurse. Keep alert to ways to improve routines.
Get Extra Training
Making the effort to get an additional nursing degree is almost a fast-track plan for getting a promotion. With a push for having nurses attain a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, extra education is a valuable asset. If an advanced degree isn’t really an option for you, certification is another way of achieving a higher professional level. Certification helps you gain a deeper understanding of complex nursing areas—from cardiac to wound care—and will help you provide better nursing care. Find out about new practices and new technology, Don’t forget about online or in-person seminars that many healthcare organizations offer.
Whatever you do, make sure you keep learning and keep your supervisor in the loop when you learn something especially valuable.
Become a Networking Pro and Get Involved
Get to know other nurses and healthcare professionals by getting involved in the professional nursing community. Join a professional organization and volunteer to take an active role within that organization. While you are out and about, be an active and positive ambassador for your organization. This activity won’t necessarily get you a promotion, but it will get you noticed for what you bring to your organization.
Go to Conferences and Share Your Knowledge
Attending conferences is an excellent way to learn more about nursing and to uncover ways you can improve your own nursing care. But don’t go to a conference and then operate in a silo. Share what you have learned when you return. Offer to give a lunchtime talk about a new tactic, a cutting-edge technology, or a vital change in evidence-based practice. Let others know what you learned about how other nursing units are successful.
Think of Good Publicity
Become a vocal nurse advocate wherever you are. Find a nursing cause you believe in and get involved to change policy. Write letters to the editor championing the valuable care nurses provide. Raise funds for causes devoted to nursing. Becoming a positive force for change elevates your own personal goals and gives your industry and your career a boost in the process.
Being a good nurse is any nurse’s goal, and getting ahead in your career involves that qualification and then a little more. Extend yourself to reach that promotion.
If you want a promotion, you need to be ready for one. As you move through each step of your nursing career, change is the one constant companion. Your job will change, your patients change, technology and evidence-based practice will change. Being ready for those fluctuations is the best way to have a successful career.
If you plan for change and actually take steps to make sure you’re prepared to move your career in the direction you want, your choices will be more on target.
Because promotions are the way to increase your pay, assume more responsibility, and move you toward your career goals, you have to be an active participant in the process. Waiting for a promotion doesn’t always mean it’s going to come your way—even if you deserve it.
Here are some ways to actively plan for having a chance at getting that promotion.
Position Yourself for Leadership
Whether you want a promotion that is an advancement or a lateral move that gives you new skills, making sure your superiors know you’re open to something new is your first step. This one is important—don’t assume people know what you want.
Take on Responsibility
Seek out ways to take on more responsibility at work. If you don’t see anything obvious, find it. Ask your supervisor if you can help in a different area or ask what’s needed to advance in your organization. Become knowledgeable about a specific practice so that people on your team begin to rely on you for that task.
Getting certification shows the leaders in your organization that you’re serious about being the best nurse you can be. The time and effort it takes to get certified isn’t just a minor thing, so the work you’re putting in is for your own professional development. Becoming certified is a clear signal that you want to remain at the top of your nursing specialization and that you’ll take steps to achieve that goal.
Become Prominent in the Community
Join a professional organization and become an active member. You won’t gain anything by just joining—you really have to become involved. Lead a committee or speak at a conference. Offer to mentor a new nurse or seek out a mentor for yourself. Actively connect with the available networks and become someone who has something to offer, not just to seek out something.
Document Your Success
Keep track of your successes so when it’s time for your next review and potential promotion, you will have it all available. It’s easy to forget what you have done or when you were praised for a job well done, so keeping track of it all means nothing will slip through the cracks. You want to come to your review prepared to tell your story of how well the year went, where you want to go, and in what ways you’ll continue to work to make your efforts worthwhile to your organization.
With some strategic goals and actions on your part, you’ll be ready when the next opportunity comes up.
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