Your Career: Asking For A Promotion Is Not Dictated By Time On The Job

 In Career Tips, Company Culture/People At Work

Your Career: Asking For A Promotion Is Not Dictated By Time On The JobAsking for a promotion rates right up there with asking for a root canal.  Yet,a promotion is signifies that our career is growing and moving.  It makes us feel good about ourselves and is a form of recognition that our work is worth rewarding.  Yet, it can be ponderous when thinking about the details of how and when to ask.  It’s not something we do every day and we don’t always think we know what to do.

There are two things to consider: 1- timing of your performance and 2- how to ask.  Let’s look at each factor.

There is no time interval when it comes to talking about a promotion.  There are conditions that will dictate the timing:

  • You need to have a clear understanding with the boss on BOTH the deliverables for your current position and the results you need to demonstrate to be at the next level.
  • Assuming you are clear on the above items, you need to be actively seeking feedback from your boss and others that you are meeting or exceeding the expectations of your current job description. This is not to say you must be picture perfect every day it means you perform your job consistently enough that you are viewed as “rock solid” in doing that work.
  • You do have to demonstrate that you can do your job and also perform work at the next level.  In other words, you have to prove yourself.
  • You should be documenting the job expectations as well as all those various results you obtain.  This is important to your next step in asking for a promotion.  This information will also reinforce to you when you believe your have consistently performed.  Your analysis of this information will help define the time to ask.

If you have done all the work mentioned, you don’t just run into the boss’s office and insist on a promotion.  There are conditions you want to look for and preparations that will help ensure your success:

  •  Be aware of business and personal factors that will impact the decision making process going on with the boss.  If the boss is getting ready or just returned from a vacation or business travel you don’t want to get lost in the frenzy.  They have their own workload to think about and they are focusing on the purpose of their travel.  Give them space both before and after these events before you approach them.  There may be other big deals the boss is working that may not allow them to focus on your request.  Pay attention to what is going on with the boss.
  • Be aware of your company’s business situation.  If business has been bad and there is work restructuring or shifting work priorities that has just happened, your request will get lost.  Let these things roll out and wait until the dust settles.
  • Lay out your case in black and white.  You have been documenting your work and expectations which will help you lay out your case.  You don’t want to over whelm the boss with too much information so keep it to the most impactful items making sure you cover all the key expectations your boss has made.  You may want to attach copies of emails, especially from the boss that reinforces what you are saying.  Be prepared to give a proposed salary increase and don’t make it a specific number but rather a range.  Make sure you do your homework so your expectations are appropriate to your company’s recent history.  This shouldn’t be part of your proposal but may be something you will be asked for, be prepared to discuss.
  • Ask the boss for calendar time. When you do be prepared to immediately discuss this topic.  That makes it important for you to do the previous step before setting up an appointment.  When you ask for an appointment, they may schedule out for a month or later today.
  • When you meet with them, make a copy of your promotion request for both of you.  You want to leave the information with them to read and review after your meeting.
  • Do not be defensive, demanding or confrontational in your meeting.  Keep your demeanor professional and neutral.  You may feel entitled to a promotion but you definitely don’t want to act like it.
  • Keep the process accountable.  When you’ve completed your presentation, ask what the next steps and timing are.  It’s also ok to ask for some general reaction to your request.  You will want to know if they disagree and if so that turns into a different discussion.  Keep in mind that they may not be able to agree right on the spot.  They may need to speak to the big dog or analyze their budget before coming to a decision.  Based on what you learn in this step be prepared to follow up at the time given – not earlier or later.

You can make asking for a promotion more like a professional encounter with your boss with the right kind of advanced planning.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

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