New year, new luck. 2017 is your year and it is time to move on, internally or externally.

Here at Kennedy Executive Search and in all markets we serve, we see that companies have difficulties finding the right talent. And in a booming market, retention also becomes more important.

Retention? Sure. And what does your employer do for you to stay? Where do you stand today in your career (see my posting on Forbes on the different stages of the job life cycle)?

We have combined over 300 years in talent management on four continents and share them with you.

Here come 9 steps to make sure that promotion will happen to you this year:

  1. Analyze the status quo: a) Do you have a competitive profile (be critical and realistic yet ambitious with yourself)? b) Is a promotion possible in your organization? c) Do you have a strong boss with a good standing internally? Draw your conclusion: If you lack a skill or a degree, go and get it (see “MBA Or What Are The Alternatives?”). Leave organizations or bosses with low potential.
  2. Become a top-performer: Be very good in your current function before focusing on something else. If you are not in the top 30% of your peer group, develop a plan to get there. Only once this is achieved, you can show you are ready to take on more responsibility.
  3. Develop the right mind set: “If you want to be a manager (Director, VP, CEO) tomorrow, think and act like a manager today”. Whether you feel that you can take the next step, is not relevant. Your superiors have to think it as they decide whether you get promoted or not. It is in your hands to show it: Become a trusted advisor to your boss. Show entrepreneurship. Offer solutions, do not bring problems. Prove yourself by making a point when you should, by supporting your boss and by giving her/ him open and professional feedback – if s/he is strong enough for you, s/he will appreciate as no one else will do that.
  4. Make a career plan: Determine a possible next step for you together with your superior. The most obvious step forward may not be the right one for you and maybe there are projects or internal vacancies you do not know about. A good boss will also tell you your areas to improve and help you to improve these. Develop SMART goals, set clear goals where you want to be by the end of the next quarter
  5. Find a mentor: In my last job, I had a mentor who was five levels higher ranked than my direct boss. Having a mentor, a senior leader within your organization, will a) give you enormous insight and help you to accelerate your learning curve and b) make you not untouchable but still protect you in a way and also give you higher importance (by the way, this also works perfectly if you happen to work for the Mafia).
  6. Build a solid internal network: Whether you like politics or not, they will most probably matter in your current organization. Simply being the best is not enough. If you are on top of the organization, make sure the bottom stands behind you. If you are in the front-office, liaise with the back-office. If you are in the back-office, make sure you know the colleagues at the front. If you work in an international company, reach out to the colleagues abroad. Involve, seek advice and give feedback. This all will give you the credibility you need for the next step.
  7. Create a reputation: Better than talking about your achievements yourself is to have someone else talk about them (however, make sure you appropriate your successes as there are bosses around who will sell your ideas as theirs…). Make sure your potential is perceived, not only by your direct boss but also by higher ranked people. Have people in your company talk positively about you and become a person liked, respected and listened to.
  8. Become dispensable: If you are already on management level, develop a successor. When I was transferred cross-border, my bosses asked me “can you leave the department without causing a dip in revenues?” Good for me that I had developed a strong number 2 who took over.
  9. Follow-up: revise your SMART goals every quarter. Are you on track? If not, what are the reasons? If these lie within your influence, correct the path. Maybe seek advice from your boss or a mentor. If the reasons are without your influence, bounce back to step 1 and consider changing department internally or looking for a new job.


In order to give your career a kick this year, there are only two alternatives for you: a) become a top-performer and get a promotion until the end of the year or b) seek a new job and help me and my colleagues all over the world to earn our fees and pay our rent!