Quick! What are you worth to your company? If you hesitated before answering, you are not alone. Most people are uncertain about their actual value in the corporate structure of a company. In fact, after initially accepting a job, people tend to use their starting salary as a guide. While this might be helpful, if you accepted the job at a lower-than-market-rate salary, you will be starting promotion/salary negotiations at a disadvantage.
Before you ask for a promotion, you should consider the following:
• Find out the salary range for the promotion you want. Obviously, you are not going to get this information from your company. Consult online salary surveys, and speak with other people in similar positions (if they are willing to share their information). Once you have at least a ballpark figure, you have a starting place.
• Research the position for which you want to be considered. Check your company’s website for job descriptions, research competitors’ job descriptions and speak with people who have done the job.
• Be sure you are performing your current job at your optimal level. That means you need to be able to show you go above and beyond at your job. Be willing to take on additional projects and look for leadership opportunities.
Some companies only consider promotions during annual performance reviews. These are often dependent upon the organization’s fiscal year (which may or may not be in sync with the regular calendar).
If you are hoping to ask for a promotion before your yearly performance review, be prepared to face some pushback. This does not mean that you should give up; rather, it just means you have to be a bit more creative in your approach.
Experts suggest having a roadmap before you approach your boss to request a promotion. Most agree that the following are important steps:
• Keep an ongoing record of your accomplishments. Be sure your manager is aware of your hard work and what you contribute to the team. This does not mean you should brag or oversell yourself; that could backfire.
• Increase your knowledge base. Continue to add to your wheelhouse of skills by learning all you can. Enroll in some evening courses, ask about continuing education opportunities provided by your company — these efforts will increase your value to your employer.
• Take your annual performance reviews seriously. Be sure to ask questions of your manager, including ways you can improve and grow within the company.
• Look for opportunities to communicate with your managers about your career goals and aspirations. If they do not know your plans, they cannot help you achieve them.
Some companies offer employees the opportunity to do a “self-review” as part of the evaluation process. This, no doubt, can be an uncomfortable task: Most people are not accustomed to citing their own accomplishments, or facing their own shortcomings. This is an important task because it forces the employee to be honest about his/her career.
Career counselors and hiring managers recommend that employees who are looking to grow find a mentor. This can be as simple as meeting with someone in your company over lunch to discuss a path forward. This person should be someone who can help you grow your career. Or, a mentor might be someone out of your company whose career has followed a similar path to you the one you are seeking.
OK, so what if you’ve done everything suggested here and you still do not get that promotion? What’s next? There are myriad reasons that you did not get the promotion. Perhaps there was someone more seniority. Maybe the job in which you are interested is not available. Or maybe your manager simply does not feel you are qualified for the position. If that is the case, ask for a follow-up review prior to your next yearly evaluation. Ask your manager what you can do to improve your chances of getting that promotion.