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How software engineers can get promoted? learn how to land a promotion

Oct 25, 2021
 min read
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You’ve been working hard, you've been in the same job for quite a few years, your co-workers have moved up; what about you?! Shouldn’t you get a promotion? In this article, I’m sharing some key points which I believe are beneficial for all software engineers and people in tech looking to get a promotion. Throughout my career, I have noticed that with the proper education, showing your employer you are a team player and capable of doing a variety of tasks, being proactive in meetings and empathetic with the people around you, being open to new opportunities, or even creating opportunities, are some elements to help you land a promotion.

Maybe a promotion means more working hours. Are you ready for that? Maybe it means more traveling, are you ok doing that during the pandemic? Get focused and set targets, create a list of all the things you want to achieve or accomplish.

Show your employer that you are worth it and you can do the job

Keep your eyes open and learn from other people's experiences, get advice from your co-workers and people who have moved their way up. Each company is different and requires a different approach. You might want to consult with HR first to see if a promotion is something you would have any interest in pursuing. If you’re working in a small company, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your boss for help. In that way, you'll show you care and you're capable of handling things he/she might not think of.

Set a goal for yourself - think of what you want to have more or less of in your life. This is an important exercise in getting clarity in your mind about what you really want. Maybe a promotion means more working hours. Are you ready for that? Maybe it means more traveling, are you ok doing that during the pandemic? Get focused and set targets, create a list of all the things you want to achieve or accomplish. Make some research on how other people inside your company got a promotion. Speak with them and understand the role you are setting yourself up for.

Get the right education

One of the secrets to getting promoted isn't just finding the right job or skills but having the proper mindset and know-how for the job itself. Soft skills and approaching the right people aren't enough; you need to have technical knowledge. It would be best if you were fully up to date on the latest technologies and trends so that you can get assigned to new projects that require you to be the one that comes up with the new solutions for the business. Improve your skills so that you are considered for more senior roles.

Let's assume the new role requires more technical skills. Do you have them? If not, educate yourself. There are many routes to get there. Find online courses, read coding books, go to conferences and meet-ups, etc. Don't forget all the valuable help you can get from your co-workers too. Ask them technical questions, questions about their code, its performance, how they optimize and refine it, how they test it and review it. If you feel more advanced and want to check your technical skills, browse StackOverflow or Quora and answer a few questions. Some other approaches are being a mentor to a new team member, writing an article, or creating a video explaining a complicated concept. There are many approaches to educating and advancing yourself as a software engineer; take advantage of the best ways, and start showing that to your boss when you are ready.

Show that you are a team player

To get the promotion, you need to build up good relations with your a) superiors, b) team c) and in some cases, other teams too! We have already mentioned that you should have good relationships with your superiors and that you need to show them what you are capable of achieving. Show your managers why you are the right fit and what new you can bring to the table. You’ll get more opportunities to explain what you can do for your department if you keep showing up for work and following all the processes. Don’t be afraid to change things, but on the other hand, don’t be too drastic with your changes! 

The second thing you should build up is your relationships with your team members, and the best way to do that is through communication. Offer solutions and be keen on discussing different paths to achieve the same goals. The last thing your team members need is a “dictator” manager. Be approachable and empathetic. Of course, these values require time, but since you have set your goals (we talked about that above), you should include improving yourself in these fields too.

Last but not least, build relationships with other departments too. In fact, most companies these days encourage team-building exercises (you can take the lead on them). You can organize internal events, encourage people to speak at them, and share their knowledge. Don't forget to follow the same path as well. In that way, everyone will see your soft and hard skills. Soft skills that you’ll show are: communication, time-management, organization, etc., whereas hard skills include all the technical aspects like live coding, explaining complex concepts, sharing tips for reviews, optimization, performance, etc.

Be open to new opportunities

At this point, I’d like to share a short story of one of my friends, let’s call her Caren. Caren was offered a programming management job in a start-up company when she was 26. She didn’t want it. She didn’t like management. However, she took the role anyway because she liked the company and the culture. After a few years, the start-up company was stable, and it grew exponentially, which allowed her to move up and pick up exactly the position she wanted. Because she was in the company almost from the beginning, she knew pretty much all the jobs; she had friendly relationships with people, so it came naturally for her to get a promotion. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes you need to be patient, be open to opportunities or create your own opportunities. If you see a gap in the company’s hierarchy, take advantage of it, and why not propose yourself for this vacancy.

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that every company has its own rules and processes. Sometimes you may have to wait for the right timing. Also, sometimes you may need to level up your skills. Be patient, set goals, show initiative and work your way up. Keep a positive mindset and ask for feedback from your peers. Promotions are a recognition of your hard work. The whole process shouldn't feel like a sprint but more like a marathon. My point is that if you're doing all the right things, and you do them consistently over time, if you're good at what you do and you can communicate your expertise, there's no reason you shouldn't be promoted.

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Eleftheria Batsou
Developer, Thessaloniki, Greece

Eleftheria is a freelance developer and community manager at Hashnode. Her studies include a major in Informatics and Telecommunications of Engineering and a master's in Graphic Arts and Multimedia. She has worked for many years in the field of frontend and app development. She has created tech courses for several platforms such as Packt, Udemy, and Skillshare and she likes to produce motivational talks and how-to videos on her YouTube channel.

When she isn't glued to a computer screen, Eleftheria spends time working out and strolling in nature.

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