As an employee (part-time, full-time, contract, or otherwise), your day-to-day performance places you in one of two categories: promotable or not promotable. Getting a promotion starts months (or years) before the promotion date.

What makes someone promotable? Here are seven attributes of highly promotable people.

Doers, not talkers.

Whatever the assignment, task, or objective, doers simply get it done right the first time. No drama or excuses, just results. When they do this long enough, people will ask them to take on new challenges. They are often the first one to work and the last one to leave. They don’t quit until the job is done, regardless of what the clock says. Their actions and results do the talking for them.

Solvers, not excuse makers.

Promotable people see a problem, look for causes, and take actions to solve the problem. You’ll hear them approach their supervisor and say, “I noticed a problem with X, so I’ve tried a couple of things and found something that seems to work,” and then explain what they did and how the results have benefitted the customer/department/company. In contrast, non-promotable people let their boss handle problems, or worse, complain about them.

Selfless, not selfish,

They are always alert for opportunities to lend a hand to others. They ask for assignments others don’t want, and then do them well with a smile.  It’s always about the good of the department/customer/patient/company. No job is beneath them.

Respectful, not inconsiderate.

Promotable people respect everyone, regardless of what they do and where they came from. They never gossip or get caught up in politics.  They treat others with courtesy. They practice active listening instead of looking through or past people who are talking to them. They place others first.

Outward focused, not self-focused.

Promotable people look beyond the task, job description and department – they think about the big picture and how what they do affects everything else. If having to make a choice when at work, they always choose team and customer interests over self-interests. They recognize that their own sacrifices are small in comparison to the benefits of encouraging teammates and extending the life of a customer or patient.

Givers, not takers.

Promotable people set a personal example to give more than what is asked or expected. They consistently produce to a higher standard than is set by their employer. If they see a job that needs to be done, and they can do it, they jump in and do it – they don’t check first to see if it is in their job description. They rarely run out of paid time off and they don’t abuse break times. They never do personal business on company time, which includes taking calls, texting, personal emails, gaming, and any other form of personal amusement while they are on the clock.

Integrity and trust, not questionable motives.

They set a personal example of integrity that is bullet proof. Because they are givers (not takers), selfless (not self-focused), and solvers (not excuse makers) they have developed an ironclad reputation within and outside the employer. They don’t cut corners, and they always do what they said they would do. They don’t hang out with people of questionable character or motivation. Even if they were certain they could get away with something, they simply don’t cut corners or rationalize honesty. As a result, people trust them with confidential information and the keys to the kingdom.

Bottom line

Every one of the seven qualities of highly promotable people represents an intentional choice to be a leader by doing. And when people commit to promotable behavior and live it out on the job, they never have to worry about their career hitting a snag, or being able to get the best jobs with the best employers.

This blog was excerpted from Get a Better Job Faster, my latest book on conducting an effective job search.

Hank Boyer is CEO of Boyer Management Group, works with employers and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. See his two newest books on job search at

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