Professional Development

How to convince your boss you’re ready for a promotion

Written by Guest Contributor

Professional conversations take place on a daily basis. Some of these occur on the spur of the moment as an issue or question arises. Others, though, require a bit more care and preparation. Case in point: asking for a promotion.

It takes both time and effort to talk yourself up without coming across as immature or arrogant in order to convince someone else that you’re ready to take on new responsibilities. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get ready in the days and weeks leading up to the big conversation.

Build your confidence

While it’s easy to talk to coworkers and even managers when you’re in your element, it’s just as easy to feel intimidated when asking for a promotion. You’re initiating a conversation with a superior outside of your normal work responsibilities, and the entire situation can feel very uncomfortable.

With that in mind, it’s helpful to take the time to build your confidence beforehand. This can be done in multiple ways, including:

  • Taking the time to mentally focus and meditate beforehand
  • Dressing well to bolster your confidence
  • Practice your professional etiquette — things like good posture, maintaining eye contact, and practicing active listening

Identify what you’re asking for

This may sound unnecessary, but it’s important to take the time before you ask for a promotion to properly identify exactly what you’re asking for. While you may feel ready to move up the corporate ladder, if you go in asking for any and every form of advancement available, you may end up being offered a position that you don’t actually want or no position at all. 

There are certain promotions that, when identified, actually should be turned down. For instance, a manager might offer you a position that simply means you’ll have more work at the same pay or promotion that sends you off your career track. Make sure to identify what you’re asking for and what you want, and be ready to steer the conversation towards that.

Figure out your timing

Timing can be everything when it comes to these kinds of conversations. If you find that a boss is busier in the mornings, try to meet with them at a different time. If you find that they’re having a bad day or are moody, don’t choose that time to initiate a conversation. 

Each situation is different, but it’s important to take the time to gauge when you think you’d have the best chance of success.

Build your case

If you’re hoping to get a promotion purely off of your own opinion of yourself, you’re likely to end up disappointed. While you can certainly start by giving your opinion, you should back it up by using any facts, data, metrics, and any other proofs you might have to back up your claims.

Outline specific scenarios that demonstrate that you’re ready to take the next step. Demonstrate how you’ve learned to manage more risk, taken on greater responsibilities, or learned to properly delegate. If your new position involves managing others, especially those who are currently your peers, explain how you’re ready to communicate expectations and goals with them if you were to become their superior.

Also, consider generating quality recommendation letters. Having others vouch for you can be a powerful way to support your bid for promotion. If you’re not sure where to turn for good recommendations, consider tapping your professional network in order to look for reputable referrals and endorsements.

Be a team player

In addition to discussing your own qualifications and skills, make sure to talk about the company itself. Show your vision for the future and how you see yourself helping the organization succeed. What do you think can be improved? How can the company explore new forms of growth? Make sure to take time beforehand to clarify and distill this into manageable pieces of information that aren’t overly complex.

Brainstorm the results

One helpful strategy to consider before asking for a promotion is brainstorming all of the reasons that your boss might turn you down. Some may be personal, but there are plenty of other reasons that could factor in as well. Does the company even need someone in the position you’re looking to fill? Can they afford to promote you financially? 

Go over each possibility carefully and consider how will you respond if they do, indeed, come up.

Detach your emotions

It’s never really possible to fully detach from a scenario like this. Still, taking some time to thoughtfully try to disconnect your emotions from the outcome of your endeavor can be wise. 

After all, if you’ve already taken the time to brainstorm why your boss might say no, you’re probably aware of the fact that there are a variety of reasons your request could be turned down that have nothing at all to do with you. While you always want to hope for the best, it’s also important to remain as emotionally detached as possible, especially as you go about actually requesting the promotion itself.

Going in with a plan

If you can take the time for these kinds of preparations beforehand, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the long run. Even if one particular request for a promotion doesn’t go as planned, sticking to a professional approach that takes into account proper preparation will only serve you well as you progress through each step in your professional career.

About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.

About the author

Guest Contributor