Working Toward That Big Promotion Is Easier Than You Think, According To A Career Expert

Sometimes, asking for a promotion can feel super awkward, but when you know you deserve one, it's worth putting yourself out there. Best case, you get the position; worst case, they turn you down, so what's the problem with trying? It's normal to ask for a promotion once every three to five years. Not only does getting a promotion determine how you feel about your company, but it's also a reflection of how the higher-ups feel about you as well. If you aren't moving up the ladder every few years, it's time to reevaluate how you benefit the company.


If you've taken a look at your past work and noticed you've consistently met deadlines, taken initiative, and exceeded expectations, it's time to ask for that promotion. Maybe you're unsure of how to go about doing so, but don't worry, it's a lot less intimidating than you might think. To give you the push you need, Matthew Warzel, president of MJW Careers, outlines exactly how to work toward the promotion or raise you want.

Know the best time to ask

One of the first things you need to consider when you're asking for a raise or a promotion is when you're going to do it. According to Matthew Warzel, the best time to ask for a promotion is following a major success for your company or department, like completing a lengthy project, obtaining a new client, or increasing sales — basically, any time you're on your boss' good side. It's the same thing as when you were a kid and asked your parents for a raise in your allowance. When they're happy, you have a better chance of getting what you want.


It may sound devious, taking advantage of your boss' happiness, but we say there's no harm in seizing the opportunity. You're more likely to come out of your meeting with a smile on your face and a promotion or more salary in your pocket. The fact is, you did something worth celebrating, so now you have another success under your belt, which you can bring up during your pitch. This brings us to Warzel's next tip...

Make sure you're 100% prepared

Matthew Warzel says being prepared is one of the keys to getting the promotion you want. If you go into your meeting unsure of what to say, you're not proving to your boss that you're serious about moving up. Not to mention, it's super embarrassing when you're tripping over your words or unsure of answers to questions they may ask (trust us, they're going to ask questions). Potentially, employers will likely ask why you want the position, why you think you deserve it, and more of the like.


You don't need to go all out with a PowerPoint presentation, but having a list of bullet points on hand is never a bad idea. If you choose to go that route, make sure you've practiced your pitch ahead of time so you aren't staring at the paper the entire time. That can also make you look bad in front of your boss.

Understand a raise may not be in the budget

Your boss may be totally game for offering you a promotion, but sometimes, increasing your salary isn't in the budget at that moment in time. This is especially true during our current financial environment. Employees should have a 3% increase in salary each year, but that all depends on inflation and how well you've been doing in your position. If your company is unable to offer a raise due to a lack of funds, Matthew Warzel recommends checking in four to six months later to see if anything has changed.


If your company still doesn't have the funds to support your request for a raise at that point in time, you can always ask again down the line. It might feel like you're begging for more money or a higher-paying position, but we disagree. It's not begging — it's going after what you deserve (remember, your boss can't fire you for asking for more money).

Be prepared for rejection

Say you've prepared your pitch a dozen times, and you think the meeting went really well, but then ... your boss rejects your request. Perhaps, they aren't satisfied with your work or believe you aren't really applying yourself. If they don't explain their reasoning, make sure you ask for it, but it's likely they will. Instead of pouting and feeling sorry for yourself, Matthew Warzel suggests using this rejection as motivation to work harder. As the saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You can only go up from there.


If your boss gave you specific reasons for their decision, this is the time to step it up in those areas. Like we said earlier, the higher-ups of your company can't fire you for asking for a promotion or raise, but they can if you continue slacking off. Use their feedback to apply yourself to prevent putting yourself in this position. Once you've shown your boss your work ethic has improved, you're more likely to get what you're asking for.

Never give your boss an ultimatum

Should your boss reject your request, Matthew Warzel warns against giving them an ultimatum, or saying you have a better offer somewhere else. Not only will they deny your request for a promotion, but they may end up dismissing you from the company altogether. By threatening your boss with an ultimatum that states you're leaving the company if they don't increase your salary or give you the promotion, they're more likely to tell you to hit the road. The same goes for bringing up a better job offer at another company.


If you give them an ultimatum or bring the new offer to their attention, they'll most likely ask you, if the offer is so great, why would you stay at your current position? It gives the assumption you're going to get up and quit tomorrow, so why would they give you the promotion? The point is, you're setting yourself up for failure.