In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to be involved in both sides of the promotional process: as a participant and as an interviewer. Both are stressful and will challenge you. You must be able to pull from your training, education, experience and coaching in both circumstances to arrive at a positive decision and hopefully with a successful outcome.
This post is going to focus on being the participant in these processes. In my classes on officer development I try to hammer home the point about creating a consistent and complete body of work as a firefighter. What I mean by that is your career should be a frequent set of events and effort at improving and maturing. It should include a conscious decision to determine your path to your future in the fire service accompanied by specific goals and objectives to get where you want to be.
Too many see obstacles or find that the effort needed to be consistent is just too much and decide to drift along until the situation arrives that they originally were seeking, and now they have to cram to try and get caught up. Most don't do well when cramming for a final or mid-term exam compared to those that have studied over a long period of time in small, consistent sessions. Your career is very similar.
If you are waiting for the perfect time or for the promotion to arise to start preparing, you're already way late! We all want our ship to come in, but in many cases it doesn't reach the dock or the shore. You need to be prepared to swim out to it and climb on!