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The Do’s and Don’ts Of Asking For A Promotion

Asking for a promotion can be a stressful experience.  The advantage is you may get a better role with more responsibility and of course more money.  But on the flip side, you could be setting yourself up for failure and rejection.

What if my boss says no?

What if I’m not good enough to get what I’m asking for?

It’s a daunting experience that quite often renders us unable to pluck up enough courage.

Follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts to build your case for a promotion and get yourself one step closer to living your dream career.


Show Your Worth

Preparation is key.  Go in to the meeting armed with a comprehensive list of specific examples of your responsibilities and tangible documentation of how much money you have made the company.

Modesty won’t get you far.  Be confident and use specific metrics such as client numbers, sales figures, success rates etc. Nothing is more powerful than straight forward figures that your boss can’t ignore.

Know Your Why

Make the reason why you want the promotion about the company, not your own needs.  You need to have a logical flow of reasons - experience level, more responsibility, achievements and your personal ‘kudos’ file with notes of appreciation and accolades you’ve received over a period of time.

Right Place, Right Time

There is never a perfect time to ask for a promotion but your timing should be strategic. Your boss is no doubt a very busy person and certain times may not be the most beneficial or appropriate – like Monday morning when a big company project is due.

Be strategic in planning the most effective time that plays to your advantage. Consider the financial position of the company, the stage your department is in, the current state of the economy and even when your boss is in their best mood. Is it after a coffee?  Perhaps.  But try not to fall into the trap of making it too casual. Keep it professional, within business hours, in a suitable location and flexible to your boss’s busy schedule.

Follow Up

Send your boss an email thanking him/her for the opportunity to speak with them and outline the key points discussed.

Set specific and measurable goals that you both agree on to ensure your promotion is not overlooked and forgotten about. Reiterate these points in the email and importantly create a date that you and your boss can review them.  And then be sure to follow up.  If you really want the promotion, prove it by not giving up but following up.


Compare Yourself To Co-Workers

Making your case for a promotion should be about you, not anyone else. ‘Jimmy got a promotion and he’s been here 2 months less than I have’ is not a proper justification as to why you deserve a promotion.

Comparing yourself to others is an ineffective way to make yourself look good, and doesn’t prove your worth.   Instead be specific about yourself; your goals, accomplishments, targets met etc. What have you done to deserve this promotion?  Leave Jimmy out of this.

Make Threats

Threats are not influential and they won’t get you anywhere.  Threats such as ‘if I don’t get a pay rise by at least 10% I’m leaving’ only show you are not committed to the long-term future of the business.

Employers are looking for employees who are consistently evolving with the company, developing their skills and performance objectives accordingly. By making threats of leaving only show that you are not committed to the long-term future of the company and when things don’t go your way, you throw a tantrum and quit. Is that anyway to get a promotion?!

Let The Answer Effect Your Attitude

If you don’t get the promotion, do not let it slow you down or negatively affect your attitude. Getting cynical will only show your boss you aren’t right for the job.

Instead ask why, how, and what you can do to be more suitable, or on the right track for the promotion. Be specific in order to drive forward toward your goals.

Take on board your bosses feedback and prove you are trying everything possible to meet their requests, and are serious about this promotion. Be positive and persistent, keep working towards your new objectives and goals, you’ll be sure to get there with a good attitude.


Take the fear out of asking for a promotion. Say exactly what your boss wants to hear by following these simple do’s and don’ts.

Have you ever asked for a promotion?  What’s your advice?

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