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How to Ask For a Promotion in 5 Easy Steps

Asking for a promotion can be an anxiety-inducing event. Here’s how to ask for a promotion with confidence.

By Fellow.app  •   February 22, 2022  •   7 min read

If you’re thinking about moving up in the workplace, asking for a promotion is a natural place to start. But such a big request can feel a bit nerve-wracking to tackle correctly: There are responsibilities to renegotiate and a salary to reflect your new title as well. Thankfully, this process doesn’t have to be difficult! This article will show you how to ask for a promotion and help you decide you’re ready for a change. Read below to learn everything you should know. (Hint: it’s mostly pretty common-sense stuff and not as difficult as you’re worried it might be!)

How to ask for a promotion in 5 steps

Do you want more of a challenge on the job? Have you been feeling stuck in the same position for a while? If this sounds like you, you might be ready for a promotion. Below are a few calming preparatory steps you can take before speaking with your manager to discuss a promotion. 

1 Show that you’re interested

If you really want a promotion (and the higher salary that comes with it), you need to show it. As in, “show, don’t tell” – have you been doing more than the bare minimum lately? Are you completing more than just the smaller projects to stand out from the pack? These are just two of the many questions to ask yourself before approaching your boss. If your answer to either of these questions is no, start putting in the effort now, then ask for the promotion later.

Write it down

Keep track of everything you’ve worked on in one place! Fellow private streams are like digital notebooks, where you can write down your goals, progress, and feedback.

2 Get ready to advocate for yourself 

Remember, your manager hired you for a reason – that’s all you need to remember to believe in yourself and your talents! And you might want to put some concrete facts to that belief, too.

Before going into your one-on-one meeting, write down your strengths and everything you’ve accomplished in your current role. Your goal is for your manager to recognize how much of an asset you are to the company, so show them that! Plus, this way, you can approach your discussion with honesty and without sounding like you’re asking for too much. 

3 Determine the right time to ask 

There’s no one perfect time to ask for a promotion, but some times are better than others. Many experts say the best time to ask for a promotion is during an annual performance review meeting. During this meeting, you can discuss your performance with your boss and see if there’s potential for you to move up within the company. (If you have performance reviews more frequently, you can ask for a promotion then, too.)

Before going into your review meeting, you might want to consider what’s happening in your department. Are your co-workers leaving the company, or are they emulating your dreams and climbing the leadership ladder? If you notice your co-workers advancing, your performance review meeting is a perfect opportunity to discuss why you deserve a promotion. 

Alternatively, if you’re truly itching for a promotion and can’t wait for a performance review, you can ask your manager for a separate, dedicated meeting on this matter. You can ask for a meeting to discuss your performance and potential, but keep in mind that it’s not very tactful to mention a promotion from the jump. 

Ask for this meeting well in advance so your manager can prepare comments on your performance. Then, at the meeting, show your worth and be sure your manager values you before you ask to move on up. 

4 Go into talks about your promotion with a salary in mind

If you know you’re the person for the job, you need to put a dollar amount behind your contributions. If that sounds intimidating, think about how much you might regret it later on if you’re working for less than you’re worth. So don’t be afraid to ask for that raise no matter how nervous it makes you. How can you establish your worth without asking for it?

Before negotiating a new salary, do some research beforehand. Learn all you can about the new position, your company, your industry, and average salaries for each. This way, you have data to back up your salary request. And remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask for more. When you start from a higher number than your target, your manager is likely to negotiate downward – to the number you actually want. 

5 Know what the next steps will be, and follow up

Before you wrap up the meeting, ask your manager when you can expect to hear a decision. With a deadline in mind, you can properly follow up to make sure things are still on track.

If you get the promotion – congratulations! After a little well-deserved celebration, make sure to talk to your manager about the formal next steps. You can use Fellow to turn these next steps into a list of action items and reminders to follow up. 

Be proactive when speaking with your manager about what you need to do, and consider volunteering to help as well. Your insight is invaluable when it comes to hiring your replacement and taking on new initiatives in your new role!

If you don’t get the promotion you asked for, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job. It might just not be the right time for the company – maybe finances are tight or hiring to fill your old role would be tough. So if you leave your meeting without a promotion, don’t close the door on the idea. Instead, figure out what lies ahead. 

Namely, if you didn’t receive the promotion, ask if you can discuss one again down the road. If your manager says you aren’t yet qualified, make sure to ask how you can get there. 

The bottom line here is: Don’t get yourself down if you don’t receive a promotion exactly when you want it. Instead, use it as motivation to put in more work and hopefully get that promotion eventually. 

When should you ask for a promotion?

So you’ve been working in the same position for a little while now, and you think it’s time to take things to a higher level. Before overwhelming your boss with promotion persuasion, you might want to ask yourself if you’re ready for a change. Here’s when you’ll know it’s time. 

  • You feel like you’re ready for growth

If doing the same thing over and over again is boring you, then you might be ready for a bigger challenge. Think about your recent workload and ask yourself: Are you ready to expand your horizons? Do you want to learn more and add on more responsibilities

If the answer to both is yes, then you might want to ask your boss about a promotion. Explain that you want to continue growing within the company, and show what you’ve accomplished to prove you deserve the new role. 

  • You’ve taken on more responsibility

If you’ve been in the same position for a while, you probably have a good idea of what the workflow looks like day to day. But if you’re taking on increased responsibilities beyond what was in your job description, it’s time to ask for a promotion.

For example, let’s say you’re a content creator. On a typical day, you might write blogs, create social media posts, and film videos. But recently, you’ve found yourself working extra hours to edit content, manage social media accounts, and monitor website metrics. None of this was in your job description, and it all feels above your current pay grade. If you’re taking on tasks above your level, that’s an indication you can ask for a promotion discussion. 

  • You’ve made tons of progress

Often, at the start of any job, the first couple of weeks are a blur, and you can’t track your progress well. That typically changes with time as you get the hang of things and see yourself progress. One question to ask yourself is, Am I simply completing my job, or am I going above and beyond? If you’re indeed doing the most and can show it, now might be the time to discuss a promotion.

  • Your work has a visible impact

Make a list of all your victories in your current role and discuss it with your manager. For example, has your company’s social media following ballooned since you’ve joined the engagement team? Have your posts driven your engagement levels to new highs? If so, highlight your accomplishments and how you’ve gotten there. The same principles apply for any role or industry, not just this example. 

Parting advice 

If you’ve been reading through this article constantly nodding your head (and maybe whispering yes a few times), it’s time for a promotion. Now you just have to convince your manager of the same – and all these tips should help you do so. But to reiterate: You know how hard you work and what you deserve, so don’t sell yourself short. It’s time to show your manager you’re the asset they need. 

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