How to Ask for a Promotion

Determine your value, master new skills and don’t let “no” deter you. As cost-of-living grows, here’s how to ask for an inflation-busting promotion.

Written by Roman Peskin
How to Ask for a Promotion
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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UPDATED BY
Matthew Urwin | Dec 06, 2023

Asking for a promotion can open the door to new career opportunities and more financial security. But with businesses also counting the costs, employees must consider how to increase the value they offer and effectively present their case to convince their employer they’re deserving of more.

How to Ask For a Promotion

  1. Do your research and determine your value.
  2. Master new skills and seek more responsibility.
  3. Support your request with examples and hard data.
  4. Keep calm and avoid common negotiation mistakes.
  5. Don’t let a “no” stall your career progression.

Every business has its pains. As an employee, you must make yourself a “painkiller,” honing your skills, taking on greater responsibility and showing your manager you’re ready to take the next step in your professional career.

Do your research, build your case, then ask the question. If you possess the skills and can demonstrate your value, your employer is likely to accommodate your request.

 

When to Ask for a Promotion

You’ve Mastered Your Current Role

Consistently delivering high-quality work and fulfilling all your responsibilities can help you make the case you’re ready for the next step in your career.

 

You’ve Taken on Extra Responsibilities

Taking on an extra task or two isn’t unusual for many positions, but handling much heavier workloads or long-term projects outside your role may signal a promotion is warranted.

 

You’ve Progressed Rapidly

Addressing areas of improvement from a past performance review shows you’re able to respond positively to constructive criticism and demonstrate the professional growth your manager wants to see, especially if your company promotes from within.

 

You’ve Created Value for the Organization

If your work has been a key contributor to the success of the company, you may be in a good position to ask for a promotion.

 

What to Avoid When Asking for a Promotion 

Don’t Emphasize Your Tenure

Demanding a raise simply because you’ve been at the company for a period of time won’t go over well. In fact, it may make you appear as entitled. What you’ve done matters more than how long you’ve been around, so center the discussion on your impact and growth.

 

Don’t Point to Coworkers Who Received Promotions

If you argue you’ve done more work than those who earned promotions, this can be viewed as trash-talking your colleagues. This is the opposite of being a team player and leader, and your manager may use this as an argument against you getting promoted.

 

Don’t Make an Emotional Appeal

Even if you have a healthy relationship with your manager, they still need a reason to vouch for your promotion, so provide concrete data and examples of your success. Keep the focus on your professional accomplishments

 

Don’t Ignore Market Conditions

The last thing you want to do is ask for a promotion during an economic downturn or after mass layoffs. This makes you seem inconsiderate and selfish. Wait until you know the business is on more stable financial ground before starting this conversation.  

 

5 Tips for Securing a Promotion 

1. Do Your Research and Determine Your Value

Before approaching your employer, first determine whether your current salary meets the market benchmark. Salary tools can help you search by industry, job title and location to figure out whether you’re being paid a fair wage. If your salary is below the average, negotiations are likely in order.

If your salary is in line with the average, perhaps it’s the right time to take that next step. But here, timing is everything. Early-career employees should be pushing for a promotion and the financial boost it provides every two to three years. However, those on the higher rungs of the career ladder may face a longer wait.

More on Career DevelopmentHow Do I Grow My Career as a Remote Worker?

 

2. Master New Skills and Seek More Responsibility

Improving your skill set is a sure-fire way to move up the corporate ladder. Scour job boards to determine skills and roles in demand in your niche and consider any learning opportunities that will help you progress.

However, don’t rush into a course without due diligence and don’t fall for internet thought leaders long on social media followers but short on industry experience. Check the course leader’s background on LinkedIn and the course reviews on Trustpilot to ensure it’s worth your time and resources.

Speaking to your manager may also help to identify skills that will support your progression, while making it clear that you’re open to taking on more responsibility.

 

3. Support Your Request With Examples and Hard Data

When discussing a potential promotion, your employer will want to determine whether your services will provide adequate value at the price you’re demanding just like any other business deal.

In addition to highlighting the responsibilities you’ve taken on, use examples to demonstrate how your input has helped the company’s growth. This could be by securing lucrative deals, improving workplace efficiency or reducing unnecessary expenses. 

And don’t just tell them. Show them. It’s estimated that up to 85 percent of our cognition is mediated through vision. This means the average person is far more likely to respond to what they see than what they hear, so prepare a short deck that visually outlines your value.

 

4. Keep Calm and Avoid Common Negotiation Mistakes

While such discussions can be frustrating, keep the conversation positive. Not only will staying composed show that you cope well under pressure — a valuable skill in any workplace — but you’re also more likely to present your case effectively

Even if discussions aren’t going to plan, ultimatums are best avoided. This will only raise questions about your commitment, which is unlikely to strengthen your case.

Once concluded, give your employer time to consider what they can offer. Budgets may be tight under such difficult economic conditions and rubber-stamping a promotion may require sign-offs from various parties.

More on Career DevelopmentHow to Counter Offer in a Salary Negotiation

 

5. Don’t Let a ‘No’ Stall Your Career Progression

Even with suitable skills and a perfect pitch, there’s no guarantee you’ll get that promotion. If discussions don’t go your way, consider requesting alternative perks. A small salary bump, training opportunities or flexible working could help to ease the stress of any financial pressures and aid you in reaching that next step.

In the meantime, continue to learn, take on new workplace challenges and increase the value you provide. Once it’s time to revisit negotiations, your case will be impossible for your employer to ignore.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s usually appropriate to ask for a promotion when you believe you have earned one, but be prepared to provide concrete data and accomplishments that justify your request. 

It depends on the type of company you work for. At a smaller startup, you may stay for two years before moving on to seek a higher position. At a larger company, it may make sense to stay for four to five years until you’re either promoted or ready for another opportunity.

When asking for a promotion, don’t emphasize your tenure, compare yourself to other employees who received promotions or bring up personal troubles.

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