Competing with a co-worker for a promotion? Here are 4 steps to ensure it’s in the bag
There’s a new position open at work and the heat is on. Go for it.
In my last post, I provided 4 pieces of crucial information that anyone pursuing any new job opportunity should know. This week, I am going to focus on what you should do when competing with a co-worker for an internal promotion as you move along your corporate development career path.
Going head-to-head with a co-worker over a promotion can be exhausting. First of all, as in any pursuit of a new opportunity, you’ll be expending energy on positioning yourself as the most well-suited candidate. But trying to beat a co-worker to a promotion has its own baggage as well - all eyes are on you at the company; your status is at stake; and everyone’s nerves seem to be on edge. But by approaching things in a planned and logical manner, you’ll be sure to win.
Here are four steps you have to take to get ahead of your co-worker:
1. Get to know your competition. Not as your co-worker, but as your competitor for the job you want. The first thing is to identify the possible advantages they might have over you. But what’s important is to widen your focus to what others in the company might see as advantages. This will help avoid any biases you might have towards your competition, resulting in a more realistic picture. (See my story of Jane who reaped the benefits of doing just this.) Then repeat this process with your competitors’ disadvantages. You should then have a clear list of your competitors’ advantages/disadvantages.
2. Explore the job’s requirements beyond the formal description. Job descriptions tend to list experience or qualities that an ideal candidate would have. Yet the end of the day, there might be two or three core competencies that are really important when looking at how to measure success at work. For example, I’ve seen many job announcements listing “ability to work in a dynamic environment” as a required quality, yet in reality, most of the time, the person would be working in a very stable environment. On another note, descriptions might include formal requirements but exclude certain skills that are actually very important for the job. For example, an announcement might list several technical skills, but in reality, without team-building abilities, the job can never be done properly. Obviously, you’re not going to find out such missing information in the job announcement. However, you can take advantage of the fact that you’re an internal candidate and find out all of this through informal channels within your organization. If you do this field research right, you’ll know exactly what to highlight when applying for your next promotion.
3. In this step, you want to take the information you gathered in (1) and (2) and create a chart listing both the formal and informal job requirements as well as how you size up to your competition on every requirement.
4. Now that you’ve got a clear picture of how you compare to your competition, it’s time to build your strategy. First, make a note of wherever you have a clear advantage over your competition and ensure that you can express this clearly. This should be pretty easy for you, as you explored this in (1). What’s harder is dealing with the points in which your competitor has an advantage over you or in which you both are about the same. Here, you’ll want to surprise the interviewer - pull some rabbits out of the hat, so to speak. Such rabbits are going to come from what your learned in (2). So, for example, if both you and your competitor have impeccable financial management skills, you’d want to highlight the fact that you’ve initiated many new projects for the organization (which you’d found out as crucial to the successful execution of this particular job). In this way, you differentiate yourself from the competitor by offering information that is unexpected, yet can definitely be a game changer.
Competing with an internal candidate is definitely a challenge, yet by following these four steps, you’ll still be able to show that you - and not they - deserve the promotion.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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