Thinking about how to ask for a promotion can be exhilarating and terrifying. On the one hand, you could get the job and paycheck you’ve been dreaming about. Then again, you could be shot down and have to seethe in defeat. The conversation with your supervisor can be awkward and at the very least intimidating. But with a well-planned strategy, some practice and a confident attitude, you can at least let your boss know your value.

We’ve developed this guide on how to ask for a promotion that will help you get the money you deserve. So stop thinking about how to get a promotion and go for it. You got this.

Why Do I Need a Strategy to Get a Promotion?


How to Ask for a Promotion

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You could march into your boss’ office and demand a raise because you’re just so wonderful, but that’s not going to get you anywhere. Just as impulsively, your boss will answer with a no. Game over. A strategy on how to ask for a promotion will systematically make a case for you and answer all of the possible ways your boss can say no. Trust us, there are a lot of excuses he or she could use.

Having a strategy will also take away that feeling that you are bragging about yourself. When you truly examine your value, with examples to back up your claims, you will feel more confident that you are worth paying more. It’s not bragging if it’s true, right? Cold, hard facts are going to get you cold, hard cash. You can’t play that by ear. This is your career. You need to put a lot of time and energy into it to get the results you want. 

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Ask for a Promotion


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Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to ask for a promotion, it’s important to review the right and wrong ways to do it. Yes, there are wrong ways to ask for a promotion, so make sure you take notes.

Wrong: Off-the-Cuff

Let’s say you see your boss in the hallway. Don’t mix asking for a promotion into the conversation. It’s not an in-passing topic. “By the way, how about that football game last night? Can I have a raise?” Your boss is going to be caught off guard and no boss likes that. Besides, your career is not watercooler talk, so don’t treat it that way. Instead, use these impromptu meetings as a chance to influence them without them knowing. 

Right: Plant the Idea

Use those casual conversations to let your boss know that you’re willing and able to take on more responsibility. Talk about what you’re working on or any efficiencies that you’ve created. Keep it conversational, but professional. Also, let your boss know that you see the organization as a long-term investment and you’re looking to advance. Be subtle. Mention ways you could help out on projects without trying to take over. Any time there’s an opportunity to volunteer, raise your hand. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you would like to do.

Wrong: Being Passive-Aggressive

So it seems like everyone else has more power and money than you do. That jerk on your team just got promoted to the job you wanted. Now is not the time to go all passive-aggressive. Acknowledge your frustration and move on. It could be tempting to take it out on your co-workers or boss. Stay focused; you have your own promotion to get. No one wants to promote a negative Nancy.

Right: Stay Positive

Hold your head up and present your accomplishments in the best possible light every chance you get. Be optimistic about advancement in the company and grow up. Promotions are not just based on skill or talent. Success in the workplace also depends on your personality. Do you get along with people and stay away from drama? Do you gossip and people know it? It’s time to be the cheerleader and be the person people go to for help. People don’t want to reward people they don’t like.

Wrong: You Have No Evidence

Chances are 99.9 percent of the people you work with want to get a promotion and 100 percent of those think they deserve one. But you have to have evidence that makes financial sense to the company. “Because I’m broke” is never a good reason to promote someone. Whether you like it or not, you have to think of how to ask for a promotion as a little kid asking for a raise in allowance. If you go into the meeting appearing as that kid with your hand out and no numbers, you look foolish. Not only does this say “I didn’t think researching my worth was worth my time,” it says “I am full of myself.”

Right: You Have Data

Raises and promotions become more possible when you present solid metrics and outcomes. This would include money you’ve made the company, money you saved the company, increases in efficiency, decreases in costs, and anything that has to do with money or people. Not only do you have to have statistics, but you also have to state how it helped the company. Even if you have little data, you at least put the effort out there.

8 Tips on How to Ask for a Promotion


Figure Out What You Want

dream job

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The first step in how to ask for a promotion is thinking about what you want. Is it just more money? Do you want more power? Is there already a position you want? Here’s where you might feel a little lost. If you just want the money, you are going to have to justify why you want to get paid more for doing the same job.

If you want to be a boss, is there a place for you? Sometimes there is no upward advancement. How would you propose they create a position for you? Here are some more questions to help you figure it out:


  • How long have you been at your company?
  • Have you delivered results? What are they?
  • Do you know the business better? How does that affect your job?
  • Have you developed new skills? What are they?

If you’ve been at the company a year and the average tenure is 14 years, then you are still new according to company culture. If you have 2 years at a startup, you might have a little more clout. Company time matters. Besides, if you are asking for a promotion a year after you started with the company, you did not negotiate the offer well. That’s on you.

Get Prepared

While figuring out what you want is the first step, preparing for the conversation with your boss is the most important step in how to ask for a promotion. It will take time and effort, and you may feel like you are spinning your wheels, but you have to be ready for anything. You have to know your contributions and the results, you have to know how those results align with company goals, and you have to have a response for the onslaught of excuses your boss will throw at you.

You have to be seen as a top performer and associate with people who are top performers. You have to manage your reputation and be prepared to answer any questions regarding past mistakes. This preparation is 90 percent of the work. 99 percent of people who ask for a promotion do not do this step. This step could take up to a year.

Research Your Mission

You know what you want and you know you need to prepare a case on how to get it. Research is key. How were other people seeking the same type of promotion successful? What are the ways to advance in the company? Some managers hire from within first and others like to bring in new blood. The past is a strong indication of future events.

Find effective strategies by talking to people who have been promoted. Also, ask your coworkers if they think you are ready for a promotion. Your likeability and leadership are important considerations in your quest for a promotion. The process of how to ask for a promotion will make more sense once you complete your research. You shouldn’t even be thinking about a meeting with your boss at this point in the game.

Build a Case for “Yes”

Your manager has all of the “no” answers to your promotion. You’ve got to build a case for him or her to say yes. This can be done with a simple memo of no more than two pages. It should be direct and include a list of outcomes with solid metrics. These can include financial gains or savings, solutions, and any other data that supports your success. You’re letting them know you are already successful at the job you want to be promoted to.

Include any leadership opportunities you’ve had and why having you as a leader made the project more successful. This memo is not for public consumption at this point; just reference it as you have the opportunity to casually let your boss know about what you are working on.

Timing Is Everything

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Don’t be oblivious to bad timing. How to ask for a promotion also includes when to ask. Pay attention to issues affecting the company or your manager. If they just announced lay-offs or a major revenue loss, then chances are no one is getting promoted. If your boss is under an enormous deadline or facing pressure from his or her bosses, then the timing’s no good. You might have to wait until your performance review to broach the subject.

If things at the company seem to be going well, be certain by doing a little more research. Did the budget for next year increase? Was there a major deal that closed? Did your boss make a major win? You’ll also want to know your company’s policies and procedures for promotions. Sometimes they are only allowed at certain times of the year or they require special approval.

Negotiate for What You Want

Sometimes how to ask for a promotion isn’t about having one conversation. It’s a series of continuing conversations. Use the promotion memo as a guide, and have talks with your boss to express how glad you are about working for the company and what you have contributed. Work it into appropriate conversations, but also make sure you’re consistent about your message.

Take On More

How to ask for a promotion is only part of the equation. Showing that you deserve one goes a lot further in proving to yourself and others that you can do the job. You have to start thinking of this from your boss’ perspective. Why should he or she spend more money on you and give you more to do? If you are a parent, you wouldn’t just hand your kids more allowance without expecting them to do more. You should take on more things at a gradual pace. If you are doing the bare minimum and then suddenly want tons of assignments, your efforts will look insincere.

Schedule a Meeting

If the timing looks good, you’ve got your memo and understand the potential pitfalls, now you can schedule a meeting. Keep it to 30 minutes and be sure to send your boss your memo the day of the meeting or hand them a copy at the meeting. The ball is in your court and you’re about to volley one over the net. It will take a few volleys before you get comfortable with the conversation. That’s OK. Even if your boss simply thanks you at the end of the meeting, it’s not a no. Expect a follow-up conversation and keep going.

Conclusion


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Now that you know how to ask for a promotion, you can set the gears in motion. You can stop wishing about a promotion and take action. Take it one step at a time. Even if you get a no, you can keep asking or have a great start on your next job interview.

Thinking about how to ask for a promotion can be exhilarating and terrifying. On the one hand, you could get the job and paycheck you’ve been dreaming about. Then again, you could be shot down and have to seethe in defeat. The conversation with your supervisor can be awkward and at the very least intimidating. But with a well-planned strategy, some practice and a confident attitude, you can at least let your boss know your value.

We’ve developed this guide on how to ask for a promotion that will help you get the money you deserve. So stop thinking about how to get a promotion and go for it. You got this.

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