Career Development

How To Ask for a Promotion

February 15, 2021

When you’re ready to take on more responsibilities and work on new projects, it may be time to ask for a promotion. It can be an intimidating process but learning when and how to make the request can make things easier–and could certainly be beneficial for your career.

In this article, we will discuss the best way to ask for a promotion.

How to prepare and ask for a promotion

You can follow these seven steps to prepare and ask for a promotion:

  1. Consider your motivations.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Seek ideal opportunities.
  4. Develop your case.
  5. Find the perfect time.
  6. Start the conversation.
  7. Follow up regularly.

1. Consider your motivations

Before asking your manager for a promotion, it’s important to know exactly what you want to achieve. Start the process by thinking through your motivations. Common reasons include:

  • Gaining more responsibility
  • Learning higher-level skills
  • Moving to a different department or team
  • Earning a higher salary
  • Getting a leadership or management role

Once you’ve narrowed down your motivations to one or two driving forces, consider how they factor into your company’s mission or strategic plan. If you can align your professional goals with your organization’s plan, you’re more likely to make a strong case for your promotion.

2. Do your research

Every company has its own unique promotion process, and you’ll want to make sure you approach your request in the most effective way. 

First, find out if your company has an official promotion procedure to use as a guideline. You can review your employee handbook or contact a human resources representative for information. Next, speak with colleagues who have received promotions, especially at the level you’d like to achieve. Be sure to inquire about the timeline they followed, the managers they spoke with and the case they presented. You may not get an exact formula, but you’ll gain valuable data.

Finally, start gauging your coworkers’ impressions of you and your readiness to advance within the company. Your peers’ perceptions of your leadership skills, management abilities and work ethic can all impact whether you’ll receive the promotion you want. If those around you believe in your capacity for leadership, you can take their support as a sign that you’re ready for a promotion.

3. Seek ideal opportunities

As you research the right route to advancement, look for opportunities that can help you achieve your career goals. To increase your chance of a successful promotion request, strive to be the first to know about future opportunities.

As soon as you hear about an upcoming opening, talk with the person who will be vacating the position. Ask for details about the role, including the challenges and perks. Inquire about skills or experience you might need for the role so you can ensure that you’re adequately prepared. 

If your company doesn’t already have a role that fits into your career goals, try proposing a new position. Consider how the role you want to create relates to the company’s strategic plan and how it meets both current and future organizational needs. To get support for an innovative proposal, you’ll want to make sure it benefits you and your organization.

4. Develop your case

Once you’ve decided to move forward with your request, take the time to develop a strong case. Aim to balance your past accomplishments and future goals. You’ll want to highlight all the impressive contributions you’ve made and explain how what you’ve achieved has prepared you to pursue new career goals.

Begin by outlining your major accomplishments since your last promotion. If you don’t have a current list, use your previous year-end reviews or your team’s project calendar to get started. Include as many facts, figures and statistics as possible to support your claims.

As you develop your case, consider your original motivations and your company’s strategic goals. If your organization established a goal of increasing revenues by a certain amount, show how you contributed. If your company aimed to improve productivity, reach new markets or surpass benchmarks, use data to show how you’ve helped meet these larger objectives.

Make note of the steps you’ve taken to prepare yourself. From training sessions and advanced classes to professional development initiatives and challenging responsibilities, illustrate the many ways you’re already working at the level you want to achieve. By offering this information, you can help decision-makers envision you in the role you want, moving you another step closer to a promotion.

Related: How To Show a Promotion on Your Resume

5. Find an appropriate time

When requesting a promotion at work, finding a good time to start a conversation is just as important as making a strong case. Asking at the right time could increase your chance of success substantially.

Try timing your promotion request to accompany good news. Perhaps you’ve just signed a big new client or accomplished a major goal. Maybe your company has just reported substantial revenues for the quarter. Either way, asking for a promotion during a successful period for your company is a great way to take advantage of positive momentum.

Related: How To Write a Promotion Request Letter

6. Start the conversation

Before making an official request, practice the conversation. Make a list of questions your manager is likely to ask so you can respond appropriately. Think about the objections your supervisor might raise so you can offer solutions. Practice using a professional tone and positive body language to make your case as compelling as possible.

Schedule a meeting with your manager or other key decision-makers. You’ll want to make sure your manager is just as prepared as you are to have a productive conversation.

Although this meeting will be the first time you’ve made a formal request, your appeal shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to your manager. Instead, your supervisor should be able to expect your request based on your excellent performance. Several months before starting this conversation, make a point of exceeding expectations and striving to stand out as a top performer.

Once you start the conversation, state your request. Explain what you’ve accomplished and use the data you gathered to support your statements. Mention any positive feedback you’ve received, then discuss your career goals and the future opportunities you’d like to realize. Clarify how your accomplishments and goals align with the organization’s objectives so your manager can present a convincing case to executives.

Read more: How To Prepare for a Promotion Interview

7. Follow up regularly

Your manager may not give you an answer immediately. In most cases, raises and titles require more than one level of approval, so your supervisor may have to present your case to directors or executives.

Since the promotion process could take weeks, you’ll need to have a strategy for following up with your manager. During your initial conversation, ask your supervisor for an approximate timeline. Make sure you follow up at appropriate times. Each time you follow up, make sure the conversation is about more than your request for an update. Be prepared to discuss additional steps you’ve taken to improve performance or new accomplishments you’ve achieved.

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