Hoping 2011 is the year you get that big promotion? New research says you'd better start by promoting yourself -- sooner, rather than later.
According to a new report from LinkedIn, in-house promotions across all industries tend to concentrate at certain points throughout the year.
The survey, which used the member profiles of LinkedIn users as a data source, found that in the U.S., promotions are most likely to occur during January, and then again in June and July.
"LinkedIn uncovered the best months of the year to get promoted by analyzing nearly three million intra-company job promotions from our more than 90 million members across the globe and seeing when professionals reported being promoted," said Krista Canfield, a senior public relations manager with LinkedIn.
Data from 1990 to 2010 was analyzed and didn't include steps up the corporate ladder that were achieved by moves between companies.
While the greatest number of promotions were seen in January, some industries, such as accounting, saw a spike in summer months.
"For many professionals, like accountants, performance reviews are not held until late Spring," said Donald Asher, author of Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why.
Once the bills are paid and feedback is in from clients, they may begin to consider people to move to more senior-level positions, which could explain why it trends differently from other sectors.
The survey also found that millennials, those born after 1980, are more likely to be promoted throughout the year, rather than primarily in January, June, and July, as with the remainder of the workforce.
John Beeson, principal of New York-based management services firm Beeson Consulting, Inc., and author of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level, suggested that this might be influenced by the "classes" of young professionals that join the country's corporations each year.
Companies with large groups of peers that begin together, like classes of investment bankers or consumer products groups, might begin looking for people who deserve promotions at a different time of the year than a company that is more focused on staff changes with the turn of the fiscal year, said Beeson.
"Cohorts of young employees will be scrutinized to see who has the potential for growth or shows exceptional promise in an annual cycle at predictable points during the year."
As they advance in their careers to executive, individualized roles, however, they may eventually be promoted with the corporate fiscal cycle instead.
Some of the mid-year promotions might also be instigated by the absence of some upper-level execs during the traditionally slower summer months, said Asher. When junior staff are offered the chance to complete tasks normally reserved for their superiors, he said, they're likely to get recognized for their accomplishments in the form of a promotion.
"They're not looking to see if you can perform at your current level," Beeson said. "Your task is to breed confidence that you have the skills and sensibilities to succeed at a higher level."
What can you do to put yourself at the head of the to-be-promoted list?
Don't sit and wait for it to happen, for starters. Here are a few suggestions on how you can get the ball rolling now, so you're ready for the round of promotions.
Make It Clear You Want a Promotion
"Your boss must know that you want to be promoted," said Asher, so set up a sit-down conversation now -- don't wait for your performance review. "Ask your supervisor what you need to do to prove you're the right candidate for a promotion," he said, so you can work toward those goals before your boss starts weighing his or her options.
Make Yourself Available for New Assignments
It's important to work hard at your assigned tasks to prove you're dedicated, but don't be so involved in your core duties that you miss out on the chance to try your hand at something new.
You need to be ready to interrupt what you're doing at the drop of a hat, said Asher, "so keep your work well-documented so you can pick up where you left off, or know how to delegate it."
Keep Close Track of Your Accomplishments
Whether it's landing a top client, making a big sale, breaking ground on a long-awaited project, or gaining new skills and certifications, it's important to keep on top of them.
"Update your professional materials so you're keeping a timeline of the milestones you've hit," said Canfield. "Even if they were big accomplishments, a year is a long time for your supervisor to remember that it happened."
Write to Kelly Eggers