How to ask for a promotion

The Robert Half how to ask for a promotion video gives job seekers practical career development advice. With 7 key strategies identified such as preparing your case and planning your next steps, Robert Half gives careers advice tips on how to work more effectively with your boss.

Neil Owen, Global Practice Director of Robert Half looks at how to ask for a promotion.



If you’re craving additional challenge at work or eyeing a recently vacated position in your company, you may also be thinking about the possibility of a promotion.

For many professionals, asking for a promotion can be daunting as many assume that their manager should initiate the process. Most managers, however, appreciate employees who are assertive and are eager to help you map out your career path. So how do you go about asking for a promotion?

Are you ready? Have you already started to take on responsibilities? How does it feel? Do you enjoy the extra challenges they offer? If so, then think about your additional contributions to the organisation and how these will help you obtain a promotion.

Improving your visibility through volunteering for special projects, networking with internal stakeholders, and developing your specialist and leadership skills is a great start. As is identifying areas for improvement; for both the company and yourself.

The more employees and managers who consider you to be an indispensable resource, the better your chances for promotion. Is the time right? If your company is cutting expenditures or had a bad quarter it’s probably not the ideal moment to ask for a promotion. Be familiar with your company’s protocol, as some consider promotions during annual performance reviews only. Also pay attention to timing when you schedule a conversation with your supervisor. The best times are generally when your manager has a lighter workload, and is more likely to feel open minded and relaxed.

  • Prepare your case.

Before the meeting, think about the reasons why you should be promoted. Keep a running tally of key accomplishments and contributions you’ve made to the company’s bottom line, problems you’ve solved and how you’ve saved the company money. Also include any specialised training you have taken that is relevant for the new role.

  • Be polite yet confident.

Once you are in the meeting, explain briefly which position or area of new responsibilities you have in mind and why you feel you are qualified. Maintain a calm demeanour, and do not become defensive or emotional, even if your request is not immediately accepted. If you are told that the timing is not right, ask when it would be appropriate to bring up the matter again and how you might improve your skills in the meantime.

So what do you do if you are passed up for a promotion? When a coveted promotion that you felt you deserved is awarded to someone else, it’s natural to feel disappointed. It may even seem that your career has been knocked off course. So, how do you handle it?

  • Allow time to process your feelings.

After missing out on a promotion, it’s common to feel a sense of rejection or defeat. Rather than isolate yourself, reach out to members of your professional network, such as former colleagues and mentors. It’s likely they’ve undergone a similar experience in the past, and could offer their support and advice for overcoming negative feelings.

  • Plan your next steps.

Use the feedback you receive from the conversation to reassess your strengths and shortcomings. If you were passed over because you lacked a key skill for the position, develop a strategy for growing professionally. This may include additional training or certification, working with a career coach or requesting more challenging assignments that require you to stretch your talents.

  • Objectively assess the setback.

After you’ve recovered from the initial disappointment, consider all of the factors that may have influenced the promotion decision. For example, the other candidate might have had experience you’re unaware of, making him or her more qualified for the role. Or perhaps your manager did not know that you had expected to be considered for the promotion.

  • Look at your broader career goals.

Again, take into account the likelihood that you will be a candidate for promotions in the future. If you intend to stay with your current company, work with your manager to ensure that the next time a promotion arises, you're first in line for it. Set performance benchmarks and goals to meet, and get your boss’s input about ways you can strengthen your prospects.

Taking action immediately to get back on track after a missed promotion turns the setback into a learning opportunity. This will ensure you emerge from the experience with a clearer sense of your professional goals, as well as how to achieve them.

To watch other career advice videos from Robert Half, please visit or our You Tube channel – RobertHalfUK.


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