How to Ask for a Promotion (Tips and Examples)

Speaking to your manager about a promotion can be anxiety-inducing. But this simple guide will walk you through the process.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Worker asking manager for a promotion

There’s good news for employees looking to get promoted. Recent data gathered by LinkedIn shows that promotions for US workers shot up 9% in 2021, after flatlining in previous years. Industry changes from the pandemic and the subsequent “Great Resignation” mean there are company shake-ups and vacancies that offer great opportunity.

While asking for a promotion is one of the most anxiety-inducing challenges for employees, it is a necessary step to moving ahead in your career. With a little planning and self-confidence, you can climb the ladder to your dream job. To help you, we’ve put together this helpful guide to give you all the tips and tricks on how to ask for a promotion.

When to ask for a promotion

If you’re a focused and dependable worker with a strong work ethic, you’ve probably discovered that your workload has increased over time. Look at your current job description and note how many additional responsibilities you’ve taken on, especially in leadership roles. This is an easily quantifiable way of proving that you deserve a promotion.

High achievement at your job is another sign that you’re ready for new challenges. If you’ve signed up the most profitable clients, come up with an innovative product that dramatically increased customer orders, or landed a prestigious award for record-breaking sales numbers, it’s the perfect time to ask for recognition.

Many employers have a framework for moving up in the company and even earning raises. Once you’ve met certain educational or performance goals, you’re eligible for the next level. You may have also discussed a career development plan with your boss, and you’ve achieved your goals. Since you meet these specific metrics, it’s wise to ask for a promotion.

Tips for asking for a promotion

Now that you’ve acknowledged that you deserve a boost up the company ladder, it’s time to get prepared. Here are some tips to help you get the answer you want when you ask for a promotion.

1. Do your homework

Every boss expects their employees to perform well at their jobs, so impressing them requires specific data on not just your reliability at work but also how you’ve gone above and beyond your job description.

Make a list of any extra responsibilities you’ve taken on, and any achievements that have improved areas such as the company’s profits, workflow, customer service or productivity. Positive reviews and recommendations from department heads are also extremely helpful. Be prepared to explain the qualifications you have that will pertain to the job you want to be promoted to.

2. Know your salary numbers

Make sure you know your worth by using a variety of salary websites to check what other people at your level and in your industry are getting paid. This easily verifiable information will help you make your case for a fair pay rise.

Don’t jump the gun on discussing the numbers, though. Make your case for promotion first. Once you’ve been offered the position, then it’s time to talk salary.

3. Practice your pitch

Get all your documentation together and practice your talking points for the meeting. Ask a friend or coworker to listen to your pitch. They can also help you brainstorm possible questions your boss might ask so you can be prepared.

If you’re working on your own, record a video of your practice proposal. Watching the playback can help you critique your performance, including whether you’re speaking clearly and have positive body language.

4. Get the timing right

Ideally, you want to discuss a promotion when things are relatively calm at work, business is profitable, and there’s still time to work a bigger salary into next year’s budget. In order to avoid surprising your boss, you should plant the seed of your career development goals during regular performance reviews, when you’re already discussing your accomplishments and goals.

Don’t be afraid to capitalize on some upheaval at work, however. If coworkers in higher positions are quitting or moving to different roles, it can be a perfect time to sell yourself as part of the solution to management’s problems.

5. Ask for the meeting

Hopefully, you’ve already built up a good working relationship and know how to talk to your boss. If you’re in a constant collaborative environment, it may be natural to just casually ask when they’re available for a meeting. Otherwise, it’s best to follow their preferred method of scheduling, whether it’s in a formal email, through the work calendar, or making an appointment with their assistant.

6. Follow up

Always follow up your meeting with a formal email. If you landed the promotion on the spot, take a moment before your celebrations to send a straightforward “thank you” message. Express how you’re looking forward to the new role, and note one or two of the ways your boss helped you achieve your potential.

If you were turned down, don’t despair. In the meeting, ask what you need to do to get to the next level. In a follow-up email, thank your boss for their time and stress that you’ll be working on the goals you discussed. Then follow up periodically with your boss to discuss your progress and gauge how much closer you are to moving up.

Promotion request examples

Planning and preparation are key to getting your message across clearly when you ask for a promotion. Read on for our sample script on how to make your case for advancement to your boss, as well as how to follow up on your request.

Conversation script example

While you may have practiced everything you want to say beforehand, be prepared for questions from your boss. Whether you speak in person, or by phone or video chat, here’s a sample script of what you might expect when you ask for a promotion:

Promotion request script example

Email confirmation example

Whatever happens in the meeting, it’s important to follow-up with a “thank you” email. In most cases, it’s an opportunity to reiterate the highlights of your pitch, as in our sample email below.

Promotion request email follow-up example

Dos and don’ts

When asking for a promotion, remember to keep these things in mind:

  • Do: Be professional. Show that you’re serious about taking on more responsibility. Be on time for the meeting, be prepared, and dress appropriately for the role you want.
  • Don’t: Focus on yourself. Your presentation should mostly be about what you can do to assist your coworkers, make your boss look good, and contribute to the company’s success.
  • Do: Plan ahead. Keep setting career goals for the next level. Obtain the skills and certifications needed so you’ll be ready the moment there’s a job opening.
  • Don’t: Threaten to quit. This damages your working relationship with management and likely your long-term future with the company. The worst-case scenario? You’re out of a job.
  • Do: Be specific. Use hard data like sales numbers, productivity statistics and positive customer reviews to show exactly how you’re an asset to the company.
  • Don’t: Ignore feedback. If you don’t get the promotion, the reasons given will guide you to acquire specific skills, performance levels, or perhaps pursue an entirely different role.

Key takeaways

Asking for a promotion can be a very stressful undertaking, but the potential rewards make the effort worthwhile. There are three important things to remember:

  • Preparation is everything. Get the right qualifications, ask the right questions, and get your documentation together.
  • Build relationships. Having an open line of communication with your boss and colleagues makes everything easier.
  • Always follow up. You may not get the promotion immediately, but your diligence should pay off.

We hope this guide has helped you carefully plan how to ask for and get a promotion. Have any tips to add to make the process go smoothly? Join the discussion below and share your experience!

Originally published on November 8, 2020.