Asking for a promotion is a common occurrence in many career paths, as you look to climb the hierarchy and move into more senior and managerial roles. Yet we often are not told how to ask for a promotion when we first set out on those career paths. 

Knowing how to ask for a promotion can improve your prospects of getting a positive response. It can be the difference between sounding unhappy in your current role and sounding ambitious and eager to progress. 
In this article, we'll take a look at how to ask for a promotion to a more senior position, as well as how to ask for a title promotion that rewards you for the job you do. 

How to ask for a promotion to a more senior position 

If you're looking for a promotion up the career ladder, then you need to demonstrate to your employer that you are capable of carrying out that more senior role. In essence, you are applying for a job that you don't already have - you are simply doing so as an internal candidate.

Know what you want 

Be clear about the promotion you are going for. There may be a current vacancy above you in the company hierarchy, or at an appropriate level in another department. If there is no vacancy, you'll need to make a persuasive argument for why the role should be created for you. 

A promotion request should always bring you closer to your career aspirations and goals, whether they are new responsibilities and professional skills you need to succeed, or overall career development.

If possible, have clear ideas about the salary you expect and the terms of your employment. More senior roles typically carry more responsibility for greater financial reward. Be sure before you commit to unpaid overtime or to make yourself available out-of-hours, for instance. 

Make your case

 As well as defining the role you want to be promoted into, you should also start to build your case for why you are the person to be placed in that position. Treat this similarly to a job application, albeit an internal one. 

You should be able to strengthen your application with insider knowledge. Your experiences in the workplace are likely to be highly relevant to working in a senior role in that same workplace. If you feel you've already picked up managerial responsibilities, make that known too - we will look at how to ask for a title promotion in a moment. 

Consider transition 

It can strengthen your case if you show your employer or line manager that you have considered the transition period as you move away from your current position and into a new managerial role. That means ensuring continuity both for your current role, and for your new, more senior job. 

You could offer to shadow the current manager as they work their notice period, if you're going to be taking over from somebody who is leaving. Equally, you could offer to train the new person in your old job or make yourself available to lend advice if they have any questions in their first days. 

How to ask for a title promotion

Asking for a title promotion can be a little different than asking for a promotion in general. In the case of a title promotion, you may be asking for a change in your job title to reflect the work that you are already doing. 

Prove your worth 

Try to offer concrete evidence that you are essentially already working in a role that should earn you an upgrade on your job title. Some ways you can do this include: 

  • Showing that you have been carrying out the duties of a manager who left. 
  • Show that your role is broadly equivalent to that of managers in other departments. 
  • Compile data showing your high level of productivity, output, or revenues. 

In general, you want to highlight that your contribution to your company is greater than should reasonably be expected, given your current job title.

This is a fairly normal part of getting any promotion - employers often expect their employees to work the role they want, rather than the role they already have. 

Know the hierarchy 

Like asking for a general promotion, it's important to know what roles actually exist within your company hierarchy. Your application for a title promotion is more likely to be successful if you can apply for a title that other employees hold too. 

Your employer might have a published hierarchy showing the employment structure in your company or department. Alternatively, look at the email signatures of co-workers in roles similar to the one you want, for an indication of the type of job title you might be able to lay claim to. 

Expect knockbacks 

Don't lose hope if your line manager declines your first application for a title promotion. If you're already doing the work, they might feel there is no good reason to give you a promotion in title only, especially if it carries a pay rise with it. 

Instead, have a candid discussion with management about your current role and the fact that it has grown to exceed its initial scope. You may be able to negotiate a pay rise without technically being promoted, or put in place medium-term plans to create a new, more senior role that reflects your duties better. 

Don't delay  

There's no good reason to delay asking for a promotion. By making your feelings known to your manager, you can get the ball rolling and make sure that your name is considered for any positions of seniority that emerge in the weeks and months ahead.

It often takes some time to complete the promotion process, especially if it means creating a new role or handling the transition and succession from a highly capable individual who is leaving the company. 

Your employer is likely to consider your request more seriously if they can see you are willing to work towards a promotion, rather than simply asking for a pay rise for the duties you already carry out - even if those duties are not what you originally signed up for. 

Be professional and persistent. While it may take several months to get a promotion lined up, if you keep polite pressure on your manager, it's likely to pay off eventually. Just be vigilant for any suggestion that senior management are promising you a role that will never become a reality - if it feels like this is the case, you might want to consider your long-term career prospects, and whether you could climb the ladder faster elsewhere.

What’s next? 

If your request for a promotion in your current company is still going unheard, it might be time to consider moving on. Whether you end up pursuing a lateral career change to a company that can offer you more progression, or to a more senior position elsewhere, finding a new job could be the best thing for your overall career progression. 

Submit your CV today and one of our expert recruitment consultants will be in touch to discuss your skillset and help you find a job you love. 

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