Congratulations! You’ve been at your current employer for a while now. Maybe six months. Maybe your annual review is coming up. Now is a great time to be thinking about what’s next, what you want for yourself, and how to share that with your supervisor. According to LinkedIn, 94% of job applicants say they will stay with a company longer if it invests in their career development. While the hope may be that an advancement opportunity comes your way, waiting for a position may not be your best bet. Sometimes the only way to be presented with an opportunity is to create it ourselves. Don’t forget that you can ask for that promotion you’ve been waiting for.
Asking for a promotion can seem daunting, but preparing for the discussion can help improve your chances. Here are six areas you will want to highlight to strengthen your case.
While outlining your accomplishments is key, you should also focus on additional tasks you have taken on that differ from the original responsibilities from when you were first hired. If you only focus on what was in your job description, it may come off that you are merely meeting the expectations of your current role whereas you want to make the case you are ready for the next one. Think about projects you have initiated or volunteered for, cross-departmental training opportunities, and where you have improved processes and efficiency. Remember, you’ve grown in your role and you’re not the same person who was hired; highlight that growth and use it as an example of what you can achieve in the organization.
Stories are nice, but numbers matter too. You will want to include quantitative measures where you can and highlight the impact. For example, consider the difference between “processed 250 applications in January” vs. “processed 250 applications in January – a YOY (year over year) increase of 20%”. You may have a great understanding of what you do but your boss and upper-level management may not. By quantifying what you do for the organization, you can show them the broader impact you have.
Depending on where you want your career to go, continuing your education may be a requirement for the next step in your career. Continuing education and new certifications and skillsets can be a multi-year investment so this means you should start planning well in advance of a potential promotion. Take time to learn about the required or recommended education levels your employer has for various positions. Even if a degree is not strictly required, it can help you stand out in a competitive candidate pool. The more you show how you want to invest in your growth there, the more your employers will want to invest in you.
Having a great relationship with your boss is important, but so is a great relationship with your boss’s boss. Unless your boss is the owner of the company, they will have to seek input from their leaders before promoting one of their employees. If you have already made a name for yourself with leadership, you may be better positioned. Seek opportunities to join committees, projects, presentations, and other cross-functional team activities to help improve your brand.
In addition to great relationships with leadership, making an impact with peers across different departments can help you stand out as well. Demonstrating that you make a difference, not only with your department but others, can further solidify your impact on the organization as a whole. Ask team members you have collaborated with if they would serve as references if asked. As with any reference, share with them the type of position you are going for so they can better support you.
Not only should you consider where you want to go now, but where do you see yourself going in the future? Being prepared to show that you have a long-term plan of how you will continue to make an impact on your organization demonstrates your commitment and strategic thinking skills at the same time.
And remember, a promotion does not just have to be about money or job titles. You may want a more flexible schedule, and the ability to run a project or move to a new worksite location. Whatever a promotion looks like to you, clearly outlining why you are the right fit is the first step.
Brendan Barbieri is a career development professional with over ten years of experience in the education sector.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.