How to ask for a promotion

Written by: Hazel Mason
Published on: 5 Mar 2020

Asking for a promotion can be nerve-racking. It can feel like we’re offering ourselves up for a rejection - which no one ever would do lightly - but, in reality, asking for a promotion is a very necessary step for the success of our career. People Management Jobs have put together the below tips to help you ask that all important question.

How to ask for a promotion

Whatever stage you’re at in your HR career, it is likely that asking for a promotion will be a part of your journey up the ladder. Moving up the rungs doesn’t always mean moving organisations, and, hopefully, your company has a great progression structure. Nevertheless, it is always worth being prepared for these conversations. Read on for our top tips.

Our top tips on how to ask for a promotion

Gather your evidence

You may be one of the lucky ones whose progression is brought up by your manager - amazing! Your life is so much easier. But whether this is the case or you’re having to instigate the conversation yourself, it’s important to come prepared with why you deserve the promotion. 

Make a list of your accomplishments and tie them to concrete results. For example, if your specialism is in employee relations, you may have key stats on how engagement has increased through the policies you have championed. Or, if your role involves recruitment, you might want to bring how you’ve managed to reduce spend by building a more efficient recruitment marketing strategy. Whatever area of HR you work in, be sure to identify three or more key accomplishments that highlight how you’ve gone above and beyond to be a key asset to your organisation.

Know what you want

It’s important to know what role you are looking to move up into. This will help focus your discussion, especially when it comes to identifying how your skills and capabilities align with the more senior role. You may not have a specific job role that you are interested in, but it is worth having a think about your key strengths and interests with an idea to whether you would be looking to specialise or expand your current remit. This will help your manager to look for opportunities within their team for you and what she can offer.

Timing is key

Unless it’s during a performance review, there never really is a right time to ask. It’s important to be aware of what is happening in the business and your team especially. If there are redundancies or budget cuts, this could jeopardise your chance of being granted a promotion. Similarly, if your manager is new to the role, they may not have had enough time to determine how good you are. 

Also, there is an unwritten rule that you ideally should have been at the company for six months or more before asking for a promotion. If you ask too early, it may come across as arrogant and have the opposite effect to what you had hoped. 

However, if you feel as though you are ready for that step up and you have the evidence to prove it, then it’s worth opening that dialogue with your manager. Even if they can’t promote you on the spot, they hopefully will begin to look for opportunities for you.

Send that diary invite

So, the only thing left to do at this stage is invite your manager to that meeting. Request a meeting specifically for discussing your progress and make your manager aware of your intention. She will not appreciate being blindsided and not given the opportunity to prepare for the meeting. It could also help move your progression along as she has the time to collect her feedback and find out what she can offer you.

Do your research

Now you’ve had that initial conversation, you may want to start thinking about numbers. Coming to the initial meeting with a salary figure might not go down too well but when your promotion is almost a done deal, you want to be prepared with some ballpark figures. 

Weigh up what other people at that level earn within your organisation and in other similar organisations against what you personally feel is a good pay raise. Having an idea of your desired salary will help both you and your manager come to a decision. And, if the salary isn’t matching your expectations, you can present your research to help drive your arguments.

Be aware of your next steps

So you got the promotion? Amazing! You’re all done.

But, in some organisations, the process isn’t quite so simple. It may be that your manager has to put conversations on hold whilst business decisions are made or it is company policy for an individual to complete a development plan before being offered a promotion. Whatever the situation, it’s important that you get a timeline from your manager so you can follow up with her at set times. Without a timeline, your promotion could easily fall by the wayside leaving you feeling disheartened.

What should you do if your promotion does not materialise?

Ultimately, offering you the promotion is in the best interests of the company as hiring good talent is particularly difficult. But, in the instance that you’re still waiting on your promotion months down the line, then it may be worth having an honest conversation with your manager. If they are unable to give you a satisfactory explanation as to why they haven’t promoted you, it may be time to look for a new job.

Start your search with People Management Jobs, the official job site of the CIPD.

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