Whether you’re a junior employee or a senior level manager, asking for a promotion can be a nerve-wracking experience. Putting yourself on the spot and exposing yourself to the possibility of rejection is not something that’s ever comfortable.
But if you stay focused on your commitment to the company and the value you bring, it can be significantly less painful. And since it’s unlikely that a promotion will ever be offered to you unless you ask, it’s important to learn how to ask effectively. Here are some strategies.
Time it Right
Timing is everything when it comes to job success, and this is especially true when asking for a promotion. Asking at the wrong time – such as in the middle of a big project, when your boss is preoccupied with other matters, or when the company is downsizing – will only set you up for failure.
Although there is no specific “right time” to ask for a promotion, some times are definitely better than others, such as during your annual performance review, after you’ve helped the company profit, or when a suitable opportunity opens up in your department.
When you do decide to ask, try not to catch your supervisor by surprise. Schedule a meeting to discuss your performance and potential growth opportunities. This way, the manager has some time to reflect on your accomplishments and what the company is capable of offering.
Show Your Value
Just like that classic writing rule—show, don’t tell—you need to demonstrate why you deserve a promotion by giving concrete evidence of your value. Sometimes it’s easy to believe that you deserve the job just because you’re next in line for it. But that’s not the way your boss may think of it. In fact, your boss may be so accustomed to thinking of you in your current role that you need to prove to her why you’re ready for a bigger responsibility.
Make a list of your accomplishments and be prepared to discuss them with your manager. Give specific examples that illustrate the skills and experience required for the job.
Do Your Homework
Before you ask for anything, think about what you want in terms of job responsibilities, schedule and salary. Although you shouldn’t discuss compensation until you’re actually offered a promotion, you should be aware of the job’s going rate. Websites such as Salary.com and PayScale.com can give you an idea of what other companies are paying for comparable positions. Don’t be afraid to negotiate based on what’s realistic and what you think you’re worth.
Be Self-Assured, Not Entitled
Yes, if everyone in your company is getting promoted except you, you may be justified in asking for one as well. But this alone doesn’t mean you deserve one. Ultimately what matters is if you’re qualified to do the job and you’re adding value to the organization. Whether or not Joe in Accounting just got promoted to VP has nothing to do with it. Stick with your own accomplishments and assets and leave your co-workers out of it. You should feel confident in letting your strengths speak for themselves.
And never think that you’re out of line for asking. As long as you’ve had a sufficient amount of time to prove yourself, it’s natural and desirable to want to progress. The purpose of any career is to keep growing professionally. Just relax and remember to be considerate. After all, promoting you inconveniences your boss while he looks for your replacement. Offer solutions rather than ultimatums. A little graciousness always goes a long way.