Just because you’re employed on a casual basis, doesn’t mean you can’t move up the career ladder. Here are 10 tips for how to make that step up a logical conclusion for you and your manager.
1. Tell your manager.
The first rule of promotion is to let someone senior know that you want to move up. It might seem obvious, but many people do miss this step, either waiting until a promotion is offered, or are holding back out of fear. But put yourself in your manager’s role: if you had to train someone up for more responsibility, would you choose the person who has put their hand up already, or the one who has never indicated they are keen to move up? Don’t make someone guess your goals, only you are responsible for communicating them.
Ask the manager for a casual chat, and explain that you really enjoy the job and want to learn more, with the aim of progressing in your career. Show that you are a long-term prospect (music to any employer’s ears, particularly those with a largely casual workforce).
2. Find out what skills you’ll need to move up.
Ask your manager what steps you should take next. If your manager isn’t forthcoming, look at corresponding job ads for that position in other companies and see what skills and qualities are frequently listed. You can also join an online forum in your field and pose some open questions: How did you move up? What skills were helpful to you? What should I be learning?
3. Build your experience.
An advantage of casual work is that you can often pick up extra shifts to increase your experience fast. If your employer doesn’t have any extra work available, perhaps you could consider a second job. If you haven’t any leadership experience in the workplace, you can find it in many other places, from sports to volunteering.
4. Put your hand up at every opportunity.
Your team leader calls in sick? Offer to do their shift. Someone needs to be in early to take the bins out or let the cleaner in? That’s you. Of course there’s limits and you don’t want to be taken advantage of, but when done right, you’ll soon be seen as the reliable employee who is always there to help the manager.
5. Be obsessively punctual and dress neatly.
Being consistently late makes it very hard to be promoted. How can a manager trust giving you the keys to open up the shop for a morning shift if you can’t be relied on to get there on time? Same goes for turning up unshaven, or wearing crumpled clothes – these visual queues can indicate you’re not very conscientious or that you have a sloppy attitude.
If you’ve been guilty of these issues in the past, don’t get bogged down in it. Just make an effort to improve, and after you’ve proven your track record long enough your past will be erased by your recent performance. Managers just want people to trust. So start getting to work not just on time, but early; even if that means sitting around for 20 minutes before opening time. The first face the boss should see on a morning shift, is yours.
6. Keep calm.
Casual work can be stressful. Busy restaurants, checkout queues, and call centres all have their fair share of pressure. What a manager wants is a person that stays calm in the chaos, while working fast and efficiently to clear the backlog. If you find yourself getting anxious at work, learn some coping strategies, such as deep breathing, and be sure to set yourself up for the shift well, by arriving early and well-prepared. Exercise and meditation outside work are also good buffers for keeping calm and processing stress.
7. Avoid office politics.
It is hard to overstate how important this is. If you get promoted, you’ll need to be managing your colleagues and taking orders from senior management, so don’t send the message that you talk behind people’s backs.
8. Have realistic but confident expectations.
Don’t expect your manager to promote you on the spot. These things can take time. Give yourself 3 to 6 months to learn new skills and prove yourself, then speak to your manager again. If you hit a brick wall, consider taking your new skills elsewhere.
9. Bring solutions to your manager, not problems.
One of the best ways to prove you’re promotion material, is to show that you already have the capacity to think like a manager. If something has come up that needs to be solved, think through the different options before bringing it to your manager’s attention – and then when you do, you can say something like: “This has happened – I was thinking we could do (X) or (Y), which approach do you think would be best?” The more you do this the more you build trust that you have critical thinking and decision making skills that are essential for advancement.
10. Act as if.
Without overstepping the boundaries of your role, start thinking about your work and responsibilities from the perspective of the person above you. If you were them, what would you want the person in your role to be behaving like and doing? And how would your manager or team leader approach the tasks you are doing if they were in your role? This psychological shift can create a real perception in others that you are already operating at a level of maturity and responsibility that’s above your existing role, and makes promotion a logical conclusion.