Asking for a Promotion – How to Prep, Plan, and Make it Happen

By Jen Oleniczak Brown

Over a year into the pandemic, and the world is still reeling. That being said, most companies and organizations have “figured out” how to move forward – if that is digital, remote, at home – whatever the pivot is and was is already in play.

Now that we have that established, maybe you’ve realized that you were up for a promotion or raise during the unstable past year – and now you’re overdue. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s normal promotion anxiety, maybe it’s insecurity about asking for what you’re worth – it’s important to remember that you ARE worth it, and if you’re looking to ask for a promotion, you should take some time to work on the ask versus awkwardly jumping on a point or a comment in a fly-by meeting.

I was working with a client a few years ago and she talked about how she hadn’t had a raise in over two years – and was incredibly upset about it. We used the following framework to make it happen – and at the risk of issuing a spoiler alert – it worked.


Do not go into a promotion ask cold: I cannot say this enough. When you are going into high stress or medium stress or any stress communication moment, you need to do some prep. Think about running: you’re not going to just get up and run 13 miles. You’re going to prepare yourself. The same thing is true with communication.

If you are interested in asking for a promotion, start your prep by asking yourself why you want a promotion. Maybe it’s to get paid more because you’ve been doing more work or been there a long time – dig into the why. Once you get a bit of a list, now look at why you should get a promotion. This might be different – as much as possible, think about the accomplishments you’ve achieved over the time you’ve been employed there – and accomplishments are specific decisions you’ve made in the moment of a challenge. The decision is made because of the skills you possess, and the outcome is generally in your favor or the favor of your company. This is important information – put yourself in the decision maker’s shoes – why should you get a raise or promotion? Keep it as specific and concise as possible.

A quick note – this isn’t the time for imposter syndrome – you want a promotion? Base it on factual things that you did or contributed to, as well as your actual work. No one is saying you’re the “best worker that ever worked” – you’re just asking for something closer to your worth.


Don’t do this on a whim – ask for time and use all that great prep to plan for a time to ask. By setting up a time to talk to the decision-maker, you’re asking for a respectful audience and amount of time to truly discuss and present this information to another person. This is important especially if you’ve done your prep work – by noting those accomplishments and reasons (both why you want and why you should) you’ve given yourself talking points. These talking points give you foundational things to discuss when you do have the planned meeting – which makes everything easier because you’re not thinking of things on the fly!

Make it happen

It’s time – you just have to ask. Hoping that someone will just make it happen for you is passive aggressive (and a whole other article this month!). Essentially, it’s time to do it now, or forever wish you had.

Back to my client? We prepped – she practiced asking, she made a list of her accomplishments, made an appointment – everything you could imagine. She went in to ask – and – her boss said yes. And then – “We didn’t know you wanted a promotion. Glad you asked!” What if she had never asked?

Glad we don’t know. Good luck!


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