If you’re a hard worker who excels at your job, you’re likely ready for the next step in your career. If you’re due for a promotion but haven’t yet received one, it’s time to take things into your own hands. However, it’s vital to approach asking for a promotion strategically. Having a serious discussion with your boss and stating you’d like a promotion can get awkward, which is why you should handle it with patience and care.
1. Understand the timing
Receiving a yearly promotion is typical, but depending on the industry you’re in, your promotion trajectory may be different. Understanding your industry’s timing for career advancement can help you gauge if it’s time for you to ask for a promotion. However, if your industry doesn’t give yearly promotions, and you feel as you’ve done an outstanding job in your current role and are ready for more, don’t be afraid to ask for a promotion! Asking for a promotion also has a lot to do with timing. It probably wouldn’t be wise to ask for one during a busy season when your boss is stressed out. Keep in mind that every industry is different, so do what’s best for you.
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2. Gather information to make your case
Before asking for a promotion, you should build a strong case as to why you deserve one. You can’t ask outright for a promotion and expect to get it right away, so gather examples of your work and think of instances where you demonstrated core company values. You should also have examples of how you would manage your added responsibilities in your new role. If you want to go all out on impressing your boss, create a presentation and walk them through it. You should also send them the presentation so they’ll have it on file. That way they’ll have something to reference when they’re thinking over whether it’s time to give you a promotion.
3. Think about the company (not just yourself)
Keep in mind that promotions aren’t only about you or other employees. When a company decides to promote someone, they think about whether it’d be a wise decision for the company as a whole. Similar to when you interview for a job opportunity, it’s essential to communicate why you are an excellent fit for the new role. You should also discuss how your expertise will help the company now and in the future.
4. Begin taking on more responsibilities
If you haven’t already, it’s in your best interest to start taking on more responsibilities to show your boss that you’re capable of expanding your skill set. Just don’t overload yourself with new tasks or it could backfire. Make sure you’re still performing well in your current job. However, if you can handle taking on new responsibilities by effectively executing them, doing this will undoubtedly help your case. It may take a while for a boss to acknowledge your new efforts, so don’t feel like you have to add everything at once. Otherwise you’ll get burned out. Find the right balance of performing well at your current job while taking on some of the newer responsibilities.
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5. Reflect on your career path
During this time of change, consider how you’d like to advance your career.
Questions to ask yourself before asking for a promotion:
- How will this promotion impact where I want to be in my career?
- Will my promotion open up new opportunities?
- What are my goals? Does asking for a promotion align with my goals?
- If I ask for a promotion, will I still have enough time to spend with my family? Or will my personal life suffer?
- Is asking for a promotion worth it?
- Am I thinking about leaving my company in the near future?
As you can see by the questions, taking the time to define your goals will help you seriously consider whether you’d really like a promotion. If you’re thinking about moving on from the company, chances are asking for a promotion won’t make you happy.
6. Plant a seed
Another thing to keep in mind is that when asking for a promotion, it’s likely going to take a few conversations to put a bug in their ear or get the ball rolling. If you’ve been casually hinting at wanting a promotion to your boss or they’ve mentioned that they’re considering you for a new position, you’re one step closer to securing your new role.
What to do to move the process along:
- Express interest in a new position early on and go from there.
- Don’t be afraid to remind your boss once in a while.
- Mentally prepare yourself for the potential switch.
- Familiarize yourself with the department (if you’re switching over and meeting new people at work) and know everyone’s name.
7. Be patient (to a point)
Promotions aren’t something that will happen overnight, regardless of whether you approached your boss or they were already planning to give you one. They take time, processing, and collaboration with the HR team. If things are taking a long time, don’t be afraid to put on some pressure. If you’ve already been promised a promotion and are wondering why everything is taking so long, arrange a meeting with your boss. You can ask your boss and the team what you need to do to speed things along. If the pieces aren’t falling into place and your boss says the promotion is coming but doesn’t follow through, it may be time to consider employment elsewhere. Having a counter offer may also help you leverage a promotion, but this route should be done with extra care, seeing as how this could backfire against you.
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Getting a promotion won’t happen overnight, even though you wish it would. But don’t give up hope, because there are plenty of things you can do to get the ball rolling. Be brave and believe in your abilities by asking for a promotion, or seek out a new job if things don’t turn out as you would have hoped. Ultimately, you must do what’s right and consider which decisions will best align with your goals now and in the future.
Looking for more great career advice? Check out our Internships and Careers section.