Why Working Your Way Out of a Job Is a Good Thing (and How to Do It)

​Working your way out of a job might sound like a bad thing: after all, at the end, you ...

​Working your way out of a job might sound like a bad thing: after all, at the end, you don’t have a job.

But that’s far from the case. Anyone who’s effective and skilled enough to work themselves out of their current position is highly valuable to their company, meaning they’re generously rewarded with a promotion.

So, how do you land yourself in this coveted position? Let’s break it down.

1. Document everything

As a thought experiment, think about what would happen if you quit tomorrow. Would your replacement have a relatively easy time stepping into your role, or would they be completely lost?

It all depends on documentation: the notes you’ve created detailing your processes, tools, historical results, and analysis of those results. Good documentation is crucial; it’s like creating a back-up of your brain.

These resources will be extremely useful if you need to train a new team member or backfill (making it that much easier to promote you!).

Start taking comprehensive notes on every important aspect of your job. If you can, share them in a public forum, like the company Wiki or your team’s shared document drive, so they’re easy to access—and you get credit.

2. Train your team members

Identify knowledge or abilities you have that some or all of your coworkers don’t. Then figure out if it could be a good training opportunity. Not only does this help the entire team develop, but it means that you’re not the only person who knows how to do something important.

For example, maybe you’re a whiz at Excel. Host an optional class on Excel shortcuts and key tasks. Or perhaps you design amazing PowerPoints. Ask anyone if they’re interested in a “master class” on creating presentations.

You’ll score points with your coworkers and manager, get an opportunity to flex your skills, and boost the team. It’s a win for everyone.

3. Take on stretch assignments

Part of working yourself out of your role is volunteering for new, challenging assignments so that your job evolves over time.

To give you an idea, suppose you were hired as a campus recruiter. After a year, you start exploring new ways to recruit candidates, such as advertising on public transit and going to industry conferences. Eventually, you’ve delegated the campus part of your job and are focusing solely on these alternative pipelines. This puts you in line for a promotion, as you’ve basically already promoted yourself.