Today’s society can be confusing. You’re supposed to speak up for yourself and aim high, but you’re not supposed to be arrogant or presumptuous. This paradox can make it difficult to do something as basic as asking for a promotion or raise.

There’s a fine line you have to be careful not to cross when you request a promotion in your job. But as long as you don’t cross that line and come across as demanding, you have every right to ask for what you want.

If asking for a promotion is the only way to take the next step in your career, then it’s time to get yourself mentally prepared.

Don’t go into the conversation without a plan. Instead, follow these seven tips to ensure that you are ready for whatever happens.

Let’s discuss how to prepare yourself to ask for a promotion at work.

1. Timing is Everything

When you ask for a promotion, you have to know what to say. But you also have to know when to ask. By asking your boss at a good time, you’ll increase your chances of success.

If you walk in and your boss is obviously having a bad day, turn around and abort the mission, even if you have an appointment. Politely suggest rescheduling.

Also, don’t ask during a busy time. If you work in retail, the holidays probably aren’t the best time to inquire about a promotion.

And don’t ask during a time when the company is going through financial trouble, either. If your boss has just laid off a dozen people, they’re not going to be very receptive to your request for a raise.

There’s never going to be a perfect time, so don’t wait too long. But there are certainly some times that are better than others, so be strategic about it.

2. Research the Position

It’s easy to want something “better” until you know exactly what “better” involves.

That new promotion you want could come with perks and benefits. But it might require you sacrificing something you don’t want to give up, like your free time.

It could also require skills that you don’t have. So before you ask for a promotion, you should make sure that you’re equipped to handle the job.

Go beyond the superficial job description and find out the down and dirty. Someone somewhere has had that position and knows the truth behind it. Read Glassdoor reviews if you have to, but get the facts, both good and bad.

Once you know everything required to perform the job, make sure that you have what it takes.

Are you truly ready to handle the responsibilities of this new job?

3. Prove Your Worth

You’ve researched the coveted job, you’ve spoken with prior occupants of the position, and you know what it requires. Now, you must demonstrate that you can handle the responsibilities.

Find ways to volunteer at work that allow you to improve your skills. Make your efforts visible to your boss and anyone else that might have a say in whether you are promoted.

This may require some extra effort on your part. You might have to work late for a few weeks. But if your boss sees that you’re putting in extra time and building your skill set, they’ll be more likely to promote you.

However, you should also keep in mind that working overtime doesn’t automatically translate to a new position.

The last thing you should ever do is tell your boss that you deserve the position because you spent all that time proving yourself. You did that to enhance your skills, and whether you get the promotion or not, it was time well spent.

4. Keep a Record of Your Best Achievements

We’re often taught to downplay our achievements. After all, no one wants to come across as a show-off.

But in the professional world, you have to be able to sell yourself respectfully. 

Your boss probably isn’t aware of every single thing you’ve achieved in your career. And they’re probably not aware of your full potential, either. They are busy juggling their own responsibilities.

So, don’t expect them to know about all of your accomplishments. It’s your job to point them out … carefully.

The best way to show off your hard and soft skills is to keep a log of your achievements. This is a fact-based record, so it won’t come off as arrogant.

Try to get written reviews from satisfied customers to add to your log. Keep track of sales numbers and other quantifiable data that prove your value.

Numbers sell, so be specific. “Top three in sales for the month” doesn’t have the same impact as “Generated $32,000 more revenue than the average salesperson on my team for March of 2019.”

5. Determine Your Strategy

There are a few ways you can approach your boss about a promotion.

Here are some ideas:

The Subtle and Patient Approach

Most career coaches recommended this approach. It involves preparing for the position you want and dropping hints to those involved in that department.

Let the idea blossom in your boss’s mind and look for ideal opportunities to prove yourself.

The Assertive and Confident Approach

This approach works if you’ve done the legwork and you’re positive that you’re ready for a new role. It involves meeting with your boss and telling them outright that you’re looking to move up in the company.

This approach works in some cases. But, you must be prepared for rejection.

The Ultimatum Approach

You could go out and secure another job offer before you ask your boss. Then, you can use your offer as leverage to negotiate a promotion or raise.

Be very careful about using this tactic.

Your boss might give you the new position out of a fear of losing you. But when they regroup, there could be negative consequences. People, by nature, don’t like ultimatums.

6. Plan for the Conversation

The more you prepare, the more confidence you will have. 

Research some common interview questions. Can you answer anything that might be thrown at you? Are you able to explain why you are the best candidate for the position?

Take the conversation down a few potential paths. Know exactly what you are going to ask for and what you will settle for if a compromise is on the table.

7. Straighten Your Spine and Ask

Once you’re as ready as you’re going to be, it’s time to move forward.

Schedule a meeting for a time when you can speak without interruption.

On the day of the meeting, dress for the position you want, not the one you have. You can start doing this sooner so it’s not as obvious, but it’s a must-do for your meeting.

Go in with confidence but not arrogance. Keep your back straight, your head up, and your smile wide. It’s time to ask for what you’re worth!


You are the only person responsible for your professional growth. When it’s time to take the next step in your career, you have to put your big-person pants on.

Step into them and get ready to ask for a promotion. You’ve got this!

Author bio:

Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Jefferson Platinum Triangle. She takes great pride in providing superior service and establishing relationships between Jefferson Platinum Triangle and local businesses.