How to Get Promoted – The Complete Guide to Moving Up

BU Logo
BetterUp Studios

7 min

A person working on a computer

It’s no secret that every employee who is passionate about their job would like a promotion. Common perks that come with a promotion often include a bigger salary, greater influence, and more autonomy or control over your tasks. However, most people also buy into the belief that a promotion is totally out of their hands; that either their boss will happen to see their efforts or they won’t.

The truth is that there is a lot you can do to get the promotion you believe you deserve. Getting a promotion can be broken down into two main steps: first adopting traits you need to get recognized, and then deciding how to approach your boss to ask for one.

Traits You Need to Have to Get Promoted

First, you need to cultivate certain behaviors in the workplace that will help you get noticed by your boss.

Here are four things you can do get recognized:

  1. Perform above average in your role. Simply put, if you’re not performing your tasks exceptionally well, a promotion just isn’t possible. You must do an incredible job in your current position in order to show your superiors that you are capable of performing well in a more important position.

  2. Develop strong relationships within your organization. For most bosses, the decision to promote someone also requires the input of others. Maintaining good relationships will encourage other colleagues to go to bat for your when it matters most, so always treat everyone with kindness and respect.

  3. Practice active listening and only speak when you have something important to say. Listening to others is key to learning how you can improve and developing good relationships. Many people also think that dominating every conversation is a leadership trait. Instead, be intentional when you speak so that you become known for only contributing valuable input.

  4. Focus on the bigger picture. Lastly, become involved beyond your designated role. Understand how your individual work fits into the organization as a whole, and try out new things, such as any seminars or clubs that might be offered. By going above and beyond what’s expected of you, others will eventually acknowledge your loyalty and commitment.

How to Ask For a Promotion

Once you’ve put these traits into practice, it is time to ask your boss for a promotion.

There are two primary steps to take when approaching them:

  • Don’t begin the conversation by demanding a promotion. Instead, ask them what it will take to get one. This will let your boss know that you want to get promoted in such a way that there is little pressure on them to make an immediate decision. You will also put your boss in the position of a guide or a mentor, and hopefully you can discuss a reasonable timeframe for a promotion.

  • Outline a case for why you think you should get promoted. If you’ve completed all of your boss’ suggestions and you think the time has come, set up a meeting with a boss and ask them if they think a promotion is reasonable. Write down and memorize a handful of key points that explain why you deserve it, such as specific projects or tasks that you went above and beyond to complete on time with stellar results.

When discussing or asking for a promotion, perhaps the most important thing is to believe that you are worthy of one. If you’ve done the work and put in the hours, approach your boss with confidence that you are the right person to be promoted.

BetterUp Studios
BetterUp Studios creates and curates research-backed content, activities, and tools to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

Recommended Resources

Card image cap

The Guide to Grit

Grit is the ability to keep on pushing when a situation gets tough. In this article, learn why grit is vital to success and how you can cultivate more of it.

10 min

Card image cap

Coaching Yourself with Positive Self-Talk

If you find that you’re your own harshest critic, then why not spend that same energy on becoming your own biggest cheerleader? In this exercise, harness the power of self-talk.

5 min