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Insights: How to Ask for a Promotion

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Ask the Expert! Through WISE Insights, Connect with knowledgeable experts to receive honest and thoughtful answers to your career-related questions, or read about challenges your peers are facing.

Question

Submitted by: WISE San Francisco member | 15+ years professional experience

If you have been in the same position for a number of years and doing the work of the next level, what is the best way to ask for a promotion?

Answer

You should be clear about what work you are doing that is at the next level.  People are promoted, not because they can do a lot of work, but by the quality of their work.

Compare yourself with what your colleagues who are at a higher level are doing. Are you driving results, as opposed to executing someone else’s plan? Are you seen as the “go to” person in the office for resolving the more complex issues?  If so, then prepare a list of your achievements in your current role and sit down with your manager to talk it through. Show your manager why you believe you have been doing the job of someone more senior and ask for their viewpoint.

The key in this type of discussion is not to try to fill the silences. It can be an uncomfortable discussion and often when people are nervous, they will try to fill the space. Simply state your case and then sit back and see what your manager has to say.

It is also important to remember that you do not want to put your manager in a position where it sounds like you are giving an ultimatum “promote me or else.” Even if you have already secured a role elsewhere and are prepared to walk, it is best not to get into that situation.

If the company won’t promote you, listen to why: there may be other factors you haven’t considered or perhaps you aren’t performing at the level you think you are.

Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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