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Asking for a promotion is a normal part of your career path. Unless you’re looking to progress in your career, you’re setting yourself back. However, asking for a promotion, whether at review time or at a time you deem most opportune, can be tricky.
I personally always dreaded the prospect of having to “do the ask,” as I used to call it. How do you introduce the topic? How do you ask without sounding overly greedy or ambitious? How do you hit the right note with your manager and actually score a win?
Here are a few tips to help you ask for a promotion (and actually get it):
Step 1: Craft Your Ask
Stepping into the negotiation room—any negotiation room—unprepared is a surefire way to fail. Take the time to think about and craft your ask first. Why do you want this promotion? What have you done in the past year to actually deserve this promotion? Have you performed above and beyond what is expected of you? Have you demonstrated that you are actually ready to take on new responsibilities?
Step 2: Pick the Right Time
Picking the right time for a promotion request is as important as the ask itself. While there’s no perfect time to ask for a promotion, some times are better than others. Most people will ask for a promotion at the time of their annual performance review, as it is a normal time to discuss career advancement.
In addition, you also want to keep abreast of what’s going on within your company, team or department. When people are moving up the ranks or leaving the company, or in cases of mergers or company restructuring, there may be an opportunity to discuss opportunities to move up in your career.
Step 3: Negotiate
Part of asking for a promotion is also being ready to negotiate the salary you want. However, you shouldn’t discuss a salary number until you’ve been offered the promotion. When the topic arises, make sure to know your numbers and what salary is applicable to your new position.
Most women don’t negotiate their salary — at least not as much as men do. Remember not to sell yourself short, though. You can actually start at the top of the range applicable for you, as the negotiation process will even things out. Sources to help you with this include Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.com.
Step 4: Brag and Give Credit
This is not the time to downplay your achievements. Don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments and even brag. However, be careful to strike a balanced note by attributing the credit to your manager for their leadership and guidance. A little flattery goes a long way, and is a smart way to channel your accomplishments.
Step 5: Make It About Them
Don’t just make your request for a promotion about yourself and your needs. Yes, you need the money, the perks and the opportunities that come with the next level in your career. However, you want to make sure that you portray your promotion as something that will further the interests of your manager, team and department. How is your promotion is going to benefit your manager? What more will you bring to the team or department?
Step 6: Define Your Competitive Advantage
Why should the promotion go to you and not somebody else? It’s important to define and outline your competitive advantage when requesting a promotion. What makes you so special and unique? In other words, what’s your superpower?
It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. It just has to be something that distinguishes you from the pool of other candidates. It may be a certain expertise or certification you have, some particular connections you have within and outside of the company, or even a project or vision you want to carry to fruition.
Step 7: Show Your Commitment
Don’t forget to reiterate your commitment to the team and company as a whole. Your promotion is not all about you, it’s also about giving something back to your team and department. Always make sure to outline how committed you are to the growth and performance of your team.
Step 8: Finish Strong
Your request for a promotion has to leave your manager with something to think about and carefully ponder. Make sure to have a strong close, and summarize the main points of your ask. Repeat the benefits you can bring to the team, thank your manager for all their support and finish by outlining what makes you unique and the most qualified candidate.
Step 9: Follow Up
If you get offered the promotion, great! However, if you don’t, make sure to follow up afterwards. Before leaving the meeting, even if you feel like it hasn’t been successful, ask your manager when is a good time to revisit the topic. Inquire about how you can improve your performance or acquire needed skills to get promoted in the future.
Solange Lopes is an author, CPA and writer/blogger. She blogs about career and lifestyle for professional women in her blog The Corporate Sister. She’s passionate about writing and women’s issues.
Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.