How to Negotiate Promotion With Your Manager

by Ellie Williams

    If you’re considering asking your boss for a promotion, prepare to negotiate. The burden of proof is on you, so you’ll need to make a strong case illustrating why you deserve a better position. You must also understand what your boss is looking for and what you can offer that no other employee can.

    Know Your Value

    Offer compelling evidence that you contribute enough to the organization to merit a more prestigious job title. If you take on responsibilities that exceed your job duties, write a list describing what you do every day. Draw your supervisor’s attention to the fact that you’re already performing many of the duties required for the job you want. For example, perhaps you already oversee projects or manage personnel. Or, maybe you’ve made changes that significantly increased sales or improved productivity. Be specific as you can, noting the dollar amount you brought in last year or the number of clients who signed on because of your efforts.

    Understand the Position

    Prove to your boss that you know what the promotion requires and that you’re ready to move up. Get a copy of the official job description for the position you’re seeking. In many cases your Human Resources department can provide you with this information. Review the description point-by-point and note how you match these requirements. If you’re vying for a management position, for example, describe instances in your current position where you successfully led projects or managed small teams. If the job requires extensive client interaction, mention previous experience working one-on-one with clients and point out the strong relationship you formed with them and their satisfaction with your work.

    Set Reasonable Expectations

    Do your homework before you ask for a promotion. If there are limited opportunities for advancement, the organization might prefer to promote someone who’s been with the company longer. Also, review industry standards regarding work experience and qualifications. For example, even if you’ve consistently gone above and beyond your job duties, your boss might not feel comfortable assigning you more responsibility if you graduated just a few months ago and the position you’re seeking typically requires several years of experience.

    Ask at the Right Time

    Don’t ask for a promotion on the spur of the moment. Instead, spend time planning your strategy and wait for the ideal moment to approach your boss. For example, you might have better luck asking during your annual review, when your boss is already thinking about your role at the company and noting what you’ve accomplished during the previous year. Or, your boss might be more open to discussing a promotion at the beginning of the fiscal year, especially if the promotion requires a raise. He might have just received a new budget and have more flexibility regarding how he spends the department’s money.

    About the Author

    Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001, working both as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

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