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Career Advice

The Do's and Dont’s of Asking for a Promotion

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated April 10, 2018

You work hard. You’d like to see your efforts rewarded. In an ideal world, your superiors would recognize your talent and offer you a promotion. But advancing is rarely that easy. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to asking for a promotion. Read on if climbing the career ladder is in your sights!

Positioning Yourself for a Promotion

  • Do decide on a timeline. Asking for a promotion shouldn’t be an impulsive decision. Planning will allow you to make sure you’re at the peak of your performance and have your results well documented before you broach the topic.
  • Don’t think a promotion will fix everything. Is a promotion really what you need in order to get where you want to be with your career? A promotion won’t make you happier if you’re not enjoying your current company and position.
  • Do analyze your current performance. Are you doing outstanding work? If you’re not meeting and regularly exceeding expectations, you’ll need to step it up in order to get on management’s radar. It also never hurts to volunteer for special projects.
  • Don’t toot your own horn. Sure, you want to be noticed, but it’s important not to come across as arrogant. Do your best to show that you’re confident, not cocky.
  • Do consider the timing. Is your company in a strong financial position? Is the climate generally positive? If not, it might not be the best time to jockey for a better position.
  • Don’t disregard your manager’s goals. Before you ask for a promotion, you should know what your manager’s team objectives are and have a clear idea of how your contributions are helping to knock those goals out of the park.
  • Do keep notes and gather statistics. In the months leading up to when you plan to ask for a promotion, make note of concrete accomplishments. If your job is one that uses analytics, compile statistics to show your successes — numbers talk!
  • Don’t forget to do your homework. Know the skills the position you’re aiming for requires. Make sure you’re prepared to demonstrate how your skills and accomplishments are a good match for the job.
  • Do plant a seed and get feedback.

Let your boss know that you’re interested in moving up in the future. Let them know where you’re at today, and how you see yourself evolving to fill a new role in the future. Have a concrete action plan and ask for feedback on it.

Asking for a Promotion

When you’ve positioned yourself and you’re ready to ascend the career ladder, ask your boss for a meeting to discuss your role. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Do plan the meeting. It’s a good idea to have your agenda outlined in advance so you can demonstrate that you’re a fit for the new position. Having everything laid out in advance allows you to focus on important points, which makes you appear more composed and confident.
  • Don’t skimp on the presentation. If you have insights or data to share, get them down on paper so you can present them to your boss with flair.
  • Do dress for success. Even if your company dress code is casual, take care with your appearance on the day of your meeting. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit if your work attire is usually business casual, but make sure you’re looking clean and polished.
  • Don’t make it all about you. Your boss likely doesn’t care that your rent went up, or that it’s been a couple of years since your last promotion. Remember, it’s not about what your company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.
  • Do focus on the benefits. Your boss’s job is to look after the best interests of the company. He or she needs to see how promoting you will improve that bottom line.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Resist the urge to focus on others, even if you work harder than a co-worker who holds a higher position, or you know that someone on the same tier makes more money. Your meeting should focus on your own merit and accomplishments.
  • Do think in terms of what you deserve, not what you need. You may well need more money, but unless you can prove that you also deserve it you won’t get far in your quest for a promotion. Be prepared to demonstrate why you’re the person for the job.
  • Don’t assume you deserve a raise simply based on your length of employment. Many workers think that longevity should equal a promotion. That’s not the case in today’s workplace. You’ll need to show how your contributions create value.
  • Do consider timing. It makes good sense to ask for a promotion just after you’ve achieved a significant milestone. If your biggest successes are months in the past, you’ll want to wait until some of your current projects have come to fruition.
  • Don’t forget to rehearse before your meeting. At the very least, rehearse by yourself. If you can, ask a trusted friend to listen to your pitch. Consider these nine things you should never say when you’re asking for a promotion.

What to Do if You’re Turned Down for a Promotion

  • Don’t give up. Don’t take rejection personally. If there are performance issues you need to address, own them. Otherwise, let go of factors that are outside your control. If you get a no, consider it a “not yet.”
  • Do ask for a timeline and follow up. If you didn’t get the result you were after this time, set a timeline with your boss. Say, “I’d like to position myself for a promotion within the next X months. I’d be grateful for any feedback or suggestions you have on how I might get there.”
  • Don’t complain. Whiners aren’t winners. If you hope to advance in your company, keep your attitude positive and goal-focused.
  • Do take stock. If you’re convinced that your company is the best fit for you, revise your plan for advancing in your career and get down to work. If you’ve lost enthusiasm, weigh the pros and cons of moving on to another company.

Asking for a promotion is one of the most unnerving challenges any worker faces. But if you go into the process fully prepared and confident in your skills, you’ll increase the odds of successfully earning the career boost you deserve.


This article was originally published on Grammarly. It is reprinted with permission.