How to ask for a promotion

Asking for an internal promotion is no small deal, but when the time is right – that’s the first tip – you need to put yourself forward. The alternative is to stay exactly where you are until retirement, and that’s not on your long term career plan is it?

We look at some of the ways of approaching, and preparing yourself for, this potentially daunting but necessary next step in your career.

Time it right and be tactful

Obviously, barging into your boss’s office at 9am on a Monday morning while they’re on an important conference call, and on a tight deadline, is not what you’d call being tactful. Biding your time is imperative and ensuring you’re fully prepared is key. So where to start?

  • Suggest a meeting time with your boss at a time that you know suits them. In some cases, an annual review may be the best time for promotion talk, but it may also be prudent to time it when you know someone is leaving or organisational changes are afoot.
  • Prepare for the meeting with a clear plan, in your head or on paper or preferably both. What is the result you want? Are you looking for a particular salary increase or is this promotion not about the money and more about valuable and strategic experience?
  • In your plan, include what other options you may be willing to consider, such as a small pay rise and a clearer career path to where you want to be.
  • Remind yourself of your career goals so you can explain these in the meeting.
  • Be prepared for an answer that you don’t like, and think about how you might respond to this.

Have all your ducks in a tidy, ordered row

Asking for a promotion is not a case of throwing a line out in the direction of your boss and seeing what you can reel in in terms of your next career move. It is up to you to come to your meeting with sufficient solid research to back up your request.

  • Gather evidence that shows how worthwhile you are to your employer including achievements, your performance on projects, responsibilities and skills. If you have numbers to back it up, bring those too.
  • Go online and research what your potential future role would pay, on average.
  • Take into account your skills, experience, location and sector when researching market rates, and set a minimum benchmark for what you’d accept.
  • Form a list of the companies’ goals and objectives, and consider how you would help achieve those goals should you get a promotion.

Ensure you’ve been noticed

There are ways and means in which you can impress your boss as you work up to the big day of asking for a promotion.

  • Put up your hand for extra responsibilities.
  • Ask for, and take up, professional development opportunities.
  • Do plenty of networking so you know what’s happening in your sector. Include online networking such as forums, discussion boards and seminars. Gathering valuable inside industry information

“Work hard and don’t be afraid to put your hand up for more responsibility. Surprisingly few Kiwis put themselves forward.” Says Trade Me CEO Jon MacDonald, who knows a thing or two about promotions and how to get one. Read more of our exec tips at 'The road to success: Tips from Trade Me’s Exec Team'.

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