Getting a promotion is how I prove to myself I'm getting better at my job
Promoted from within shows the people who work with me on a daily basis know my value and that it is greater than my current position. I've shown my potential and have proven to be invaluable at the company.
The path to promotion is a bit unclear, though. Many times it takes politics and doing work that isn't core to my value.
I argue that the only value that matters is what gets most out of me for the company. What I value isn't the same thing the company values.
All of this is fine. Good even. I work for a company. I'm providing my time for value the company needs. More than that, the value I provide is greater than the paycheck and benefits I receive.
The downside of this is that it is possible for me to continue to provide more value while getting the same in return. So, what to do?
Work with my manager to find a path forward to a greater role and more enjoyable and impactful work. She might have a better understanding of what I can provide to the company while also being compensated fairly.
When the time comes, I'll find my worth in the market and use that information combined with my personal wants and needs. That will educate a salary and benefits that I personally need to do the work of a new position.
Switching companies is the only way I know my market value
I'll be honest, without receiving an offer, I don't know what I'm worth in the market. It might be impostor syndrome or having a narrow view of the world. Once someone else puts my value into an offer, it becomes more certain.
The best way to do this is to always be networking. Don't wait until you want an offer to connect with people.
Switching companies may not be necessary, perhaps just exploration and maybe an offer.
Don't hesitate to network with fellow engineers and recruiters.