How Not To Pitch A Promotion

A single mistake can derail years of working toward a promotion. Take note of what to avoid when asking for a promotion to help ensure a smooth process.

Professional man pitching a promotion to his boss.

You’ve worked hard for your company. You’ve put in long hours, stuck it out over the course of years, and have completed every assignment on time. You’re sure that you’re deserving of a promotion. 
Of course, asking for a promotion is one of the most sensitive things you can do at work -- and it can easily go wrong. There are tactful ways as well as self-defeating ways to do it. Here are missteps to avoid when pitching a promotion. 
Don’t make it about what you deserve 
Yes, a promotion is about you. But there’s a difference between seeming entitled, and showing how an enhanced role for you can benefit the company. If you find yourself making a lot of “I” statements, you’ve already made it too much about you. Instead, bridge from the past to the future. Focus on how you can build on your skills in the new position to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your department. 
Don’t ask over email 
You can set up a time to meet with your boss over email, but never ask for a promotion over email. That makes it seem more like a demand than a conversation or a negotiation. It’s also much easier to be turned down flat over email. Instead, carve out dedicated time to have an in-person conversation with your manager. 
Don’t fail to anticipate follow-up questions 
You should prep for a promotion pitch in the same way you approach a job interview: Expect lots of questions. Be prepared. Bring your resume, research appropriate salaries, or even get references from others. Show that you anticipate the challenges of a new role, and you’re prepared to meet them head on. 
Don’t neglect to follow up 
Asking for a promotion is rarely a straight-forward, one-time request. They take time. While you wait patiently, you should also follow up for updates to make sure the issue is top of mind for your manager.  
Don’t give up 
If the answer turns out to be “no,” there are several possible reasons why you didn’t get a promotion this time. It could be the timing, the lack of room for growth in the company, or your experience and skills truly weren’t right for a promotion. If you get turned down, use this as a learning opportunity for the next time. Instead of being defensive, request a meeting with your manager and take notes on what can be done differently in the future to help you gain that promotion. Consider the first times you ask for a promotion not as the end -- but just the start. 
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