How to Ask for a Promotion

Three perspectives on what to consider before taking any action
Natalie LaFranzo, Director, Marketing Communications, Personalis, Inc.
Natalie LaFranzo, Director, Marketing Communications, Personalis, Inc.

In an established organization, there may be clear delineation around the specific skills, experience, and expectations of performance for each job “level” in an organization. Your human resources department should have access to this information, which can help frame your request. If this is not available, you might consider building out something similar for your current role and your desired role; this can be used to guide the conversation with your line manager around career progression. Prepare a summary which highlights your contributions to the organization using quantitative, impact-driven language to demonstrate your value. Ideally, you and your manager are having regular conversations around goal setting and performance. This conversation can be integrated into your annual or quarterly discussion, or you can request a separate meeting once you have these supporting materials prepared. 


Adam Myers, Senior Project Manager of Research Development & Innovation, Evonik
Adam Myers, Senior Project Manager of Research Development & Innovation, Evonik

Rather than just asking for a promotion, you should ask what the expectations are for the position that you want. Once you have the data, map how your accomplishments meet those. Also, be sure to identify any gaps (be honest, you have them). If you’re close to that role, talk with your supervisor about how to prepare yourself to handle the next role (training or stretch opportunities), and make a plan.


Heinz Plaumann, Co-Founder, QuantumQik Careers
Heinz Plaumann, Co-Founder, QuantumQik Careers

It is essential to have a few years’ track record of exemplary performance (i.e. your reputation), and when you notice or learn from your network that peers are being promoted, the timing is appropriate.  To get there, first ask the leadership (manager, boss, or even colleagues) how must I change my performance and scope of my responsibility to achieve this promotion? That initiates the discussion. Then drive for an action plan with timing – but remember they are not promises!


This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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