1. Don't do what you are told.
More precisely, never "settle" for doing "only" what you're told; always try to do a little something extra. Ask yourself, "Why did he/she request this of me, and what can I do to deliver more than they want?" As Martin puts it, "The way you get promoted is not by doing what you are told, but by taking the initiative to do more..."
2. Under promise and over deliver.
The idea is to get your manager to recognize you as one who frequently exceeds expectations. My old friend Jay Trachman used to brag that one of his proudest achievements as a beginning jock was to empty the "in" basket in the production studio each evening before going home. He didn't steal other people's voice work, but anything routine that simply required dubbing to cart, or copying with a tag -- he finished. Not only did he get a rep for doing something extra, but he also learned production. By the time he was ready to seek his next job, he could sell himself as a "production Wiz!"
3. Always make your boss look good.
One of my favorite old sayings: "There's no limit to what you can achieve, if you don't care who gets the credit." And when the person getting the credit is in a position to reward you with a promotion or a pay increase, well -- that sounds to me like the best kind of rational selfishness.
Top qualities of people who get promoted:
- They work for a company and for leaders they respect and admire. In part, this means quit whining about the lousy outfit you work for, if you do, and find something more to your liking. It may not happen in a day or even a year, but if you're unhappy where you are, and settle, you're settling on your own hopes and aspirations. Never stop looking until you find someone you can devote your heart and soul to.
- Always keep the "big picture" in mind. Understand how the things you do every day fit into the whole picture. We on-air talents tend to have an inflated view of how important our work is to the company: "Without me, they wouldn't have anything to sell." (Sales people have the same inflated view: "If we didn't sell, they'd starve!") It takes both sides, along with management and support staff, to make the station "work." It's wise to be seen as one who can bridge these gaps -- one who communicates well with all the various departments of the business.
- They have strong technical skills and work hard on technical projects. How many things do you know how to do at the station, besides your own principle tasks? In the age of multi-tasking, the more things you can do, the more valuable you are to the company, and the more secure your job is. It's to your advantage to learn how to sell, create logs, manipulate a data base, etc.
- They work beyond "nine to five" - not just on the work of the day, but by taking classes, reading books and getting extra training that continuously increases their human capital. This is a tricky one for radio people: I don't suggest you "live and breathe" radio, because it's to your advantage, as a performer, to mix with other people and to "have a life." The more different things you do, the more well-rounded a person you become, and the more interesting you are, potentially, on the air. Still: you've heard it a thousand times. This is not a forty-hour-a-week job. Never was, never will be. When things need to be done, the one who's there to do them will be the one the management values. And if, between going to the movies and concerts, and watching the popular TV shows and being active in civic or religious organizations and all the other things we need to do to become a visible member of the community, you also find time to read the trades and an occasional book on how to improve your skills, so much the better.