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How do you ask for a promotion? We’ll tell you.

You’re in a job, you’re working hard, you’re doing all the right things – but you’re still not getting a promotion. What gives? Every workplace is different, but if there is a pathway to advancement and you’re not getting anywhere, a conversation needs to happen to get some clarity.

Knowing how to ask for a promotion isn’t easy, but keep reading for advice around advocating for yourself and navigating the next steps in your career.

Step one: Get informed and prepared.

Before you even talk to your manager or to HR, you need to be well versed with all the information at hand. Here are just a few of the things you could research in advance of the big promotion conversation.

  • Know the requirements to get to the next job level: Are you an MT-1 and you’re looking to become an MT-2? You probably need to earn the second level of the certification to be considered, or maybe your workplace has a firm number of years of experience required before you are eligible for a promotion. Or both. Get this information clear before your meeting and figure out what you’ve done and what you have left to do.
  • Have conversations with your coworkers: When you’re on the site or around the water cooler, to the extent you’re comfortable doing so, talk to your coworkers. What did it take for them to get a promotion? What have previous conversations looked like with their supervisors? What does their salary or compensation look like?
  • Be prepared with data: What does compensation look like for this role in Virginia, particularly in your region? What does industry research show when it comes to career advancement? Check the Bureau of Labor Statistics to drill down.

Step two: Ask for a meeting with your supervisor.

Once you have all the information to help make your case for a promotion, then you’ll need to request a meeting. We suggest doing this in writing, first, so there is a paper trail. Then, if you don’t hear back, you can let them know that you sent a meeting request to them. Depending on your organization, a promotion conversation may start with your HR team. If you’re unclear on whether you start a conversation with your supervisor or HR, talk to your peers or go straight to HR for guidance.

Step three: Have a productive conversation.

Once the meeting is set, have an agenda and be calm and confident. You’re not there to be defensive or argumentative.

  1. Present your case for promotion based on the information you gathered. State your history with the company or in the role and what supports your case for advancement.
  2. Once you’ve made your case, ask for direct feedback as to why you haven’t received a promotion to date.
  3. From there, ask for explicit next steps. If you were told reasons why you haven’t had a promotion, define next steps that help you achieve a promotion in the near future. If you weren’t given clear reasons as to why you haven’t had a promotion, define next steps to help elevate the conversation to HR and/or leadership. Make sure those next steps are concrete, actionable and have a time frame associated with them.

Looking for more help navigating the job market? Career coaches at all 23 of Virginia’s Community Colleges provide support and advice for every step of the job search. Get started by connecting with a career coach today.