What makes a person more likely to get promoted over another employee who has similar qualifications? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Max Altschuler, CEO, Sales Hacker and Author, Career Hacking for Millennials, on Quora:

When it comes to promotions, the results of your work should speak for themselves. If two people have similar achievements and records, then the biggest factor giving one person the edge is a crucial skill: navigating workplace politics.

The good news is that whether you're outgoing or more shy, extroverted or introverted, you can still succeed at this.

Gaining visibility

You need to stand out. In a fiercely competitive business, making yourself top-of-mind can make all the difference. This is especially true when it comes to promotions, because executives want to see their underlings show initiative and determination.

There are different ways to achieve visibility. Some people do it through the hours they work - by coming in early or staying late, for example. When bosses arrive for the day and find completed work waiting for them, they remember it.

But there are also other ways to get noticed. You might start a volunteer program for your office to take part in or organize a company activity. These kinds of "extracurricular" projects can move the needle. They also help build office rapport and relieve stress. Managers tend to remember these kinds of efforts.

Building relationships

Of course, the interpersonal relationships you build directly also often play out in promotions. This is a way in which people who work at an office can have an edge over those who work remotely. When you can walk by someone's desk and strike up a conversation, you're more likely to get their attention and focus and build connections.

But there are also more structured ways to build relationships. For example, determine who's making decisions in your organization, and turn to them for mentorship. Learn from them. Ask for some of their time, listen to their advice, take it seriously, and do all you can to apply it in your work. They'll notice, remember, and appreciate that you're working to be the best.

The importance of building relationships also exists outside of your company. Build strong relationships with your customers and other people in the industry. They'll be more likely to praise you to your bosses, which will reflect well on you.

Avoiding short sightedness

Unfortunately, I've seen far too many people lose out on promotions and opportunities - and sometimes lose their jobs altogether - because of a common mistake: failure to play the long game. People make quick, short sighted decisions that poison the water for them and their futures.

This is so common that I devote an entire chapter to it in Career Hacking for Millennials. Missteps I've seen include: holding grudges, burning bridges, voicing unneeded opinions, talking down to people at lower ranks, forgetting those who helped you, and nickel-and-diming people.

Sometimes, people don't even realize they're doing these things. And there are times that it's a matter of perception - you might mean something in a positive or neutral way, but a co-workers sees your words or actions as an insult or sign of disrespect.

The good news is that most of these problems can be avoided when people communicate in a professional, productive manner. Sometimes, egos and pride prevent people from talking things out. Don't let that happen, as angst can carry on for a long time.

If there's a problem to discuss, go ahead and have a conversation about it, even if it's uncomfortable. Just don't let it linger.

And in your workplace relationships, care. If you do and they can feel it, you'll get ahead much faster.


In the end, if all else fails, ask your company why you didn't get a promotion. Request as much information and constructive feedback as they can give.

It will demonstrate your commitment, persistence, and willingness to learn. When the next promotion comes up, your managers just might keep that in mind. They may realize that they wouldn't have a good answer to explain why they'd turn you down again. And that may help you be the one selected for the higher role.

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