How to ask for a promotion: Five tips for planning the conversation.

howtoaskforapromotionIt can be a nerve-wracking experience, approaching the boss to ask for greater responsibility and (gasp) more money. There is the fear of rejection, first and foremost, along with the concern that you might lose motivation or your relationship with your boss might suffer if this doesn’t pan out.

Well, most of us have worries like these, but you can put them to rest if you go in with the right plan and preparation. You’ll also want to get some perspective on how you can proceed in case things don’t go your way. If you want a good headstart, you can take a course specifically designed to help you negotiate a promotion or raise. Here are some suggestions you can use when you go in for the big ask:

Make clear why the promotion is appropriate

Why is it in the company’s best interest to bump your salary up and give you a more responsible position? Make sure you put that question first when you explain your reasoning.

Remember that in the eyes of the company, this ultimately is not about you or personally rewarding your behavior. It is about how you have proven to be capable of getting results; how you can provide value that ultimately drives a return on investment for the business. It very well could be that what you are worth to them is greater than what you are currently being paid. But you need to help them understand why that is in a business sense.

So think about how you can frame up your position to fit as closely with the company’s perspective as possible. Focus on concrete results figures as much as you can. It may help you to get some persuasion tactics down. You can learn them in a course covering the power of persuasion.

Explain your plan

Keep in mind also, that when you are proposing a business action, it isn’t enough to focus only on your past achievements. You need to give a clear picture of how the change is going to pan out and turn in to a benefit for the company. What are you going to do in this new position to get things on track for increased profitability? How, also, will your contribution make your department and your boss look good? It’s best to have your numbers in order when you approach this.

Ultimately, your goal is to present a sales pitch about yourself and be persuasive. To that end, it could do you a lot of good to learn some skills in a course on persuasion techniques.

Time the conversation

The time you choose to confront this issue is a big deal. You probably don’t want to land it smack in the middle of a budget crunch, when your boss is trying to figure out how to make it through the fiscal year with the expenses already lined up. You’re probably best off considering also the human factors that will affect the outcome. Is your boss happy, and is the department currently functioning well?

It can be a convenient choice to broach the topic during your annual or semi-annual performance review, which will most likely be scheduled at a time when budgets are being determined and the conversation fits in with the planning iniiatives.


Apart from what you say during your negotiation, you will want to pay attention what you are saying about yourself and the image you are putting across long before you make your ask. You want to make sure your management understands the value you are contributing and how other professionals and departments are appreciating your work.

Sure, you don’t want to be overbearing, but there is a lot you can do to make sure your boss knows just how valuable you are with the work you provide on a daily basis. One great way to communicate this is through a periodic report that shows your contributions. If you don’t already have something like this as part of your role, you may want to work with your boss to set something up. Now, if you want to make this manageable, you may want to boost your skills on producing quality reports. And that means having some spreadsheet skills that will make the process much more automatic. Try a course on the latest version of Excel to gain confidence in commiting to a regularly scheduled report of your accomplishments.

You can also look for ways to report back great outcomes and praise that you receive from other departments. When you make your department look good, your boss looks good as well, so any good manager will likely celebrate your accomplishments with you.

Be visible

It’s great to communicate good outcomes on anything you take on, but one thing that can also go a long way when you are working toward a promotion is taking on high-profile jobs. If you can bring something to the table in an initiative that holds a lot of weight for the company, you will likely reap the rewards when it’s time to talk about your position and compensation. It is a great way to quickly make yourself known as a cornerstone for the business’s success.

Remember to manage expectations and carve out sufficient time to do exceptional work when you are taking something like this on. Make sure it is also aligned with your department’s goals and that your boss is on board. If you are confident that you can take on the necessary role, go after this kind of critical work, and your career will very likely thank you for it.

The bottom line

Ultimately, even in tough economic times, good companies know that valuable employees are worth the price they pay. So if you are doing well in your current role and think it is time to move up, there is no need to approach a conversation about this with any trepidation. Just get yourself educated on how to do it right and go for it! Good luck.