If you were the best-qualified person for the job but missed out on the promotion, then you are dealing with a perception gap. You are perceived as less valuable to your company than you really are.
The higher you rise up the corporate ladder, successful career advancement strategies become less like doing well in school (where a good work ethic and getting high grades for your work will guarantee recognition) and more like running for political office (where success depends on building a coalition of supporters, managing how you are perceived, and letting people know why you are qualified for the position). Rather than working hard and hoping for the best, you need to embark on a grassroots campaign to re-invent how you are perceived as a candidate for the position.
Here are some steps to take to make a positive impact on how you are perceived, and maximize the chance that you'll be considered next time:.
1. Throw your hat in the ring. Too many women wait to be granted a promotion, while their competitors go ask for it. Let your managers know you are interested in advancement and solicit their advice on what you have to do to be considered.
2. Work less! Take five to 10 percent of your working time and reallocate it to activities that make you more visible.
3. Make yourself visible to decision-makers. Build relationships with senior leaders who have the power to champion you and your career. Increasing visibility also means being vocal in meetings, participating on task forces and committees, bringing attention to your accomplishments, walking the hallways to build relationships with key decision-makers, taking on high profile projects, and seizing opportunities to give presentations to senior management. If you do all this, you’ll be “top of mind” when they consider who their up-and-coming stars are.
4. Act as if you are already in the higher-level role. This way, you will be perceived as someone who is operating at a higher level than your job requires. Offer to take higher-level tasks off your manager’s plate, volunteer to take on a broader scope of responsibilities, bring decisions or solutions to your leaders rather than bringing problems, and step in to lead meetings and projects.