Personal Growth

How to Ask for a Promotion – Think, Act, Respond

If you have never considered asking for a promotion or a raise, you absolutely should.

BUT to be effective, you need to be strategic. Don’t enter into the request blindly. There is a definite art to making requests, particularly when those requests include someone bestowing you with more power, or potentially narrowing their profit margin to thicken the lining of your pockets.

The THINK, ACT, RESPOND Career Conversation Formula is a good method to be guided by.

I Deserve It, Don’t I? I’m Worth It, Right? No One Else is Quite Like Me, Are They? They Would Be Lost Without Me, I Think? …and so begins the inner dialogue of self-doubt as you begin to consider the most awkward, yet necessary conversation of your career.

To avoid ineffective approaches, let’s quickly identify 2 of the most paralyzing DON’Ts when looking to expand your growth or advance your earning capacity.

  1. DON’T BE RANDOM: An employment-accelerating conversation of this magnitude requires thoughtful consideration. A joke in the lunch room about how invaluable you are, or random comments about your “vision” in staff meeting, undermines the importance of your poorly veiled message and indicates that the perception of your worth is not notable enough for a separately scheduled meeting.
  2. DON’T BE ANGRY: Requests for promotions or raises should NEVER be made out of anger. Believing that your “higher in command” is a lousy leader and you could do a better job, or realizing that you hate your job so much that only money will ease the pain, is not a good foundation for your promotional or financial sales pitch. A belief that management is incompetent, hostility around being a subordinate, or general dislike of the job are not among the reasons people get promotions or increased financial compensation. I hope this does not come as a surprise to you!

In contrast to the angry request outlined above, there are many good and workable reasons you can and should ask for a promotion. Some of these may include:

  • Your role or income has not been assessed in awhile.
  • You have taken on more responsibility.
  • Your role has shifted.
  • You bring a unique skill set to your workplace.
  • You know your skill set would be better utilized in an advanced role.
  • You have acquired more skills or knowledge that directly benefits your employer.
  • And so on.

These, not anger, are the reasons that should motivate any request related to career growth.


THINK like a winner and KNOW how you would finish the following sentences. Change each ineffective first sentence to express the convincing reason you are valuable to your organization.

  • I deserve it, PERIOD. (I deserve this because…)
  • I’m worth it, PERIOD. (The value I bring to this organization is…
  • No one else is quite like me, PERIOD. (What I bring to this to this role that is unique is…)
  • They would be lost without me, PERIOD. (I am invaluable because…)

Be able to define your current role and what it is about this role or your new role that warrants a position advancement or greater earnings.

ACT like you know what you’re doing.

  • Request a meeting with the right person. The right person is the person who can directly make your request happen, or the person who has a direct link to the person who can make the magic happen.
  • Follow established management structure and be cautious not to step on toes. You can always make your way higher up if need be, but rarely can you undo the damage you can create by starting too high and having to backtrack.
  • When in the meeting, be direct about why you have requested the meeting. For example, at the onset you might say, “I asked to connect with you today because I want to request and explore getting a raise and/or promotion.”
  • Use your completed statements from the THINK section to formulate the basis for your request. Then conclude by stating what you would like, and ask for it specifically. “Based on what I have told you about myself and my commitment to the organization, I would like to have the opportunity to fill the Regional Sales Manager role.”
  • Avoid comparing your income to your peers or making your request based on your subjective assessment that you have more to offer than a counterpart. (Even if this is true, don’t do it.) You will succeed best by marketing your own pluses, not listing others’ minuses.

RESPOND and Request Clarification

  • If your request results in a YES, be sure you understand what the yes includes. Is it a conditional yes based on further approval? What are the expected timelines before you can anticipate your role or income shifting? How will this be announced or organized? What, if anything, are you permitted to share with others regarding the results of the decision?
  • If your request results in a NO, accept the no respectfully.
  • Do not make any decisions in haste following a NO (e.g., don’t quit your job).
  • Don’t just let the dream die; ask for clarification. Request clarification for what would need to change or be different for your request to be considered further or to come to fruition.
  • If the response indicates that there is no additional potential for advancement or career growth regardless of your efforts, take time to consider if your current role or income is liveable for you.

Final Thoughts

When you THINK about what you want and what you have to offer, when you are detailed in how you ACT, and respectful and thoughtful in how you RESPOND, career doors open and advancements happen.

Now, Go Get that RAISE!

For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our resources page


Sheri Coburn

Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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