How to ask for a promotion – complete guide

How to ask for a promotion – complete guide - How to get promoted at work

How to ask for a promotion – complete guide  · 

Asking for a promotion is often seen as a scary situation, as it puts us in the position to reveal our ambitions and dreams, and then be judged and possibly rejected by our superiors. However, it is the best way to advance your career and efficiently get into higher-level positions, so you should be ready to do it without hesitation whenever it is necessary. Here is eotsc’s complete guide on how to ask for a promotion – and get the best results.

Like anything else, asking for a promotion gets much easier when you know how you should do it, how to prepare properly and what to expect in the process. Also, knowing that you have positioned yourself well and proven your value already in the times leading up to the promotion opportunity gives you much needed confidence to get going. This article will discuss this essential aspect of career advancement, and it will hopefully help you to be well prepared and confident, once you spot a good opportunity and want to go for it. There are off course many ways to approach this challenge, and the following method is not the only way to go about it. It is however proven to be very effective, so you might want to give it a try next time you are looking to get promoted.

How to ask for a promotion: the quick process:

  1. Know what you want and find the right opportunity.
  2. Start preparing early enough for potential position openings by positioning yourself well: Deliver great results, gather additional supporting responsibilities, collaborate well with your colleagues and management, and drive to improve things in the company. If you start only when the position is announced, you are badly late.
  3. Once you spot the opportunity, act fast and initiate the discussion with the right people. Make it clear that you are committed to getting promoted, and you are ready to work hard for it.
  4. Find out all the requirements and responsibilities for the position. Also figure out the current challenges and problems the position and the organization under it are facing.
  5. Prepare a great presentation with a vision and strategy for the new position & prepare a concrete plan on how to run it to advocate your case and show the value in promoting you. Make sure you address all the current challenges and opportunities, and demonstrate that you are a credible candidate for the position, and can shift your thinking to the required level.
  6. Enlist your colleagues and other managers to recommend you for the position.
  7. Ask for a session with management and present your well-prepared case for the decision makers. Make it sure that everyone understands that you are well prepared, committed and ready to work hard. You have to sell yourself, and your plans, and convince everyone that you are the only right person for the job.

 When you have spotted the right promotion opportunity for you, it is time to get into action and prepare to ask for a promotion. If you have been doing things in your work correctly this far, you should already be considered as one of the top candidates for the position. This is, however, not the time to wait if you get lucky with the promotion, but to take the luck into your own hands and go after it: The best promotions are not given, they are taken. 

Preparing to get promoted, and then asking for a promotion on the right way are essential career management skills, and mastering them will have a huge effect on your career success and how easily and often you will get promoted. Knowing exactly how to ask for a promotion and how to prepare  before you even think about asking for promotions will also give you a huge confidence boost for presenting your case and negotiating the terms, responsibilities and salary increases associated with the promotion.

Depending on the process in your company, you might need to make a formal application for the new position, or you can get started by just talking with the person responsible for the promotion opportunity and decisions. The earlier you know about the opportunity, the better your chances are, as you can prepare yourself and make a good first impression and set the bar high for anyone else to enter the competition for the promotion. If you get in early enough, know how to get promoted in general, you are well prepared and have already a good relationship with the decision maker, you might be considered as the only possible candidate for the position.

The first thing to clarify is the exact position you are aiming for, and what are the requirements and responsibilities of the job. You have to know it, as you have to prepare for it. You have to know what your strengths and weaknesses for the position are, and you have to make a plan how to play them.

Figure out also an acceptable range for your new salary, as this will come into discussion at some point. Salary negotiations and tactics will be discussed further in my upcoming full book “7 Principles of Becoming a Leader

It must also be clear to you why you want this position and what is your main motivation, as this might come into discussion with your management. Here are just a few examples of why people usually want to get promoted:

  • Possibility to work with people and help them to grow and succeed.
  • To serve others, and make their lives better
  • More responsibility
  • Challenge
  • Gain more freedom (autonomy)
  • More influence and impact in the company
  • Possibility to grow and advance on your career (mastery)
  • Wealth & other rewards
  • To do more for some higher purpose, to make the world a better place
  • Ability to wield power
  • Status & influence
  • To build a management career

There are also situations where you should ask your manager for a general promotion without a new open position. This works for skill and expertise-based promotions, where you continue doing pretty much the same work, but with a bit bigger responsibility area, recognition and compensation. Promotions like these are usually steps from a junior position to “normal” position or to a senior position, for example, from a developer to a senior developer.

Preparation and presentation for asking a promotion

When you are asking for any promotion, you should be prepared to advocate your case convincingly: Prepare a memo or a presentation and then present it to the decision makers explaining clearly why you should get promoted, and how it would benefit the company. Your presentation should include at least:

  1. How you have managed your work, and what are your success stories.
  2. What additional responsibilities you have taken and what additional results you have delivered. Present especially those, that are contributing to the position you are aiming at.
  3. What skills, abilities and attitudes you have, which would make you a perfect choice for the position. If you know that you have some gaps in your knowledge and skills, you can point them out and present a training plan for yourself (that you have hopefully already started).
  4. Plan on how you would run and improve the team/department/division etc. you would be leading. This should be a well-thought out and complete operations and improvement plan for your target position. If the position requires a full business responsibility, you should have a clear vision for the business and prepare a full business plan accordingly. You can read more about this extremely effective strategy in the upcoming full book “7 Principles of Becoming a Leader
  5. Succession plan for yourself: Who can take up your old responsibilities. In the best case you have already started training your successor, making the transition easy for everyone.
  6. Points on how the company and your management would benefit from promoting you to the position: What additional value you would bring on top of your current contribution.
  7. All the additional arguments you can come up with to strengthen your case, and show why the position is good for you, and you are the best choice for the position. If you have people in your team, or other teams supporting you, tell it: You have to be seen as a potential leader that people would willingly follow.
  8. Reasons why you want the promotion.

Ask your management for a change to talk about your career development and promotion possibilities 

Once you have all the above prepared, ask for a chance to talk about the open position or your career advancement in general, and state your promotion wishes, and then proceed to present your case with as much confidence and enthusiasm that you can muster. Make sure that they understand that you are serious, and really want the promotion and that you have been preparing for it already for a while.

Be prepared to answer additional questions and be also prepared for time outs in your discussion. Sometimes the decision makers need time to process all the information and choices they have, and the process can take weeks or even months, and you need to have patience. The most important thing is that you initiated the process and presented your case well and made it clear that you are the top candidate for the promotion. Then the rest is up to your performance this far, your relationship with the management and how much they trust you, your negotiation and presentation skills, the support of your colleagues, and in the end just your determination and how much you really want to get promoted.

Don’t bring up the salary raise before you are selected, and if your management tries to bring it up in the middle of the process, you can try postponing the discussion by saying: “Let’s discuss the salary later, as I am sure that we can agree on a fair compensation, after we have agreed on everything else”. It is much easier to negotiate a better salary after everyone has agreed that you are the only right choice for the position and you are about to get promoted.

If your promotion gets rejected (which may well happen if you aim high), you have to get back to the drawing board. Ask your management for feedback and ask them to make in improvement and training plan for yourself, so you can address all the reasons why you weren’t promoted yet. Also analyse your own work, results and influence in the company with honesty, and try to make a reality check with yourself, and maybe with some trusted colleagues. Are you as good, as you thought you were, or do you have some serious gaps or problems in your work and results? It might hurt a bit, but this is the only way to get the truth out, and then proceed on addressing the issues.

It is also good to figure out if it is really something in you and in your expertise, or if it is something in your management, and they just don’t like or trust you for some reason. Remember, even the toughest business decisions have human emotions involved on some level, and so does your management’s decisions about your career advancement.

If your management refuses to give you feedback or make any improvement plans with you, it is a clear sign that you are not on their short list for the promotions, and you might have to consider your options outside of their departments or the whole company. This is especially true, if you want to advance on your career and get promoted quickly. Fast career advancement and getting (quick) promotions require the right employer which provides enough opportunities through company’s growth and expansion on top of your own excellent contributions and promotion potential.

The key thing to understand about trying and getting rejected is that If you get rejected, this doesn’t make you any worse person, or a failure. You just failed in something ambitious you had courage to try, and this happens to everyone now and then. Analyse the situation, learn from it, improve and try again. This is the only working formula for continuous success and achievement (and getting promoted fast and often).

Sometimes finding the right promotion opportunity inside your company or department seems to be impossible, and if you are determined to advance on your career, you have to consider your options, and make some tough choices: Either you have to look further in your current company, or you could start looking for better possibilities beyond your current employer. However, finding the right promotion opportunities is a topic for another article, and it is also discussed in depth in the aforementioned book.  Also remember that you should be constantly building up your credibility for higher-level work and you should be doing it even before there are any possible promotion opportunities present. Knowing how to ask for a promotion is just the last step of the complete process on how to get promoted after you have built enough credibility to be considered as a good candidate for higher-level promotions in general. 

How to ask for a promotion summary

  1. Know what you want and find the right opportunity.

  2. Start preparing early enough for potential position openings.

  3. Once you spot the opportunity, act fast and initiate the discussion with the right people

  4. Find out all the requirements and responsibilities for the position.

  5. Figure out the current challenges and problems the position and the organization under it are facing.

  6. Prepare a great presentation with a vision and strategy for the new position & prepare a concrete plan on how to run it. 

  7. Enlist your colleagues and other managers to recommend you for the promotion and new position.

  8. Ask for a session with management and present your well-prepared case for the decision makers. 

  9. After your presentation, ask if they see you would be a good fit for the promotion and position.

  10. If they agree that you are a good fit, ask to be promoted and start to negotiate your new salary.

Extra resources for learning how to get promoted fast and often at your work:


If you want to learn how to do everything discussed in this article, check out my best-selling book on Amazon!

7 Principles of Becoming a Leader – The definitive guide for starting and building your management career by Riku Vuorenmaa will teach you this and everything else you need to know to build your dream career.

Do you want to lead?

7 Principles of Becoming a Leader is the only book of its kind that covers everything you need to do to become a leader. The comprehensive method outlined in this book will guide you through all the essential principles of building a successful management career:

Professional development: Personal excellence and productivity 
Leadership development: Mindset and essential leadership skills 
Personal development: Your identity and character as a leader 
Career development and management: Get promoted and well paid 
Social skills and networking: Work with the right people 
Business and company understanding: The big picture 
Commitment: Decide and commit to become a good leader  

7 Principles of Becoming a Leader starts from the very beginning of the leadership journey and takes you through every step to becoming a leader who is in control of their work, career, and life.

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