10 Things To Know Before You Ask For That Job Promotion

Job interview business meeting.
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In the era of “The Great Resignation,” where businesses are struggling to recruit and retain talent, there is no better time for employees to pounce on ways to move up within their organizations. We’re talking about a promotion — a word that may send a shiver of both excitement and fear down your spine. 

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Though going for a promotion can be a stressful endeavor, it doesn’t have to be, and it likely won’t be if you’re well prepared. 

We talked to career experts to learn exactly what you should know and do before asking your boss for a promotion. 

Know Why You Want the Promotion Prior To Speaking With Your Boss

“Through assessments, self-analysis and life experience, it’s up to each of us to understand our personal mix and what it means in terms of career goals, options and satisfaction,” said Kathleen Quinn Votaw, the CEO of TalenTrust. “Then go after it, recognizing that you may find greater rewards stepping across or sitting in a comfortable place, instead of climbing ever higher.”

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Identify Your Accomplishments and Quantify Them

“Before speaking to your boss about a promotion, gather information,” said Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. “Data is key — if you saved the company money the past year, how much have you saved? If you landed new business, what’s the dollar amount?”

Adhere To Your Employer’s Timing of Salary Review

“If the new fiscal year begins on January 1, and you speak to your boss on December 15, that may be too late for approvals,” Salemi said. “If you speak to your boss, however, on October 15, that might be ideal to get conversations and approvals kicked off prior to the new fiscal year.”

But if your salary review isn’t until say, July 1, don’t delay the promotion discussion. 

“There’s a fine line — you don’t want to miss the boat by approaching your boss beyond the process (smaller companies may have less approvals necessary and be more fluid with their approach), so the sooner the better,” Salemi said. “If the new fiscal year isn’t for a while, don’t wait until salary review conversations begin among leadership.”

Know Your Company and Be Your Own Advocate

“Some companies may do mid-year promotions, some may not have any promotions outside the salary review process,” Salemi said. “Some policies may be clearly stated on the HR intranet site, others may not be. Speak up anyway, the worst they can do is say no. It’s important to speak up for yourself and be your best advocate.”

Know Everything About the Promotion You’re Up For

“Before speaking to your boss, outline what the promotion will entail,” Salemi said. “What title are you looking for, what salary are you looking for? [Know the answers] so when you approach your boss you are very clear and specific with your ask.”

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Understand Your Worth and Communicate It Wisely

“Knowing your worth is one of the most important pieces to keep in mind,” Salemi said. “Do external research (reach out to a former boss, mentor, former colleagues, professional industry organizations, look online). Determine based on your skills and experiences what your salary should be in the new role. Look online internally to see if pay grades are included so you know what your salary expectations are within the grades.”

Once you know your worth you should be realistic with your expectations around them. 

“Share this information [about your worth] with your boss so they know you did your homework and you’re not randomly concocting the number out of thin air, but keep in mind they may say, well your research shows X and we can’t promote you with more than an 8 percent increase so we maintain internal equity, etc.,” Salemi said. “Ask for the promotion anyway.”

Approach the Conversation From a ‘Win-Win’ Perspective

“The most important thing is to approach the conversation from a ‘win-win’ perspective,” said David Friedman, author of “Culture by Design: How to Build a High-Performing Culture Even in the New Remote Work Environment” and the founder/CEO of CultureWise. “Why will this promotion be good for the company first, and you second? I would start by talking about your desire to make a greater contribution to the organization. Share the ways in which you can add more value in the new role or with the new responsibilities. If possible, share some of your ideas for specific things you’d do to advance the company.”

See If the Promotion Can’t Be Retroactive in Some Way

“If you’ve been doing the role unofficially for a while, it’s unlikely the promotion would be retroactive, but it’s important to keep this in mind when you speak to your boss as well,” Salemi said. “You’re already doing the work, getting promoted officially is the formality, but you still need to have the title and pay reflect the work you’re doing.”

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Have Any Perks You’d Like Top of Mind

“A promotion may not only encompass salary and title,” Salemi said. “Ask for a one-time bonus and potential perks like maybe a corner office, an increased budget for training opportunities, additional paid time off.”

Plant the Seed Now — And Consider Jobs Elsewhere, If Needed

“Ignite the spark to have that conversation,” Salemi said. “If your boss says a promotion is not possible, yet you’re doing the work and you’re undervalued and unrecognized for it, you will have a clear sign as to your next steps and what’s in your control: looking for a new job externally for an employer who will value you and pay you accordingly.”

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Last updated: Sept. 28, 2021 

 

About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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