What You Need To Know About Job Promotions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 13, 2021 | Published April 17, 2020

Updated May 13, 2021

Published April 17, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Job Cast: How To Get Promoted to a Leadership Role

Author, speaker and leadership expert Emilie Aries of Bossed Up gives tips to help increase your chances of getting a promotion.

A single job position can often lead to career advancements. Taking on additional responsibilities, completing projects that are above-average and improving your skills in the workplace are all advancements you can make that can lead to a job promotion. A job promotion differs from advancement, though, and knowing the differences can help you determine when to ask for a promotion. In this article, we explore what a job promotion is, how it differs from advancement and several key rules to think about when asking for a job promotion.

What is a promotion?

A job promotion is when an employer moves an employee up in the hierarchical levels within an organization. A promotion typically allows an employee to progress to a higher position, a higher level of responsibility and higher levels of authority within the organization. For instance, a junior business analyst may seek a promotion that leads to an associate analyst position. Additionally, job promotions usually come with a salary increase. In the case of a junior analyst's promotion to associate analyst, the salary increases accordingly.

Read more: 9 Tips on How to Get Promoted at Work

Promotion vs. advancement

Promotions differ from advancements in several key aspects. Generally, job advancements encompass developmental aspects while promotions encompass moving up to higher-level roles within an organization. Additional aspects that differ between promotions and advancements include:

  • Upward mobility

  • Compensation

  • Performance

  • Development

Upward mobility

The biggest difference between a job promotion and an advancement in your career is the opportunity for upward mobility. Typically, a job promotion means you move up in position while advancements in your career place emphasis on gaining more knowledge or developing a deeper understanding of your role. For example, an entry-level position tends to come with opportunities for upward mobility where employees can move up to more senior-level roles. While advances can help you qualify for a job promotion, you may remain in the same position.

Compensation

Promotions often include a pay raise. Employers who offer higher-level roles know that with a more senior-level position comes a salary that reflects it. Career advancements generally keep employees at the same salary level.

For instance, a registered nurse promoted to a higher-level position such as a registered nurse manager earns a higher salary than in their previous role, especially since the higher-level job requires additional certification and training. Conversely, a registered nurse who wants to make a lateral move into a specific department like triage and emergency care may advance in this case, but their salary may remain the same.

Performance

Job promotions can come with some parameters. For one, employers usually expect employees to greatly exceed the general job requirements and show initiative and even leadership qualities that make them a candidate for promotion. Advances in your career, however, can encompass the tasks and responsibilities you take on to further develop your skills and expertise.

For example, voluntarily attending professional development training, spending extra time at the office mastering a new skill or offering to lead monthly team meetings are ways you can make advancements in your career. Then, these advancements can lead to a job promotion.

Development

A job promotion is evidence of your readiness for a higher-level position within your organization. Making advances in your career, though, means taking steps to deepen your industry knowledge, improve your skills and make goals that help you develop in your career. While a job promotion proves you have achieved the qualifications necessary to move up in seniority, advancement is what you do to achieve that growth and development.

Learn more: 11 Ways to Achieve Career Advancement

When is it appropriate to ask for a promotion?

Determining the most opportune time to ask for a promotion can depend on several factors. For instance, the length of time you have worked in your current role and your company's culture can give you insight into when it would be appropriate to ask for a promotion. Since every organization is different, the following criteria can help you determine the best time to ask for a promotion:

  • Demonstrate above-average qualities

  • Provide specific data and examples

  • Take on additional responsibilities

  • Show how you have been an asset

Demonstrate above-average qualities

An appropriate time to consider a promotion is when you have consistently demonstrated qualities that highlight your success in exceeding managerial expectations. Exceeding expectations and demonstrating above-average qualities encompasses more than performance, though. Demonstrating your motivation and desire to help your company achieve objectives in addition to your own can be crucial for positioning yourself as an above-average employee.

Provide specific data and examples

If you can show what you have done to contribute to your company and provide data and examples of your success, it could be an appropriate time to ask for a promotion. Employers want specific examples of your work ethic and development that justify your request. Consider gathering examples of past work or projects that can highlight how you have improved and advanced in your current position. This way you will have a solid case for asking your employer for a promotion.

Take on additional responsibilities

As you spend more time in your role, you can take on additional responsibilities that are outside of your traditional job requirements to show your team leader or manager that you are motivated to help your team achieve objectives. For instance, if you have several years of experience in your current position, volunteer to mentor and help train new hires.

Additionally, find ways to take on more challenging tasks like leading a small team to complete a project out of your normal scope of work. When you show initiative to take on more responsibilities and accept challenges, you show your employer that you are committed to advancing in your career.

Show how you have been an asset

Generally, employers like to know that when they invest in an employee's advancement, it will be a benefit to the company. As you develop in your career, you are likely to acquire various traits and expertise that show how you are an asset to your organization. For instance, you might develop your ability to lead client meetings that consistently result in client acquisition success. Then you can use this data to support your reasons behind asking for a promotion.

When you continuously show your employer that you can benefit your team and achieve objectives, they are more likely to consider promoting you. It is also important that you show your employer how you can further benefit the company when you move up to your desired position.

Essentially, it's important to only consider asking for a promotion when you are ready to take on the higher-level role. Additionally, it can be more advantageous to request a promotion when you can support your request with solid evidence of these criteria.

Related: When to Ask for a Promotion (and How to Do It Effectively)

What are some rules for asking for a promotion?

When you decide to ask your employer for a promotion, there are several best practices to consider as you make your request:

  • Research the position.

  • Compile your data.

  • Speak with your employer.

  • Prioritize company goals.

  • Show how you made improvements.

Research the position

Find out about the position you are considering. If you are preparing your promotion request for an internal position, meet with the current employee to discuss the job. For instance, ask about the specific requirements, tasks they commonly performed, what to expect on the job and the salary increase you can expect. Information like this can give you an idea of the examples to use to support your request, along with an idea of what to expect when discussing the salary requirements for your desired position.

Related: How to Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

Compile your data

Gather your performance reviews, feedback from colleagues and managers and additional data that gives evidence of your achievements at work. Having supporting examples of how you consistently achieve objectives outside of your job description can show your employer why you deserve a promotion.

Speak with your employer

It is important to approach your employer directly regarding your promotion request. Speak with your employer to set up a time to meet when it is convenient for them. Approaching your employer in this manner showcases your confidence and highlights your consideration for their schedule. This can result in a comfortable and amicable conversation when you meet to discuss your request for promotion.

Prioritize company goals

Your employer most likely wants to know exactly how you contribute to the growth of the company. Be prepared to discuss examples of how you prioritized the company's goals during your time in the workplace. For instance, give examples of how you kept your team motivated to meet tight deadlines, helped colleagues improve their productivity to reach revenue goals or how you used another approach to consistently maintain your company's mission.

Show how you made improvements

Another rule for asking for a promotion is to show how you have made significant gains or improvements within your current role. For example, if you take it upon yourself to attend annual training seminars to improve your professional skills, discuss it with your employer. Providing evidence of how you take initiative and stay motivated to learn more and develop in your career shows employees why you may deserve a promotion.

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