How can I get promoted as a UX professional? UX Question #89

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Camilo from Austin asks: How can I get promoted as a UX professional?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Camilo. This is UX Question number 89 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I get promoted as a UX professional? I get the question. Most UX professionals want to have a career, not just a job. We want to tackle priority projects, delegate tasks, and review the work of junior designers. It’s also nice to bring home a bigger paycheck which usually follows a promotion.

But there are things in your control and things out of your control. Let’s talk about a few.

In your control: you can demonstrate clear and specific growth in your current role. Talk with your manager about ways you can grow and deliver better outcomes. Document those things, and create a paper trail of evidence that you are progressing. If your company has a formal performance review process, take it seriously and use it to your advantage.

You can also prove to your direct manager that you are ready for the next level. Talk with your boss about their expectations of the role you want to move into. Talk to people who are currently in that role, and learn what’s different about it than the job you’re doing today.

Then, begin demonstrating that you can do that job. Get your boss to advocate for your promotion because they can already see that you would excel in that position.

Now, what might be out of your control are things like: a hiring freeze, or leaders who typically hire from outside rather than promoting from within. And then there’s nepotism—hiring the Senior Director’s brother into a role he’s absolutely not qualified for. And so on. You can’t control that stuff.

By the way, here’s something you want to be absolutely clear about. Does your employer usually promote people based on potential (and then train people in their new position)—or do they only promote people who have fully demonstrated readiness for the next level? You can’t control that, but you’ll want to be aware of your situation.

We live in a time when it is more common for UX professionals to leave their current employer and join another company in order to advance in their career. Seldom do we stay with one employer and grind our way up the org chart. But if you do want to stay with your current employer and move up, focus on what you can control. Understand what it takes to thrive at that next level, demonstrate that ability, and earn the trust of your boss and your peers.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What should I do when I feel unmotivated as a designer?

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