Asking for a Promotion? What Your Boss Does (and Doesn't) Want to Hear
Do you have more responsibilities than you can possibly pile into your current job description? Does your manager stop to tell you how ridiculously awesome you are during coffee breaks? Have you been called an overachiever a lot lately? Well, it may be time to ask for a promotion.
All good managers want to see their employees succeed and grow, and sometimes you need to let your boss know when you’re ready for the next step. That said, making the case for a higher job title (and accompanying salary boost!) can be tricky, and you need to make sure you’re approaching the conversation the right way. So, before scheduling that one-on-one with your manager, keep these simple dos and don’ts in mind.
Do: Show Your Value
If you’re ready to move up, you already know you’re performing above and beyond your current job description. But in order to justify a promotion, you’ll also need to show it.
So, make a list of your key achievements (especially those that fall outside of your official responsibilities) and note how they’ve benefitted the business. These accomplishments will make the perfect talking points to show your manager where your specific strengths are and what kind of direction you’d like your next role at the company to take.
This will also be good fuel for your manager to take this conversation to his or her boss. Remember, your direct supervisor might not be the one with the final say in your promotion, so the more hard numbers and notable achievements you can give to help make the case for your promotion to the higher-ups, the better.
Don’t: Compare Yourself to Co-Workers
So, your colleague who has been at the company for half of your employment time was promoted six months ago—meaning you’re overdue for a bump up, right?
Maybe, but leave this factor out of your promotion discussion. For one, “Tom got a raise” is not a compelling business case for your manager to do the same for you. You’ll gain far more ground focusing on what you have accomplished so far and what you can continue to tackle in your new role.
Plus, even if you really have signed more new clients than two of your co-workers combined in the last six months, whining to your boss about how you stack up to your colleagues will never make you look like a leader.
Do: Make it About Your Company
You work hard, and your manager knows that. But when you’re asking for a promotion, you can’t make it all about you—it’s actually more about your employer. After all, every time your boss makes a recommendation or decision—and that includes hiring and promotions—he or she is deciding what’s best for the business.
Try starting the conversation by showing that you care about the company and its success: “I’m really enjoying working here, and I feel I could make more of a difference for the company in a higher-level position.” Then, back this up with examples of your accomplishments and how they could translate into results in your next role. Think: “As you know, I’ve saved us 10% in advertising costs in my current position. I’m confident I could save us even more if I had the opportunity to work with more publications and outside agencies directly as a senior media strategist.”
Don’t: Make Threats
If you don’t get this promotion, you’re going to start looking elsewhere. That’ll convince them, right?
Not exactly. In fact, threats of ditching your job or leaving for another employer are appreciated by exactly no one. Plus, part of showing you are ready for the next step is proving that you’re dedicated to growing within the company. So, if you’re even considering saying something like, “I really love working for you, I’m just not sure that I can afford to much longer in my current position”—don’t. Even hinting subtly at leaving could ruin your chances of being promoted.
Asking for a promotion isn’t easy. But if you keep the conversation focused on your results and the company’s goals—and stay far away from threats and comparisons—you’re well on your way to the next level.
Tell us! Have you ever tried asking for a promotion? What helped you land your new title?
Photo of men at work courtesy of Shutterstock.
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