How to Talk With Your Boss About Career Promotions

Let your boss know you want to climb higher.
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If you haven't received the promotion you've been working toward, chances are your boss doesn't know you want it. Many employees think that if their work performance warrants it, their boss will promote them automatically. However, in fast-paced or under-resourced work environments, managers are less focused on micromanaging each employee's career track than they are on delivering results. The bottom line is if you want a promotion, you need to step up and say so.

    Step 1

    List the reasons why you deserve the promotion before you set an appointment to speak with your boss. Whenever possible, refrain from broad, unquantifiable statements and focus on measurable proof of your performance, like sales figures or customer testimonials. If your job doesn't have quantifiable factors, find a way to link your contribution to something that resulted in profit or new business.

    Step 2

    Email your boss first to request the meeting and share your agenda. If you wait until you are sitting in front of your boss to ask for a promotion, he will likely ask to think about it or respond negatively. Sending the basic request via email gives him a chance to put some thought into it before your meeting, and it also allows you to better articulate and present your initial argument.

    Step 3

    Remain professional and pleasant during the meeting, regardless of your boss's conduct. While some bosses may engage in a constructive, supportive dialogue, others may chafe at the prospect of losing a good team member or perceive your ambition as threatening to their power. Be prepared to maintain your composure should a debate about your performance, merits, or agenda begin. Whenever possible, link the request back to the quantifiable data.

    Step 4

    Do not take no for an answer. If you feel a promotion is warranted and you have the data to back it up, maintain a professional persistence when given a negative response. For example, if your boss cites performance issues as a reason for denying the request, ask what specifically you can do improve. Before you leave the meeting, ask to schedule another meeting in three to six months to follow up on this conversation and your promotion prospects.


    • Use the job description of the new role you want as a guide for how to make the case for your promotion.


    • Seek out other people in the organization who have attained the promotion you want and ask them for their advice on achieving it.


    • Keep a detailed written record of all correspondence and dialogue you have with your boss about the promotion.


    • Don't share your request with your co-workers to mitigate competition.

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