A former Google HR exec says people have been asking him how to get promoted for years, and he always responds with the same question

Courtesy of ThumbtackChanging your job is in your control, says Justin Angsuwat, pictured.
  • Wondering how to get a promotion? First figure out why you want the title bump in the first place.
  • That’s according to Justin Angsuwat, a former Google HR exec and the VP of people at Thumbtack.
  • Angsuwat said you don’t have to wait for a promotion to start tweaking your job to better suit your needs – you can do that today.

Over the course of his career as an HR exec, Justin Angswuat has fielded tons of questions from employees on one topic in particular: how to get promoted.

Angsuwat almost always responds the same way: “Why is this promotion important to you?”

The point isn’t to elicit eye rolls from employees by answering a simple question with a more complex one. It’s to make those people realise that changing their job is more in their control than they might believe.

Angsuwat is the vice president of people at Thumbtack, an online platform that connects people with local professionals. He was previously the head of human resources for Google’s go-to-market functions, and a human capital manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“When people answer that question,” Angsuwat said, “sometimes they tell me it’s actually about having more recognition, or more autonomy, or a greater sense of purpose.”

Now they’re getting somewhere.

The next step, Angsuwat said, is twofold. First, the employee needs to communicate these desires to their manager, so their manager can help them get there. Next, the employee needs to work on crafting their job so it better suits their goals.

“It shouldn’t make your happiness, or the fact that you want more autonomy, contingent on the promotion,” Angsuwat said. You can tweak aspects of your job today so that you can get more, say, autonomy, or recognition, or whatever it is you really want.

Read more: An executive coach says there’s a creative strategy for earning a promotion – but too many people ignore it

That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep gunning for that promotion. You should!

In fact, Angsuwat echoed a piece of wisdom we’ve heard from multiple career experts: “To get that promotion, you should be performing some of that role today. It actually makes a stronger case for you, the fact that you’ve gone out and started to perform at the next level already.”

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