How to negotiate a promotion and secure more responsibility

Woman on a ladder searching

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more responsibility.

When hitting targets becomes the norm and your objectives are achieved with ease, it’s time to set your sights on a bigger challenge. However, it takes more to secure a promotion than success in your current role. If you want to climb up the career ladder, you’ll have to build the business case for your promotion and present it to your boss. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Remember, you’ve already sold your value successfully when you secured the job in the first place.

Negotiating a promotion shouldn’t be any more difficult if you have spent enough time in the role to make a difference and prove your worth – if anything, the lack of competition from candidates you don’t know, should make it easier.

Confidence is the key, but there’s a fine line between asserting your value and bragging to the boss. If you’re going to land that promotion, the following tips should put you on the right path.

Play the long game

A well-prepared pitch is critical to a successful promotion, but in truth, most of the negotiation takes place outside the meeting room.

As soon as you know what you want, you must allow yourself the time to demonstrate commitment to the company, and build a stellar reputation within the workplace.

It may sound like the employee equivalent of putting an apple on the teacher’s desk, but little acts such as staying late in busy times or helping others when your own work is done will go a long way in crafting your personal brand. If you’re well known for going above and beyond, you’ll give yourself a head start when the next round of promotions comes along.

Build your case

Your boss may recognise your input, but that doesn’t mean you can walk into their office with a smile and expect a new title. Regardless of how visible you’ve been, it’s still absolutely essential to prepare your pitch before requesting a meeting.

If you’ve been playing the long game, there’s a good chance you’ve been keeping note of every achievement. If not, take some time to draw up a list of empirical evidence of your value within your team and the company.

The best place to start is often with business objectives: how have you personally contributed towards the over-arching mission? Do you have figures to back up your facts? How have you made a difference within your role? The answers to these questions will form the bulk of your case.

Stop, listen, think

You’ve set up a meeting with one intention: to put yourself forward for a promotion. However, unless you’ve labelled the meeting “chat about me getting promoted” in the calendar invite, it’s unlikely your boss knows why you’re meeting (unless your long game really did involve apples on their desk.)

While being assertive will work in your favour, there’s no need to rush through your pitch. Instead, take the opportunity to find out more about the company’s objectives, and how you can assist in achieving them. That way, you can tailor your pitch to reflect the current challenges and business requirements.

Never give up

Rejections can be hard to take, especially when you feel you’ve done everything right. Instead of storming out of the meeting room, take this opportunity to ask your boss if there was anything you could have done differently, or any skills you need to improve on in order to secure more responsibility.

While you may not be moving up just yet, there could still be potential for you to move horizontally in the organisation. As well as gaining more experience, this will prevent you from stagnating in the same role with the same responsibilities to the point of resignation. Remember, a promotion isn’t a pipe dream, but it won’t be won overnight. Patience and persistence will pay off, if you are committed to rising through the ranks.

About the author

Kate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. In June 2018, Allen Associates launched their first London office, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.

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