This question originally appeared on Quora: What is the best, most professional way to ask for a promotion at work? Answer by Miranda Marcus, applications engineer at EWI, specializing in plastic joining.
Some companies have written out the promotion path for multiple types of positions, and include what the job requirements are for each level. Even if it is not so explicit, you can generally get an understanding of what is expected at each job level by observation.
Make sure that your boss knows what your goals are as soon as you develop them. If you want to get a promotion, start preparing them way early. Make a meeting with your boss and let them know that you would like to grow professionally within the company. Ask them what steps they would recommend you take to achieve a promotion.
Once you know what is expected in order to achieve a promotion and you have primed your boss to know you are aiming for one, document your achievements. If your boss says that they would consider a promotion based on certain performance metrics, then make sure you hit those and document them.
You understand the requirements, you have primed your boss, you have documented your progress—now you just have to ask. Schedule a meeting with your boss and present your case. Show that you have met each of the requirements. The best case is they will promote you, the worst case is they will give you specific feedback on what else is required that you may have initially missed. If the latter occurs, it is not over, just focus on achieving that next milestone.
If your company is arranged so that you can only get a promotion if a position is vacated or if a new group is created, then you may need to wait longer, but the steps are the same. Position yourself to be the one they think of as the motivated employee who can take the responsibility. You can even present a business case for the creation of a group that you want to manage, and essentially create your own promotion.
Always be thinking about what kind of employee would hold the position you want, then be that employee.
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