How to Effectively Ask For a Promotion

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn

  • When is the best time to ask for a promotion?
  • When is the right time for a promotion?
  • How to ask for a promotion.
  • Things to avoid when asking for a promotion.
  • How to find and apply for the best jobs.

November is Career Development Month, a time to consider your current role and the future of your career. Most employees want the opportunity to progress and earn more money, and you might feel you are overdue recognition and success.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Good Work Index 2023, discovered that 13% of people are likely to leave their jobs for a promotion. A promotion is a crucial step in your career growth, but the wait can often seem endless, so why not advocate for your own advancement?

Rather than leave your job for other opportunities, you can ask for a promotion at your current company. Asking for a promotion can be intimidating, and you don’t want to appear too ambitious or presumptuous. However, with the right approach, you can increase your chances of success and initiate a positive conversation about promotion.

In this article, we discuss how to effectively ask for a promotion at work and the pitfalls to look out for which could hinder your chances. 

When to ask for a promotion

You’ve decided that you’re going to approach your manager for a promotion but now you need to know when and how to do it. Promotion is the next logical step for individuals who have successfully been doing their job for some time. 

Rather than waiting for a promotion to come to you, you should consider asking for a promotion. Getting the pay rise you deserve is essential to your career growth but it can be difficult to know you are ready for a promotion.

When asking for a promotion, the timing is crucial. You may choose to wait until your performance review to show a year's worth of progress and accomplishments, or you may choose to ask at a moment of opportunity when a position becomes available.

Signs it’s time to put yourself forward for a promotion

Signs that it’s time for a promotion include:

  1. You’ve been doing the same job successfully for a while and are looking for more responsibility. 
  2. You feel that you’re performing well in your current role and would like to take on more tasks or responsibilities.
  3. You have quantifiable results for your work.
  4. You find you are already doing things outside of your current responsibilities. 
  5. You feel like you have more to offer and would like the opportunity to prove it.
  6. You’ve already demonstrated your abilities and feel like you’ve outgrown your current role.
  7. Other employees with positions similar to your have recently received promotions.
  8. The company is growing and you are an integral component to their growth.

How to ask for a promotion

Asking for a promotion can be nerve wracking and the process needs to be carefully considered and planned. Although it can be an intimidating situation, putting yourself forward at the right time and in the right way gives you the opportunity to move your career forward. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to ask for a promotion:

  1. Have a meeting- Prepare for a two-way conversation to discuss the possibility of a promotion. Asking for a promotion requires a balanced discussion and a weighing of pros and cons to help your employer make a decision. Schedule an in-person meeting with your manager to discuss your proposal.
  2. Be prepared- Employers expect you to know your market value when asking for a promotion or pay rise, therefore you need to be prepared in advance and ready with well-researched facts and statistics to back up your request. Establish your target salary, starting with your market value, then adjust it to suit your role and qualifications. Practise what you are going to say ahead of the meeting and consider what questions your manager might ask you about your proposition. Achievements that contain numbers or statistics are a much stronger indication of your performance than general statements.
  3. Be clear- You want to present a comprehensible, concise case that is balanced with facts, evidence and consideration. You want to be clear about what it is you're asking for and the reasons why. Reflect on what you want e.g. if it is a job you want that already exists, or if you want to create a new role or move up in your current department. Knowing the answer to this allows you to better understand your goal and position your request. Make sure your intentions are honest and beneficial to the company.
  4. State your case- Make a success list detailing your accomplishments, contributions and the responsibilities you’ve taken on. If you have received recognition or awards from colleagues, clients or managers include them in your pitch to demonstrate your value to the company. Mention the ways in which your efforts have had positive effects on the company. 
  5. Mention your impact on the business- Be specific and provide examples about how your achievements have affected your team and the company as a whole. Your promotion has to benefit, have a measurable impact and provide value for the business. Consider the timing- Ask yourself, what is the current market or state of the business? Can they afford to promote you? You don’t want to ask for a promotion and be immediately shut down based on the current financial state of the company. Be aware of what has been happening at the company e.g. any layoffs, cutbacks or restructuring? Consider how your timing may impact the company, as you might benefit from asking for a promotion after a successful event or after a notable professional achievement.
  6. Provide evidence and statistics- Backup your request and the points you make with data or facts. Supporting your answers with evidence and statistics demonstrates your ability to take on more responsibility and understand the bigger picture. The actual meeting will be less stressful and more productive if you have the evidence you need to back your request.
  7. Be prepared for questions- Anticipate any questions or concerns your employer might raise and prove you have done your research and prepared for everything. Confidently provide answers and solutions as to why you are the right person, or it’s the right time for you to be promoted. 
  8. Be patient- Your manager might not have a definite answer immediately after the meeting. They might need to have discussions with other decision-makers before they make any promises or offers. They may also want time to consider whether it is even possible for the company to allow such a promotion. Be polite, patient and respectful and continue to do good work and look for ways to elevate your performance and skills.

Things to avoid when asking for a promotion

There are effective ways to ask for a promotion and effectively convince your manager that it is a beneficial decision for all. However, there are ineffective ways to ask for a promotion that will immediately make the employer turn you down.

Here are the most common mistakes employees make when asking for a promotion that you should avoid:

  • Don't demand a promotion- the meeting should be a calm, professional conversation in which you pitch your request. Don’t assume you deserve one and that you will be granted a promotion with or without a good pitch. In no way should you appear demanding no matter how overdue you think the promotion might be.
  • Don't compare yourself to others. Avoid mentioning other people that you think shouldn’t be promoted or highlighting other peoples failures to make yourself look better. It won’t work, it could cast doubt upon your character and have the opposite effect.
  • Don’t rely on your relationship with your manager. Just because you are friends with your boss or have a good working relationship doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a promotion. Your manager also answers to a boss and needs a good reason to promote you. Conduct a meeting to discuss a promotion and justify your reasons and the benefits. It would be foolish to base your request on your manager’s generosity or kindness.
  • Don’t make it all about you. You need to make it clear that promoting you will benefit the business and that the company stands to gain something from your promotion. Avoid saying things like ‘it’s my time, or ‘I work hard,’ or any kind of superiority. Perhaps your promotion solves a problem and will therefore positively impact the company.
  • Don’t appeal to your employer's emotions. Do not attempt to manipulate or guilt trip your employer into giving you a promotion rather than provide facts and statistics that support your case. Avoid mentioning reasons like ‘I could use the money,’ or ‘I need the money for…’ as this method is unprofessional, desperate and suggests you can’t merit or trust your own worth as a good enough reason to be promoted.
  • Don’t lose composure. Remain professional and calm no matter how you feel regarding the meeting. Consider your response if the request is rejected and prepare how you will react e.g. with questions, concerns or ask for more information or reasoning. Taking the news calmly and understandably would show the employer that you are mature enough to understand and accept their decision.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a promotion right away, there might be issues with timing, finance or employment. If things don’t seem to be going your way don’t lose your temper, composure or emotions, finish stating your case and listen to feedback.

What to do if you are rejected for a promotion

If you believe that you are due for a promotion and it has been rejected without good reason, it might be time to re-evaluate your career with this company. 

Every employee deserves to be paid fairly for their work so perhaps it is time to move on and find a company that does value your worth. Employees that move companies often receive a much higher salary, up to 20%, compared to receiving a promotion in their current company. 

If you’re looking for a new role, why not visit our job page and take a look at the latest opportunities? Or, why not, upload your CV and one of our experienced consultants will contact you when a relevant opportunity becomes available. 

Struggling to find top talent?

If you’re struggling to fill a role in one of the 11 specialisms which we operate in, why not check out the recruitment services we offer? Alternatively, give us a call on 01772 954200 and one of our consultants will be happy to help. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Located in the North West, we are a recruitment agency that goes above and beyond. From the heart of our organisation to the way we conduct business, we are committed to delivering positivity and influence to everyone. 

Recruitment to us is more than just matching candidates and clients; we think it's just as important to find candidates the perfect job that has the ability to boost their salary, work life balance and mental health. 

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