When and How to Ask for a Job Promotion

By Madison White on January 24, 2019

For many, the idea of asking for a promotion is daunting, but don’t let that dissuade you from considering it. If you are a reliable, responsible, and ambitious worker, then you would likely make a great candidate for a promotion.

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1. The When

While time does not always equal effort, it is necessary to consider how much time you have spent working in this company. If you have been at this company for less than six months, it may not yet a good idea to ask for a promotion. It is likely that you are still developing your knowledge of the processes, expectations, and responsibilities involved.

If you are still fairly new, but feel you could be doing more, you could ask your supervisor or manager for some tasks with more responsibility involved. This will show initiative while also allowing yourself to build up your skills without having to take a huge leap before you’re ready.

In some companies, you will go through a probation period where they will review your work after around 3-6 months. This is a great time to discuss with your supervisors any changes you may like to see to your responsibilities, tasks, and pay.

Similarly, if you have just switched to a new role, it probably isn’t the best time to ask for a promotion. Even though you may have short term success already, you need to show your colleagues that you will have long term success too. Give yourself some time to really dedicate yourself to this role. If you aren’t feeling like you are doing enough, talk to the workers above you about some ideas you might have for improvement.

2. The Why

The next step is to figure out why you are wanting a promotion. It could be a range of things from boredom to money to ambition, or a combination of all three. You’re also going to need to begin gathering information from your boss about why you’d make a good candidate for a promotion, or perhaps why you are better off in the role you have now.

The feedback culture of each company is going to vary widely. It is essential that you receive feedback from your boss to know how to improve. If your company regularly gives you feedback and holds meetings about your progress, think about the things said, especially things that have been repeated. If your feedback is mostly positive, and you’ve been working hard on strengthening your weaknesses, it may be time for you to ask for a promotion. If your feedback is mostly negative, you may want to take some more time to fix the recurring issues before tackling new things.

If you work somewhere that doesn’t give regular feedback, it is a good idea to seek some out to know where you stand. Ask your supervisor or boss to schedule a meeting with you to discuss your work thus far and come up with ways to keep improving. After the meeting, take into consideration what you can improve on and put forth your efforts towards those things. If your meeting was mostly positive, this may be your cue to ask for a promotion.

It is very important that you meet with your supervisor specifically to discuss your progress and your contributions so far. You should not be making assumptions about your work based on day-to-day comments. Most often, the things discussed every day will be negative: things that need fixed or have gone wrong. A job well done can easily go unnoticed. If you solely base your judgment on the day-to-day, you may have a more negative view of yourself which may not be accurate.

3. The How

It is essential that you speak to your boss directly when asking for a promotion. In the case that your boss doesn’t have a lot of influence, then you’ll want to speak to someone with an even higher role, perhaps the CEO. Make sure to set up a meeting that allows plenty of time for you to pitch your promotional case and plenty of time for follow-up questions and negotiation.

By this point, you should have gathered some key information about your success in the company and why you think you’re suited for a promotion. If there is a specific vacant role that you’re after, make sure you touch on how you would take on the aspects of that role.

No conversation will go exactly the same, but remember to always remain calm, confident, and respectful regardless of the outcome.

Although scary at first, the task of asking for a promotion can be broken down into easier, more manageable steps. Remember to believe in your abilities and act on those beliefs. You’ll be on your way to a better role in no time.

Madison graduated with her Master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester (UK), and holds Bachelor's degrees in English and Creative Writing from Wichita State University. She currently teaches English at Wichita State University and works as a freelance writer and blogger on her website Madison White Writes and elsewhere.

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