Asking for promotion

Asking for promotion

 29 Jan 2020

Few of us like blowing our own trumpet but if ever there was a time to do it, this is the time! However, there are ways and means. You are unlikely to achieve much, either in terms of promotion or winning friends if you stand in the middle of the office shouting how brilliant you are at everything – a degree of strategy is required!


How do I start?

Step one is to find out exactly what the role entails. In the majority of cases, you will be able to source a detailed job description. Go through this and honestly assess whether you have the skills and experience the role requires. Tick off each requirement, detailing the amount of experience you have and jotting down relevant examples. These should cover technical and non-technical skills eg experience of management, motivating a team, client relationship skills etc. – use our competency- based interviewing blog (Tell me about a time when….) to help you. 


What next?

If you have a mentor, get their opinion on your assessment. Does your scoring agree with theirs? Sometimes, you will feel ready, but others will feel you still need to gain more experience and it’s not always a message that is delivered or delivered clearly and/or constructively enough during your review or career appraisals.


Take stock – if your mentor’s view is that you still have a way to go, it may be worth putting in some extra work on the areas they feel you are weaker in to strengthen your position.


How do I present my case?

So, you have decided that you have the right experience and you are ready to go ahead, how do you go about it?


Preparation and professionalism are the keys.


  • Know what the procedure is. Is there a form to fill in, if there is, make sure you are familiar with it.
  • In most cases, the first step is to make it known that you are looking for promotion, so go to your boss or line manager and tell them.
  • Make sure you can answer the question – why do you want promotion? Think about what you would do in the role – if you are looking for the challenge of more responsibility for team management, or you are looking to do more complex work, say so but be realistic in your ambition. If you’re looking for more management responsibility, don’t scare off the boss by saying you think a complete re-think of the structure is needed!
  • Look at it from the boss’s point of view – how will you add value to the team/organization in that particular role?
  • Have your evidence ready – it’s helpful to have a copy of the job description and some notes on your experience to hand, so you can talk fluently through your reasons for thinking you are ready.


What if they say “no”?

It won’t always go your way, but calmly and professionally listen to the reasons why they think you aren’t ready for promotion.

  • Remember, you don’t have to respond straight away. You can say something like “That’s disappointing but you’ve given me some food for thought. Can we have another chat in a couple of days when I’ve had a chance to think about what we have discussed?”
  • You don’t have to necessarily give up if you think they have misunderstood something about your experience; you can go back with more evidence.
  • Having thought about what they have said, you can agree that you do need to work on x,y,z but ask for a plan to help you as you are keen to be considered next year and you don’t want to let the grass grow under your feet.
  • You do always have the option to change roles if you think they are judging you harshly. A good recruiter will advise you whether you have enough experience for the next move up.


Remember, a promotion rarely drops in your lap just because you are doing a good job - you have to actively want it, tell someone you want it and demonstrate that you can do it. 


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