Photo of Greg Jenkins

We’ve all seen the lists of advice for professional advancement. As veterans, we are uniquely positioned for promotions because we already have many of the skills needed to be successful in our careers. Remembering and repurposing strategies and ideas that were instilled as a part of your service will help you reach new heights, both professionally and personally.

Solve problems.

People that get promoted solve problems. Veterans are proven problem-solvers. You know how to react to situations that change rapidly in order to get out of tough situations and overcome the impossible. Use this ability to recognize opportunities for growth or improvement. Speak up at the next meeting or streamline your team’s process. Make your problem-solving skills known.

Don’t get comfortable.

People who get comfortable get complacent. In the service, if you get complacent, you won’t make the cut. Same goes in the office. Take on extra challenges that push you past your current expertise. Say yes to new assignments and ask to be challenged. Show that you aren’t afraid to be tested and that you’re comfortable with more responsibility.

Get to know the boss.

It’s easier to get promoted when you understand the person promoting you. Just as you would a commanding officer, study their habits, ask questions, and have conversations with your boss – both in and out of the office, if possible. It’s important to know how your boss works, it’s even more important to know what he or she thinks and values. Look for traits that drive his or her success and learn from them.

Keep things in perspective.

Remember, little battles are part of a bigger war. Don’t lose the war in an effort to win a battle. Successful people understand how their daily efforts affect bigger goals. Identify why your contribution matters and how you can make an impact.

Be a team player.

Build up your team and they will return the favor. 80% of veterans in the workplace are age 45 or older. Put that experience to work. You’ve worked with battalions, superiors and hecklers to tackle challenges as a team before; use that understanding to take projects and strategies to the next level.

Find a mentor.

You can’t teach yourself everything, in spite of Google’s best attempt to convince you otherwise. Find someone who can give you guidance and provide reassurance. Having someone to turn to, whether it is a superior, peer or just a stranger with good advice, can make the difference in your career. InQUEST supports programs like the Veteran eMentor Leadership Program that provide veterans in the workplace and their employers with resources to improve performance and enhance workplace culture.

Focus on finding what works for you rather than checking off every item. As opportunities present themselves, you’ll get a chance to find your way to a promotion. Don’t forget, you’re already more qualified than you think. Remind yourself how you got to where you are, and how you’ll get to where you’re going.