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Tips for Negotiating for a Promotion

Wed, Jan 1, 2020

If you’re sitting around waiting for a promotion, don’t expect one anytime soon. It isn’t enough to have seniority and great performance reviews. 

The first and often most overlooked step in receiving a promotion is to ask for one

Few employers take the time to look around at who deserves promotions and start handing them out. If your career aspirations involve advancing to higher-level positions, you have to advocate for yourself. That means negotiating for a promotion. 

But before you rush in and schedule a meeting with your boss, take some time to get prepared. You’re going to have to make a case for yourself to convince management that promoting you is worthwhile to them. 

You also might be competing against other candidates for that promotion. This isn’t a conversation where you can go in and wing it. 

If you are planning on asking for a promotion soon, here are some negotiation tips to help you present yourself in the best possible light and help your boss see why you are worth advancing:

Tip #1: Do your research.

Before you discuss a promotion, you need to understand what new responsibilities the role requires. Do you have those skills and training? Have you proven yourself in similar tasks before? Do you want to have that level of responsibility? 

A promotion isn’t just about a new title. You need to feel confident that you are ready for the challenge too.

You also should research fair compensation for that role so you have reasonable expectations when it comes time to discuss a pay raise and other benefits. 

Tip #2: Keep context in mind.

Before asking for a promotion, note the current climate of your company. Are things going well at work, or is there instability and uncertainty about the organization’s future? If your company is going through a rough patch, it might not be the right time to discuss an advancement. At the very least, be aware there might not be room in the budget to meet your salary request.

Tip #3: Build your case.

Management needs to see why they should invest in you by promoting you. They need to know that they can trust you to take on the responsibilities of a higher-level role and benefit the company. 

Prepare ahead of time to make your case. Gather evidence of your previous contributions and performance. Stick with measurable facts that show your experience and achievements. Numbers that show improvements you’ve made for the company or praise from superiors and colleagues are ideal. 

Practice explaining what value you bring to your organization and how you can bring more value in a higher role. 

Tip #4: Remember your employer’s goals.

At every point during your preparations and negotiation, keep your employer’s perspective in mind. It’s their job to make decisions that benefit the company. Focus on how your promotion will support your organization’s goals and values. 

Don’t make the promotion about what you will get from them but rather what they will get from you. At every opportunity, frame your promotion as a way to collaborate rather than as a reward for you. 

Tip #5: Keep things professional. 

When negotiating for a promotion, treat the conversation like any job interview. Be on your best behavior, and keep things factual and professional. Use a matter-of-fact tone and listen carefully to what your boss says. Make your case without resorting to emotion or getting too personal. 

Remember, you’re communicating why promoting you is beneficial to the company, not why you need more money or deserve a promotion instead of your colleague. 

Tip #6: Be confident.

This is often the hardest part of negotiating for a promotion, but don’t let your insecurities get the better of you. 

Discussing promotion opportunities is a normal part of doing business and building a career. As long as your past performance qualifies you for consideration and you make reasonable compensation requests, you shouldn’t worry about overstepping or looking out of touch. 

Go into promotion negotiations prepared and in the right frame of mind. If your boss rejects your promotion proposal, don’t take it personally. Use the experience and feedback as a way to work towards a future promotion. 

The first step in seeking a job promotion is to ask for one, but make sure you do it right. Do your research, and be prepared to advocate for yourself while focusing on your organization’s goals. 

A promotion might look like a personal reward for hard work, but you’re more likely to achieve one if you approach it as a way to work better for your employer and benefit the company. 

For more tips on how to move up the ladder, check out our guide to promotions.

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