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The Recruiter’s Guide to Promotions

Think you deserve a promotion? Here's what you need to know before asking for one. 

Getting bored in your job? Feel you have more to offer? Perhaps you’re ready for a new challenge, a new department, or a pay raise.

Some employees might look for greener pastures elsewhere, but the right opportunity might already exist at your current company. 

While some employees are content to start on the ground floor of a company and make their career there, others have aspirations to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. If you have such goals but have been hanging out on the lower rungs for a while, perhaps it’s time to pursue a promotion. 

But before you set up a meeting with your boss, read our guide and learn a little more about what it takes to get a promotion and how to increase your chances of reaching your goal.


How to Know If You’re Ready for a Promotion

There are many reasons employees seek promotions. Top of the list is often more money, but you have to remember that a promotion means a lot more than a pay raise. 

A promotion entails a change in job title and level of responsibility. You have to be ready for that to enjoy the benefits of a promotion. 

Here are eight signs that you are ready for a promotion. If you do not currently see these signs, take them as tips for things to work on for the future. 

  1. You’re a top performer in your current role. You do your job well, and others recognize that. 
  2. You go above and beyond. You not only do your job, but you also take the initiative to do a little extra too. You are highly engaged and always looking for ways to be helpful. 
  3. Your job feels boring and offers no challenge unless you’re adding new things to it.
  4. You can do your boss’s job. If you often cover for your boss or perform their responsibilities to free up their time, you’re showing a lot of potential.
  5. You have developed new skills and talents that could apply to a higher-level job. 
  6. People come to you for your expertise and rely on your knowledge and skills. 
  7. Managers besides your own notice your achievements and request to work with you.
  8. You have a broad-enough view and understanding of your work to make effective suggestions for solutions and improvements.

Related: Employer's Guide: When Should You Give a Promotion to an Employee?


10 Industries with Great Potential for Upward Mobility

If you want to progress in your career, it’s important to work somewhere that offers opportunities for promotion. 

Some industries have better upward mobility than others. They either have a better variety of jobs, more leadership levels or a reputation for high-achieving workers. 

If you have lofty career goals, here are 10 industries (in no particular order) with the best upward mobility:

  1. Construction
  2. Public relations
  3. Hospitality 
  4. Accounting
  5. Staffing
  6. Recruiting 
  7. Management consulting
  8. Government 
  9. Warehouse work 
  10. Non-profits 

Learn More About Career Paths in These Industries >> 

Signs of Upward Mobility

Of course, these aren’t the only types of careers where you have any chance of promotion. An individual employer in any industry may offer particularly good upward mobility. 

Seek employers who prioritize career development and achievement for their employees. Here are a few signs that your employer provides upward mobility:

  • Management encourages employee development and offers new opportunities.
  • You receive mentorship.
  • Employees receive constructive feedback.
  • Leadership is accessible. 
  • The company values a growth mindset.


How to Negotiate for a Promotion

Once you decide you’re ready for a promotion, it’s time to talk to your boss. You can do this whether there’s an open position or give them a heads up that you want to progress in your career and appreciate their opinion and guidance. 

When you talk to your boss about a promotion, be prepared to make your case. They need to know that you are capable of performing new tasks and managing more responsibilities and that promoting you will be worth it to them in the end. You also might be competing against other coworkers for the promotion. 

When discussing a job promotion, consider these tips to help you present yourself in the best possible light and help your boss see why you are worth investing in:

Prepare ahead of time. Make sure you understand what level of responsibility is required to move up and what your company is looking for in the role you’re hoping to fill. Collect data that demonstrates how you bring value to your company and how your contributions prove you are ready to take on the additional responsibilities that come with a promotion. 

Also, research fair compensation for that role so you have a reasonable salary increase and other benefits in mind if they ask what you believe you deserve.

Show your value. With your research in hand, show your superiors what you already contribute and how you can expand upon those contributions in a higher-level role. 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. Ultimately, you want to show them why paying you more will be worth it to them in the end.

Keep context in mind. Pay attention to the current climate of your company. If there is any instability, it might not be the right time to discuss a promotion. Or you may need to adjust your expectations for compensation and request non-monetary benefits to balance a lower raise. 

Remember your employer’s goals. Keep your employer’s perspective in mind and focus on how your promotion will support the company’s goals and values. Don’t make the promotion about what you get from them but rather what they will get from you. Frame your promotion as a way to collaborate rather than as a reward or achievement for you. 

Keep things professional. Emotion has no place in negotiations. Simply present the facts about your prior performance and future goals. Use a professional tone in your discussion. And don’t bring personal factors into negotiations, like how you need the money or think you’re better than the person who got a promotion last year.  

Be confident. This is often the hardest part of negotiating at work, but don’t let your insecurities hold you back. Discussing promotion opportunities is a normal part of business. As long as you have good reason to believe you would be successful in a new role and make reasonable requests, you shouldn’t worry about overstepping. 

If your superiors reject your request for a promotion, don’t take it personally. Use the experience and feedback as a way to work towards a future promotion. 


How Working with a Recruiter can Help You Get that Promotion

Think recruiters only work with external job candidates? Think again. 

Often the best candidates for a job are existing employees who are familiar with the company and ready for a step up. If you are hoping for a promotion soon, it’s well worth the effort to reach out to your company’s recruiter to discuss any open roles and if you would be a good fit for one. 

Why work with a recruiter? Consider this:

  • A recruiter knows what positions are or will be available.
  • A recruiter knows what the hiring manager is looking for and if you fit the bill.
  • A recruiter knows all the ins and outs of internal hiring for your company.
  • A recruiter can offer tips for polishing your resume, brushing up on interviewing skills, etc. 
  • A recruiter’s success is dependent on finding suitable candidates, so they’re just as invested in you getting the job as you are.

When you work with a recruiter to pursue a promotion, it’s like having insider information. They can save you time and stress by helping you find a new role and preparing to negotiate for it. An experienced recruiter simplifies the process for you and increases your chances of success.

Read: Need a Promotion? Work with a Recruiter

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When Should Employers Give an Employee a Promotion?

Promoting employees is a normal part of doing business and one that employers should make a habit of doing to retain great talent and win employee loyalty. 

However, promotions should be merit-based and not given for empty reasons. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to when an employer should promote an employee, but there are several qualities to look for in a promotion candidate that tell you they are probably ready, such as:

  1. Consistent high performance
  2. Seniority
  3. Relevant skills and ability 
  4. Proper training
  5. Great potential
  6. The timing between other promotions
  7. Ability to work well with others 

Reaching Goals Through Promotion

If you have demonstrated the qualities of a great promotion candidate, don’t wait around for the perfect opportunity. 

Do your research and let your boss know you are interested in upward mobility. You also should reach out to your internal recruiter so they can look for a role for you and prep you for the application and negotiating process. 

Promotions are a great way to reach your individual employment goals, but they can help your employer meet their goals too. It can be challenging to find excellent external job candidates, so put yourself forward as an internal candidate and work with your employer to find a role where you can do your best work for both them and yourself.

Read Next: You've Reached the Top of the Ladder. Here's What to Do Next.

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We used SelectOne to fill key positions on one of Lorraine’s first portfolio companies and we could not be happier with the results or the experience. In addition to providing my firm with highly qualified candidates, all individuals at SelectOne were responsive, professional, sensitive to our needs, and insightful in their analysis of candidates. I highly recommend SelectOne.

Richard Gioia
Principal, Lorraine Capital

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