How To Get A Promotion

By Abby McCain
Aug. 21, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

Getting a promotion can mean more autonomy, a more prestigious title, and a pay raise, all without having to go job hunting. Who wouldn’t want that?

It can be difficult to obtain that promotion, however. Sometimes companies will offer them to employees when they’re restructuring, and sometimes you can apply for one within your company, but many times you’ll need to seek it out yourself.

This takes more than a convincing PowerPoint: You need to start taking steps toward getting a promotion long before you set a meeting with your boss to talk about it.

In this article, you’ll find 10 things you can do to set yourself up for success when you’re hoping for a promotion.

Key Takeaways:

  • When working for a promotion you should start going above and beyond, ask for feedback from your supervisor, and take notice how promotions work within the company.

  • Find new ways to learn skills because companies always want employees who are constantly learning and growing

  • You shouldn’t assume you deserve a promotion just because you are good at your job and don’t try to oversell or undersell yourself for the promotion.

How To Get A Promotion

10 Steps to Take When You Want a Promotion

  1. Go above and beyond. One of the most effective ways to earn a promotion is to take on enough responsibilities that you free up your boss to do other things.

    This will ideally open the door for both of you to get new job descriptions, but at the very least it makes a good impression and shows that you add value to the company.

    Just make sure you’re being helpful when you do this. Get your responsibilities done well, and then when you go to take on more, talk to your boss about what would be helpful. It does no one any good for you to spend valuable time on a project that is on the bottom of everyone’s lists or for you to overstep your bounds.

  2. Stay focused. As you work to take on more responsibilities and make a good impression, don’t neglect the little things that make you a good employee no matter what your job description is. Keep coming in on time, meeting your deadlines, and avoiding office drama.

    The surest way to lose an opportunity for a promotion is to let your ego get the better of you. If you start slacking, your boss and others will notice and will be less likely to trust you with more responsibility.

  3. Make others look better. Companies seek out leaders who work to improve and grow their company and their colleagues. As a result, employees who aren’t focused on themselves in their work and are instead actively looking for ways to uplift those around them are often the recipients of promotions and recognition.

    This could look like taking an extra step to make team members’ lives easier or simply being encouraging and pleasant to work with.

    Climbing the corporate ladder shouldn’t involve tearing others down on your way up. Most executives will avoid hiring people who do this because putting someone like that in a leadership position usually brings the company unnecessary ethical and interpersonal challenges.

  4. Note how promotions work at the company. This tip has two sides to it. One is that you should pay attention to others who have gotten promotions within the company. Find out what they did to get there, and ask them what they’d advise you to do.

    The other side of this is to make sure you understand how promotions usually work at the organization. What does its structure look like? Is there even room for you to move up? Do people move up, or do they just get better pay and more responsibility? Observe on your own, and then ask someone with more experience for their perspective.

    It’s important to do this research because you don’t want to ask for a promotion when that isn’t a part of the company culture. More than likely you’ll walk away from that meeting with a hard “no” and more than a little embarrassment.

  5. Get involved with the company. You might have thought that your days of choosing extracurriculars and electives were over when you graduated, but your employer wants you to get involved with the company outside of the responsibilities listed on your job description as well.

    This doesn’t usually mean after-hours meetings and activities, however. It simply means volunteering for a committee, special project, or event. This is another way that you can demonstrate your commitment to the organization as a whole and your leadership skills.

    It’s also a good way to get to know people with whom you wouldn’t normally come in contact. This not only is good for your social life and work responsibilities, but it’s also good for increasing your chances of getting to know the people who could promote you.

  6. Ask for feedback from your boss. It isn’t a good idea to pursue a promotion without talking to your manager, whether you’re going for their particular job or not. When you do start the process, your manager will find out about it from others, and that makes it look like you’re going over their heads.

    Avoid this by explaining to your manager what your goals are and that you’re interested in advancing within the company. Take this a step farther, though, and ask for feedback and advice and then follow it.

    If your manager points out some weaknesses or blind spots that you need to work on before pursuing a promotion, say thank you and then work on them. If they say to wait or to talk to a specific person, do that.

    Even if you don’t agree, following their advice will speak highly of your humility and adaptability, and they likely have a good understanding of how to do it successfully.

  7. Look for ways to learn. Companies always want employees who are constantly learning and growing. Plus, adding to your skillset makes you more qualified for a promotion.

    If you aren’t already in the habit of finding resources to help you improve in your work, you should get into it. Look at others who have a position similar to the one you want and take note of the skills they have that you don’t. Ask your manager what areas you need to grow in to qualify for the new position as well.

    Use this information to seek out conferences, classes, and other materials that will fill in these holes for you. It’s easier than ever to do this remotely, so there’s no excuse to avoid it.

  8. Find ways to demonstrate your leadership potential. Another good way to make yourself a more attractive candidate for a promotion is to find ways to put your leadership skills into action.

    This doesn’t mean trying to be something you’re not or forcing yourself into the title of “leader,” but it does mean volunteering to lead projects and stepping up to take charge when no one else is.

    Being a leader also means supporting those leading you by being cooperative and giving them the best work you can give them. All of this will reflect well on you when it comes time to request a promotion, and it’ll give you some good practice for when you do get a leadership position.

  9. Become a go-to resource. Another way to exercise and demonstrate your leadership skills is to get so good at your job (or a part of your job) that you become the person others come to for information and advice about it.

    This not only shows your superiors that you’re trustworthy and a natural leader, but it also demonstrates that you really are good at what you do. Just make sure that the area you excel in is relevant to your job and, ideally, relevant to the job you want to have in the future.

  10. Record your accomplishments. When it comes time for you to finally ask for a promotion, you’ll want to make sure you’re armed with facts about how your credentials match the job’s responsibilities and how you’d add more value to the company by taking on that role.

    To prepare for this, keep track of your accomplishments as you would for your resume. If you take on new responsibilities, record those as well.

    It’s much easier to create a persuasive argument from too much information than to try to scramble to remember what you did three years ago.

Mistakes to Avoid When Trying For a Promotion

Now that you know a little more about what you can be doing to give yourself the best chance at getting a promotion, here are some things you shouldn’t do if you don’t want to sabotage your efforts.

  1. Don’t shoot too high or try too hard. Even though it’s important to be confident when you’re asking for a promotion, it is possible to be too confident. You don’t want to come across as entitled or ungrateful, so know how far to push and when to stop trying. You should also know how much is appropriate to ask for.

    If you’re asking for a new title, a raise, a new office, better benefits, and increased autonomy, chances are your employer won’t be overly enthusiastic about giving you what you’re looking for.

    Instead, prioritize your requests and incorporate aspects that benefit your employer too. Be willing to negotiate, and politely follow up if you didn’t receive a favorable answer the first time. If you don’t get an answer after that, give it a rest. It doesn’t do you any good to be in your boss’s bad graces in addition to not getting a promotion.

    Doing your research on how promotions work within the company and listening to others’ advice will help you avoid many of these pitfalls.

  2. Don’t assume you deserve a promotion just because you’re good at your job. Being good at your current job doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be great at the job you’d be promoted to.

    When you go to ask for a promotion, you need to be ready to explain why you’d handle the new responsibilities well and why the move would benefit the company.

    Your employer’s goal is to make money, so spending the time and money required to promote you and potentially hire someone else had better be worth it to them.

  3. Don’t put too much stock in the promotion. If you’re unhappy with your job, a promotion may not be the answer you’re looking for. It could help a little bit, but it won’t fix a toxic environment, and it may not give you enough new work to make your job more fulfilling.

    Before you go down the road of asking for a promotion, stop and think about if finding a position at a different company would be more beneficial.

    Also, don’t allow yourself to be crushed by rejection if your boss says no. You’re likely no worse off than you were before, and there may be new opportunities ahead that you don’t know about yet.

  4. Don’t give an ultimatum. If you give your manager an ultimatum, they may see it as a manipulation tool to get a promotion. It also won’t end well if your boss doesn’t agree and you end up having to quit your job or things will be very awkward if you decide to stay. Just don’t give them any kind of ultimatums.

  5. Don’t apply for a role that doesn’t suit you. If you are looking for a way out of your current job, applying for the next open position might not end well for you. If you aren’t actually interested in the position and you end up getting the job, you will eventually hate it and you took an opportunity away from someone else. Just wait for a position that you are interested in to open and apply then.

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Author

Abby McCain

Abby is a writer who is passionate about the power of story. Whether it’s communicating complicated topics in a clear way or helping readers connect with another person or place from the comfort of their couch. Abby attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in writing with concentrations in journalism and business.

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