Need a promotion? Here are the Dos and Don’ts

If you feel like you deserve a promotion but are nervous about asking for one, here’s how to go about raising the subject with your employer, from making your case to reacting to the answer.

Asking for a promotion can make you feel you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position but to advance your career, you will sometimes need to advocate for yourself and ask for what you want. There is a lot to be said for the phrase “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”!

Ask yourself what you really want

Why do you want a promotion? Do you feel as if your current level of responsibility is too easy and you need a new challenge? Is promotion the next logical step in your existing career plan? Has your company advertised a job that you want to apply for? Are you considering changing your career path? Or are you simply looking for a pay rise? There are many reasons why you might want to ask for a promotion and understanding your motivations will help you prepare for the conversation.

Do your research

Once you’ve worked out exactly what you want to gain from your promotion,

you need to do some thorough preparation in order to build your case wisely. Find out what structures are already in place in your company. It may be that there is a specific application process you are expected to go through or several key decision-makers that you need to impress. It may also be worth exploring where you currently stand within your company and how likely you are to get what you want. How are you perceived by management and your peers? Are you someone that people are willing to listen to and follow? You could also research how some more senior colleagues in your company achieved their promotions and, if it is appropriate, consider inviting them for coffee to pick their brains.

Build you case

Asking for a promotion is much like applying for any job – you must consider your strengths and weaknesses and what you can bring to the role and the company, then present your case in a compelling way. Don’t focus on ‘what’s in it for me?’ but instead, demonstrate what you can do for them. Emphasise what you have already accomplished and how you are already surpassing the current remit of your role. Next, outline the role you want, show that you understand what this will involve and that you are more than capable of doing it. Give examples of how you have already performed similar duties and give specific examples of how you’re the right person for the job.

Pick the right time and ask for a meeting

As a rule of thumb, people don’t like being caught off guard. In an ideal world, you would ask for your promotion at your annual review or similar, as it’s an opportunity ready-made for discussing your future.

Otherwise, you should pick your time wisely. If there is a lot of change going on at your company, this could also be a good opportunity to take advantage of. Perhaps a few people are getting promoted or leaving, maybe your department is repositioning itself within the company, or the company as a whole is experiencing a period of growth. Once you’ve picked your moment, send your boss (or your HR/People Team) an email asking them for a meeting to discuss your performance and future at the company.

Tips for during the meeting

During the meeting, calmly make your case and listen to their reply. Be patient and realistic. Your manager is unlikely to offer you a promotion on the spot, as they will have a decision-making process they need to follow. If they say they don’t think you’re ready, don’t be reckless and threaten to leave. Keep your cool and ask them what you can do to make yourself ready. Agree on a timeframe to meet again and leave the discussion open.

If nothing else, you will have come away having planted the seed with your employer that you want to grow and learn. Asking for and achieving a promotion is often an ongoing conversation that takes time.