How To Ask For A Promotion (Everything You Need To Know)

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Table Of Contents

More workers are getting promoted, according to LinkedIn data, which showed that 9% of the site’s 47 million active users earned a promotion in 2021. That’s a 0.9% jump over pre-pandemic numbers.

Want to join their ranks? To get a promotion, you’ll need to show that your work has made a direct impact on your employer’s goals. So gather your data–including performance reviews, client and co-worker kudos, and even a copy of your latest resume–and get ready to make your case.

If you are interested in a promotion, but don’t know what to ask for, it may be helpful to research salary data. You can look up real salary data from employers on ZipRecruiter! ZipRecruiter is also the place to go if you are looking for a job. You can apply to jobs with a single click!

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How To Ask For A Promotion 

Before you even send a meeting request to your manager, do your homework.

Get Ready To Brag

Gather evidence of your contributions including performance reviews that show you’re exceeding KPIs for your role. Look for examples of times you’ve helped the company make or save money or otherwise outperformed expectations.

Then, research job descriptions and salary ranges on sites like Indeed,, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter. How do your qualifications make you a perfect fit for this new role? Look for ways to show that promoting you will help the company continue to succeed.

Example: “After participating in company management training, I’ve led several initiatives, including our most recent project, which finished two weeks early and under budget. I’ve consistently sought leadership opportunities and would love to apply this experience to a management role.”

Be Flexible

You may be hoping to land a specific role–the one above you in the org chart, for example. However, it’s best to keep an open mind. There may be other opportunities on the horizon that you don’t know about yet. Staying flexible will ensure that your manager stays on your side. You may wind up with another promotion that suits you better than your initial goal.

Example: “I hear what you’re saying about wanting someone with more coding experience. I am taking several web development classes right now, but I’d love a chance to put my skills to work in the real world. Do we have any upcoming projects where I could get more experience in this area?”

Be Ready to Hear “No” (or “Not Right Now”)

Join The Break Community

Sometimes, the answer is no. Your manager may not see your potential or may have budget limitations that make it impossible to promote you right now. Regardless of the issue, stay positive. Being able to take bad news is a soft skill that doesn’t get much press, but it’s a valuable addition to your skill set. If all else fails, make sure this manager will give you a good reference when you take your talents elsewhere.

When To Ask For A Promotion

It might sound counterintuitive, but the worst time to ask for a promotion is during your annual review. Why? For one thing, budgets are typically set by this point. Even if your manager agrees with your assessment that you deserve more responsibility (and more money), they probably won’t be able to make their budget stretch to accommodate your request.

However, annual reviews are a good time to start the discussion–provided that your review is positive. When you’re exceeding all your goals, it’s natural to start thinking about new challenges including a promotion. Use this moment to tell your manager about your own professional goals at the organization. Then, ask what you need to do to move up.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t ask for a promotion when business is bad. If budgets are tight, you’re unlikely to get more money even if they are willing to give you a better job title.
  • Always set a meeting to discuss a promotion or raise. Don’t sandbag your boss with a request they’re not expecting. They won’t be disposed to help you move up.

What To Avoid When Asking For A Promotion

Even if the conversation doesn’t go your way, you can still come out ahead–if you don’t make any of these mistakes:

Assuming That Your Boss Is Your Adversary

TV and movies have trained us to think of the manager-managee relationship as fraught with conflict. That makes good binge-watching, but it’s not a great situation in real life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In a successful negotiation, the participants are partners, not adversaries. Remember that your employer needs your skills and hard work just as much as you need a job. When you envision the conversation, think of negotiating partners trying to come to a mutually beneficial agreement–because that’s the reality.

Appeals To Emotion

Especially if you feel that you’re overdue for a promotion, it can be hard not to bring emotion into the conversation. Resist this urge. Let your data do the talking and avoid discussion of your feelings about the issue.

Above all, do not talk about non-work-related reasons for wanting more money or a better position. For example, don’t bring up your financial situation when negotiating salary.

Comparisons To Peers (Even If They’re Fair)

It’s easy to feel resentful if your co-workers are getting promoted and you haven’t been given the nod just yet. But keep in mind that you don’t know their situation. They may have skills and qualifications that you don’t know about. It’s also possible that your boss doesn’t know your professional goals. If you’ve never discussed promotion or your career path at the company, start with that discussion.

Negativity Of Any Kind 

No matter what, keep the conversation as positive as possible. Don’t threaten to quit, or make unflattering comparisons between your colleagues’ work and your own. Be kind to your future self and make sure you have as many options as possible later on. Even if you decide to leave the company and move on to better opportunities, you’ll be glad you left on a high note.

The Bottom Line

Here’s another bonus of preparing to ask for a promotion: you now know exactly how much your talents are worth. If you’re ready to take your skills to the job market, ZipRecruiter can help. Find jobs near you and apply for free.