Career progression is the most popular reason to return to university. Whether you study a graduate diploma or a master’s degree, postgraduate study can equip you with the expertise, experience, networking and formal qualification you need to climb the ladder or step into a specialised role.
But how do you get promoted after you graduate?
Those extra letters after your name don’t guarantee you an instant raise. Rather, there are some crucial steps you need to take to ensure your hard work (and study) pay off in a promotion.
Here we explore how to get promoted at work (and, importantly, how to get the promotion you want) by completing a postgraduate degree.
Speak with your employer early and often
First, you need your boss to know you’re seeking a promotion. Telling them upfront ensures all your achievements and moments of going above and beyond are framed as reasons you deserve one. This means every pat on the back can help propel you forward rather than just being empty recognition.
Crucially, this honesty also provides your employer with the chance to tell you the best way to get promoted in your organisation. They might:
point you towards the specific degree that will equip you with the necessary capabilities
recommend short courses or workshops with colleagues to bridge any skill gaps
provide feedback to help you identify areas where you can grow
share extra responsibilities you can take on to prove yourself.
Regardless of the details, this open communication ensures you have the information you need to pursue your promotion – and you won’t catch your boss off guard when you pop the question.
Prove you’re a high-potential employee by developing yourself
One of LinkedIn’s top tips for how to get promoted at work is to constantly improve and expand your abilities. It’s great to show you’re a high-performing employee by doing your job well, but this can only take you so far.
The key is to show your high potential for taking on new and more senior roles. This means:
taking on responsibilities beyond your day-to-day job description
making lateral moves to pick up new skills
seeking feedback from people other than your direct supervisor
expanding your portfolio of strengths and capabilities
developing a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset.
A great way to show your dedication to personal development is with postgraduate study. This proves you’re serious about becoming an expert in your field and providing more value to your company.
Identify the specific position you want
It’s one thing to generally ‘move up’ in a company, but this can lead you down a path that isn’t quite right for you. Instead, you should think specifically about how to get the promotion you want. What role in the company aligns best with your passion and career goals?
Once you’ve identified the position you’d like, consider how the duties of that job overlap with your own skillset. This will help you choose courses that cover the gaps and tailor your postgrad degree to that role.
Build your network
Networking within your current organisation is one of the best ways to get promoted, according to Great Work Life. Doing so allows you to develop good relationships with people throughout the business. This ensures people speak fondly of you and are familiar with your abilities.
But how do you get promoted if there are no positions available in your organisation? Well, sometimes you have to find your next job elsewhere – and expanding your professional network is a great way to help that happen. Postgraduate study doesn’t just upgrade your skills; it also creates new connections with your professors and fellow students. You may not realise it right away, but these new contacts may open unexpected doors for your career.
personality traits (e.g. positive attitude, happy to help others, sense of humour)
habits (e.g. arriving early, attending work functions, well-written emails)
achievements (e.g. closing big deals, out-performing KPIs, winning industry awards).
Another thing to look at is what qualifications your successful colleagues have. This could provide useful clues about which postgrad program you might want to study.
Of course, you can also approach these peers directly and ask for advice. Most people will be flattered to hear you admire them – and you may even find yourself with a new career mentor.
Don’t rely on your degree
A qualification won’t get you far if you’re no longer performing well at your job. While developing your skills and knowledge is important, don’t neglect to continue proving you’ve got the attitude and work ethic to match.
You need to make sure your work and study schedules won’t leave you unable to continue delivering good results at work. This is why postgraduate students at UQ enjoy various levels of flexibility, so they can complete their coursework without letting their work work slip.