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10 statistics from LinkedIn that can help you climb the corporate ladder

LinkedIn is a relatively new website that seeks to combine the power of social networking with the job search process. The site allows you to connect with people based on your professional associations. On it you can connect with your friends, co-workers, bosses, and even colleagues at previous jobs. It also acts as on online resume where you can upload a profile containing your work and educational experiences. Once your profile is complete, you can begin searching for jobs posted by other LinkedIn members or companies. And employers looking to hire can also search for and view your profile.

One issue I have had with job search sites like Monster.com and Hotjobs is the amount of information you can display about yourself. To any jobs you apply to, you are just a resume and a cover letter. You have to condense your entire educational/career experience into a few pages of plain text. Employers get very little information on the other aspects of your life, and you have little opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Some people are able to figure out the secret to a great resume or cover letter, but for most of us applying to jobs on those sites feels like tossing a coin into a fountain and making a wish.

The great thing about LinkedIn is that it provides you with the ability to present a fuller picture of yourselves. Besides your resume, your profile on LinkedIn can display a picture, the people you’re connected to, your twitter account, your blog/website, and the various almni/social groups you belong to. And similar to Facebook and its applications, there is a host of LinkedIn applications that you can use to customize and personalize your profile. It is essentially the modern resume in full color and detail.

One great thing I like about LinkedIn is the recommendations feature. You can request recommendations from your connections which are then published to your profile. Any employer viewing your profile will be able to read them and get a better gauge of a potential candidate. These are similar to the testimonials that became popular on Friendster.com (remember that?). So instead of submitting two or three recommendation letters to an employer, you can potentially have up to dozens of recommendations from all your connections. Your co-workers, bosses, and even friends can use them to highlight your special skills and abilities so that employers will have all they need to know.

A feature I saw today that I thought was pretty cool was a LinkedIn poll. A recent poll asked members to vote on what they think is the most important factor for climbing the corporate ladder. The 4 choices were, confidence, being well liked, agreeing with the boss, and being well groomed. Obviously confidence is by far the most important of the 4, but what is interesting about the poll is how the choices vary among different industries and age groups.

Here is the link for the poll.

Here is a list of the 10 things I thought were pretty helpful from the poll.

1. Confidence is key

It was not a surprise that confidence was chosen by over 60% of people as the #1 reason for getting promoted. Confidence leads to success in a number of ways. A person who act with confidence or speak with confidence are much more convincing than someone who is nervous and unsure of himself. Even based on appearance alone, people who have positive body language and look confident are assumed to be more successful and make more money. If you look and sound the part, people in the higher ups may also believe that you deserve the part.

2. Being well liked is important too

Despite the landslide victory, 40% of people chose the other 3 answers in the poll. 28% chose being well liked, which is also very revealing. Although having confidence is great, not being very confident does not mean you cannot be successful. Many of the CEOs of multi-million dollar companies do not come across as the super confident alpha males, just look at Bill Gates, or Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. Many corporate leaders achieve their successes by being able to gain the trust and support of their co-workers and employees. And a big factor in that is being well liked.

However, do not mistaken being well liked for being a kiss ass. Being well liked comes from genuinely liking people and taking an interest in them, and wanting nothing in return. If you want tips on how to win friends and influence people, read the classic book by Dale Carnegie.

3. Agree with your boss most of the time, but not all the time.

Even though agreeing with the boss only received 9% of total votes, that does not mean it is not important. There are some things you should always agree with your boss on, such as company rules and expectations of employees. A great part of a manager’s job is making sure the employees are following the rules and procedures of the company, and a good reason to promote someone is the knowledge that they understand those rules well and will enforce them in a managerial position.

However, there are things you can disagree with your boss on. The my way or the highway type of management went out the window a long time ago and managers now aim for more cooperation and teamwork, which means opportunities for you to make suggestions for improvements. So find out how tolerant your bosses are to disagreements from your coworkers, and then choose the right moments to push your ideas and stand behind them. It will help you stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

The Apprentices

4. Grooming goes a long way towards good first impressions.

Only 2% of people chose having a well groomed appearance as their top reason, but it is one of the most important factors for getting promoted. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to trust a person based on their appearance alone. Your appearance is the first thing people notice about you, and is a large part of how first impressions are formed. Some CEOs and businessmen enjoy wearing suits, but most people wear them because of the impression it gives to other people. If you appear well groomed and well put together, people will make positive assumptions about you, including your bosses.

Differences in age

Outside of the answer choices, experience is probably the biggest factor when it comes to getting a good job or getting promoted. But how does experience in the workplace change a person’s perspective on their career outlook? The poll breaks down the results based on age group to reveal some interesting findings.

5. Being well liked is less important as you get older

Confidence and having a well groomed appearance remained nearly constant among all age groups. However, being well liked and agreeing with the boss showed some interesting changes. As people get older, it seems that it becomes less important to be well liked. Among 18-24 year olds that answer received 34% of votes, while among 34-54 year olds the result dropped to 27%. This is probably because as people attain higher positions and more job security later in their careers, they have more freedom to speak their minds and to create changes. You can afford to step on some toes and be safe in the knowledge that your job will still be there tomorrow.

6. But listen to your boss when you’re young.

Correspondingly, it becomes much more important to agree with the boss as one advances in their career. That choice received a mere 3% of votes from 18-24 year olds, jumping to 10% for 25-34 year olds, and up to 11% for 34-54 year olds. It seems that young people want to go into a place and change everything, but a few years of actual work will teach them the importance of respecting the boss. Because no matter how much of a genius you may be, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t know how to follow the rules.

Differences in industry

Different industries have different corporate cultures and corporate structures, so how do the workers in those industries feel about the best ways to get a promotion? The industries looked at by this poll were Accounting, Business development, Consulting, Engineering, Product(?), and Sales. Each had it’s own interesting results.

7. If you work with numbers, you don’t have to be well liked, but you should be well groomed.

The accounting and engineering industry showed almost identical results. Presumably similar types of people work in either industry, which explains the similarities. What is interesting about the results is that they had the lowest number of votes for being well liked, AND the highest number of votes for being well groomed. Which seems to makes sense since accountants and engineers don’t need to interact with people on a regular basis, but they do need to look the part to get the jobs.

8. If you’re selling something, forget about the boss, but you should have good people skills.

Take a wild guess where the highest results for being well liked were found. If you guessed business development and sales, then you were absolutely right. These two industries involve heavy client and customer interaction, and require a great deal of experience handling people. Selling a product often involves more than presenting the facts about the product and asking for a check. Most of the time effective selling requires the salesman to sell himself as someone to be trusted before he can sell the product.

Business development and sales also recorded the lowest votes for agreeing with the boss. This makes sense since salesmen are often out of the office and interacting with clients, there is little to report to the boss about other than sales figures.

Changes as you go up the corporate ladder.

9. Build your confidence, and it will push you up the ladder

The poll results were also broken down based on 4 categories of job titles, Owner, C-level & VP, Management, and Others. The change in results as people climbed the ladder should be noted. Results for confidence rises as one advances up the ladder, going from 58% for others, up to 67% for owners. As you keep working, you gain experience and become better at decision making. Your confidence grows from the good things that you have done, and in turn, your higher confidence will lead to more responsibilities and decisions. Once you have gained enough self confidence, and confidence from your bosses and co-workers, you are ready to go on to the next level.

10. When you’re at the top, priorities change.

Being well liked is the same at around 30% for every category except for owners, where it is 25%. This should not lead you to the conclusion that once you’re at the top, you can piss on the people below you. What this statistic really means is that being the owner, you have the most responsibilities of anyone, and the reins of the company are in your hands. You cannot hope to satisfy everyone, and many times you will be forced to make difficult decisions that will alienate some portion of your employees. However, as the owner, your primary concern is the success of the company, and trying to be well like could jeopardize everyone.

What does it all mean?

This list is not a one stop solution to getting promoted or a shortcut to the top. It is more of a guide of things to be aware of in ones workplace. Going up the corporate ladder is a slow and difficult process, which is why only a few ever rise to the top. There is no secret formula they used to get there other than hard work, and following the proper principles, some of which are outlined in this list.

For young people with little work experience, the results show that it is important to learn the boundaries of a company before pushing the envelope. One important lesson to learn is that the bigger and older the company, the more resistant it is to new ideas and change. So be patient, don’t expect changes to happen overnight even if the changes are for the better. There are processes and procedures that everyone must follow and you are no exception. Keep your eyes open and wait for the right opportunities to make your inputs and make an impression.

Once you have a few years under your belt, and you have proven you ability to follow the rules and procedures of the company, results show that building confidence is your way up the next few rungs of the ladder. Confidence is built from taking on challenging assignments and delivering solid results. The more you prove that you can do, the more responsibility your superiors will give to you. If you have distinguished yourself from the pack, when a position opens up, your name will be among those considered.

My other recommendation is to find out more on your own. One of the best methods of becoming successful is to model those who are successful. Find those who you look up to and have accomplished what you wish to accomplish. Study what they have done to get to where they are and find the commonalities among them. Develop a system for success based on their experiences and you will be well on your own way to success.

If you found this list to be helpful, please leave a comment below and share your experience. Feedback is always welcome!

Categories: Technology Tags: ,
  1. January 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Great post Andy.

    • Andy Huang
      January 3, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks Vinay, just trying to help people out there with good info.

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