The Myth of the ‘Spontaneous Promotion’ and the Career Lies we Tell Ourselves

I was speaking at a scientific research centre recently and asked the attendees why they had come to the workshop. One woman named the myth that I think so many of us believe in. She said: “I’ve been working hard on a genomic research project for my team for the last 3 years. We are about to  publish the research, and my boss certainly has gotten a good amount of publicity from our collective efforts. I have made sure the research team ran smoothly every step of the way and I thought he would recognise my efforts. I keep waiting for a ‘spontaneous promotion’ that has never come. I don’t know what I am doing wrong!”

The truth is, she is probably doing nothing wrong. She probably has been working reliably and diligently. The trouble is, there is no such thing as a ‘spontaneous promotion’. Most promotions are the result, not just of hard work and good delivery, but of being vocal that you would like new responsibilities and a promotion, and achieving greater public recognition of your value to the team. Certainly, bosses sometimes come to us with opportunities or roles we may not have expected – but make no mistake – this is not ‘spontaneous’. It will be the result of something your boss sees in you. Bosses are not mindreaders – tell them about the potential they should see in you. There are more articles on Career Planning here.

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