I've been recruiting for a long time, over 18 years and it feels like I've checked a million references. One thing that comes up over and over again when talking to candidates, is their desire to get promoted. To move to the next level, take the next step to a manager or Director or VP, even CMO.
Some people seem to get promoted rapidly, no matter where they land. These are the people who spend on average 3-7 years at a company and during that time frame are promoted multiple times. There is no common thread here as whether they've worked at small or large companies. I've seen this equally at both.
Luck and timing certainly are factors. Sometimes your boss may leave and it's simply easier for the company to have you step up and fill in those shoes....to see how it goes, and if it goes well, make the move permanent.
Aside from that kind of luck though, there is one pattern I've seen repeated over and over again. A pattern that is worth emulating as it seems to work equally well at companies of all sizes. It's quite simple, yet involves extra work. Many people who say they want to be promoted have an air of entitlement about them, as though the promotion is due them simply because they've put in the time. Time is a factor that is not very high on the list from what I've seen. Many people spend 5, 10 even 15 years in the same role without being promoted.
So, what do you need to do to step up, get noticed and ultimately promoted?
You start doing the job that you want.
It's very often that simple. Notice that I said "simple", not "easy". There's an important difference. There's extra work involved and not everyone wants to make an effort without the guarantee that it will pay off. There's risk involved.
However, what do you really have to lose? Not much. Even if the promotion doesn't happen in a timely manner, you can count on an amazing reference when you go looking for your next job. These are the references that genuinely gush and say things like, "always went above and beyond....came in early, stayed late, did whatever it took to get the job done....always volunteering to take on extra work...I'd hire this person in a minute!"
References like that often seal the deal.
But, back to getting promoted. I've seen this happen over and over again. Think entrepeneurially and "make your own job". Start just doing the things you want to be doing that fall into your direction of interest. Take on as much as you can, and ask for more. Always be asking, "what else do you need help with? What can I do?" Get your work done to the best of your ability and ask for more.