How to ask for a promotion

Looking for a promotion? How to ask for it

To ask for a promotion is a big deal, but when the time is right (that’s the first tip), you need to put yourself forward. If you consider the alternative of staying exactly where you are until your expiry date, then that’s not much of a long term career plan …!

Here’s some ways of approaching, and preparing yourself for, this slightly daunting exercise.

Time it right and be tactful

Clearly, barging into your boss’s office at 9am on a Monday morning while they’re on an important conference call, and on a tight deadline, is not exactly being tactful. It is imperative that you time it right and ensure you’re fully prepared. So where to start?

  • Suggest a meeting time with your boss at a time that you know suits them. Often, an annual review is the best time for promotion talk, however when you know someone is leaving or there are organisational changes afoot, then you need pounce earlier!
  • Prepare for the meeting with a clear plan, commit it to paper and use it as the agenda for the meeting. What is the result you want? Are you looking for more money or is this promotion about valuable and strategic experience?
  • In your plan, include what other options you may be willing to consider, such as a small pay rise and a clearer career path to where you want to be.
  • Remind yourself of your career goals so you can explain these in the meeting.
  • Be prepared for an answer that you don’t like, and think about how you might respond to this.

Have all your ducks in a row

Come to the meeting with solid research to back up your request. This is not a fishing trip and a case of throwing a line out in the direction of your boss and seeing what you can reel in in terms of your next career move.

  • You must have evidence that shows how worthwhile you are to your employer. What are your achievements, what is your performance on projects, what responsibilities and skills do you have? You must have numbers to back it up, so bring those too.
  • Research what on average your potential future role would pay.
  • Take into account your skills, experience, location and sector when researching market rates, and set a minimum benchmark for what you’d accept.
  • Form a list of the companies’ goals and objectives, and consider how you would help achieve those goals should you get a promotion.

Make sure you’re noticed

To be considered for a promotion, you need to have impressed your boss or other decision makers within the business.

  • Put up your hand for extra responsibilities.
  • Ask for, and take up, professional development opportunities.
  • Do plenty of internal and external networking, so you know what’s happening in your sector. Include online networking such as forums, discussion boards and seminars, gathering valuable inside industry information.

A good way to structure the conversation itself is to ‘sandwich’ the request:

First convey how you are enjoying the business and how you have contributed to the success. Secondly share your career ambitions and plans, dovetailing that into the opportunity you see for promotion. Finally, explain how your promotion would be advantageous to the business (as in, seeing people promoted within the business rather than external recruitment is motivational to others, as a newly promoted person you’re bound to have that extra motivation to do the job well, and your boss is going to look good by having developed an internal talent).

Let me know if you need help, good luck!

Maarten Jonckers