ask for a promotion

When, Why, and How to Ask for a Promotion

When, Why, and How to Ask for a Promotion

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Treading the waters of uncertainty is common when navigating your place within an organization. Maybe trying to move up the corporate ladder has you contemplating whether or not it’s time to see how much further your career can grow with the company you currently work with.

But how does anyone really know the right time or way to ask for a promotion? Thankfully, that’s one question you can check off your list in the next couple of minutes.

Timing is everything

There’s a saying that often floats around the question of timing, and it’s: “When you know, you’ll know.” But if you’re like most people, then even when you know, you’ll probably still be wondering, “Do I?”

Discussions about your future in the company you work with aren’t limited to semi-annual or annual reviews or a performance review at all. One thing that may keep you from rushing in is knowing that your performance (previous, current, and expected) will be analyzed and can potentially push you forward or hold you back.

When it comes to summoning the courage to ask for a promotion, you’ll know you’re ready when you’re confident that, no matter the outcome, you’ll be moving to a higher level in your career.

You earned it

The most glaring answer to why you should ask for a promotion is, well, because you’ve earned it! If you do more than just a good job and you’ve spent the time mastering your craft to get to the place and pace you’re at now, then you’ve more than paid your dues.

Though getting the opportunity to take on bigger and better roles within an organization isn’t always up to you, your will and desire to do so will get you closer.

Asking for a promotion

Part of asking for a promotion is understanding the difference between what you’ve earned and what you think is owed.

Before asking your superiors, ask yourself the right questions and from the perspective of whoever has the authority to move you forward. For instance, what qualifications, skills, and experience would be needed to get the job done? Are you ready to take on the challenge, or do your day-to-day responsibilities already carry them out?

Putting yourself in the position of judge, jury, and executioner before taking the matter up to your employer can help give you a clear picture of what you’re asking for. After feeling certain that a promotion is well deserved, reframe your needs in a way that highlights how your advancement can benefit all parties involved to get everyone else on board too.

Get the title

Not to get hung up on a name or position, but titles are important. If you’ve already expanded your skillset and reached a fluidity in project and task management for yourself and your team, then you may have outgrown your title.

Of course, titles may not be as big of a deal when compared to the other moving parts of a promotion, such as a raise in pay or the opportunity to grow in general. Whether a promotion comes with a title change or doesn’t, the role itself and responsibilities attached should be clearly defined.

Make the money

Time and effort should reflect in pay, especially if you’re contributing well beyond your current role’s description and expected tasks. Be mindful of the salary range associated with your current role and that which you hope to get, that way neither party is low-balled or taken advantage of.

Speaking of a bump in pay, no one pays more for less. So, if you’re looking for a lighter load than what you currently have, perhaps a promotion doesn’t exactly match what you are asking for. A promotion isn’t simply a pay raise, so added responsibilities and requirements should be expected and, if possible, planned for.

Boost your growth

Reflective: Express your timeline of continued development in a way that demonstrates you’re ready for the next step toward your career goals. Create a report of the added energy, time, effort, and overall awareness of what it takes to move up in the corporate ranks. 

Showing that you’ve been preparing by upskilling, boosting productivity, and establishing roots in your company’s culture will help you secure a promotion.

Projective: A roadmap to what you want to accomplish and the tools, people, and time it will take to meet those goals, is always a great way to show employers you’re serious about moving forward in your career with them.

Similar to a report that explains why you believe you’re ready for a promotion, what you plan to do when promoted is just as appreciated. Though no one can predict the future, specific plans of action can help instill trust that, come what may, you’ve got it covered.


Consider leaving room for negotiation by requesting rather than demanding. After all, a promotion is a two-way street where both parties have the opportunity to be satisfied.

Also, keep in mind that change doesn’t often happen overnight. If employers are hesitant or on the fence about moving you into a new role, suggesting a probationary or trial period could help ease both of you through the desired transition.

A hard yes isn’t always needed to get the ball rolling, but a hard no may make you reconsider whether or not this is the place you want to continue your career. There’s no need to draw a line in the sand or give ultimatums, but if there are things you need in order to stay, you shouldn’t have to settle for the bare minimum of what aligns with your career goals.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, but trust what you’re bringing to the table and what you have control of.

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