Business Magazine

How to Ask for a Promotion

By Michelle Merritt @michellemerritt

lean inSo you’ve decided 2014 is the year you’re going to ask for what you want.  Congratulations!  If the universe wasn’t tough enough, the first test comes when the promotion you’ve been hoping for comes right away and your resolution is put to the test.  Do not fear.  Here are a few simple things to keep in mind when asking for a promotion.

Be Prepared

Before you go in and ask for the job do your research.  What does the position require?  How do you match those requirements?  What have your accomplishments been that prove you’re worthy of the promotion? What are you good at that will benefit this position and make the supervisors life easier?  Make the old fashion T bar list on a legal pad and be honest, not humble, about what you can bring to the table.

Tenure doesn’t matter

You don’t deserve a promotion just because you’ve hung in there the longest of any of your peers.  That doesn’t make you qualified.  The reverse is also true.  Just because you haven’t been in a position very long doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for something you could do well.

Update your resume

This is why your resume should always be up to date even when you’re not looking for a job.  Even your direct supervisor will get so busy (s)he will forget you’ve accomplished certain things.  Having a current resume to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished in your past positions as well as your current one will be the supporting documentation you need to show you’re qualified.  It’s never the responsibility of the hiring manager or supervisor to know what you’ve accomplished, it’s your responsibility to tell them.

Ask for the job.

The hiring manager or your direct supervisor may not know that you’re interested in the position so you have to speak up.  NEVER assume (s)he will know you are looking to move up.  Take the chance and apply for the position.  Perhaps you’re in a smaller company that doesn’t require a formal application process.  If so, you’ll need to speak to the hiring manager directly and share your interest.  The better prepared you are the easier the conversation will go.

Don’t wait to be 100% (or even 50%) qualified before you ask for the promotion.

As Sheryl Sandberg points out in Lean In, most men will apply for a promotion they think they can do even if they’re not qualified.  Women will wait until they’re 100% qualified and still question if they’re the right fit.  DON’T WAIT! If you think you’re good at something, go for it.  If you think you have the potential to be good at something, go for it.  For crying out loud, LEAN IN ALREADY!

If you don’t get the promotion find out where you need to improve.

One of my favorite employees was furious with me when she didn’t get a promotion.  She had the courage to ask how she could improve and demonstrated tremendous professionalism as she took my rather direct development suggestions to heart.  She implemented many of them and while she didn’t get the next position she applied for her opportunity came because she demonstrated the willingness to develop the areas that needed improving.  She wouldn’t have had that chance if she hadn’t had the courage to ask and more importantly to LISTEN.  Applying for a promotion wont guarantee you get the position but it will guarantee you the opportunity to develop your interview skills and learn where you need to improve.

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