How to get a promotion at work
Published on February 03, 2021
Can you ask for a job promotion during a pandemic?
Almost a year since the pandemic broke and we are still navigating our careers, the most notable adjustment being moving from our usual work spaces to home offices. We adjusted to health protocols and found ways to sustain our livelihood. While millions of people lost their jobs, it is equally true that there are some who flourished in their careers, including frontliners and people working in industries that help us survive, cope, and even thrive in our new normal.
If you’re like most home-based employees who have been burning the midnight oil and working extra hard these past few months, you may be feeling you deserve a promotion, or that you’re ready for the next level. But how do you ask your boss for one when the company might still be reeling from the effects of the pandemic?
Getting a job promotion during a pandemic may be tricky, but it is possible. Remember, though, that with the new title comes greater responsibility.
Read on for tips on how to get a promotion.
Scenario #1: Not quite there, but want to get there
You may have been thinking about career advancement, but you know in your heart you still have a way to go. This is a great position to be in, because you can work towards getting that job promotion.
What you can do right now is express to your manager that you want to be promoted in the next few months. A discussion of your strengths and areas for improvement would help, and your manager can draw up a career progression plan to get you where you want to go.
In the meantime, you can make yourself more valuable to your team and your company.
5 things you can do to make yourself promotion-worthy
Research on the role you want to apply for. Will you apply for a team lead or supervisory role? Do you want to get promoted to a different team or department? Knowing what the role entails will help you mentally prepare for the promotion.
You may be performing your tasks exceptionally, but getting a promotion will mean new responsibilities. Start practicing by taking on tasks adjacent to yours. For example, have you been doing mostly inbound calls? You can volunteer to do telemarketing. If you’re a writer who’s been doing mostly ad copy, how about taking on community management or SEO responsibilities? Take a look around you and see where you can bring value while learning new skills that will make you more valuable.
With a clear goal and a specific target position in mind, evaluate yourself honestly and determine what skills you need to get to the next level in your career. Get equipped for the role that you are aspiring for by taking webinars and trainings, and even shadowing someone with those skills. Ask a higher-up to be your mentor.
4. Make yourself seen.
Show that you are ready for the role by volunteering for advanced tasks. Suggest improvements. Take on additional assignments. Champion your product. Step up and be more visible. This way, you can be top of mind when a new role opens up.
5. Learn people management.
This is a skill that will become more critical as you go up the corporate ladder. While before you only had to think about yourself—show up, do your job, log off—having a team would mean you’d have other people depending on you. Their performance (or lack of it), their development, and their job happiness will rest heavily on you. If you haven’t handled people yet, volunteer to take a trainee, an intern or even the company newbie under your wing. It will give you much needed practice, and also show company decision makers that you may be ready for a bigger role.
Scenario #2: Ready for the next level
You know it. You feel it. You sincerely believe you deserve that promotion. Now you can march up right to your boss and ask for it, yes? No. You can’t expect your manager to hand it to you just because you want it! You’ll have to prove you deserve it. And this is where we back up and build our case.
Self-assessment: Have you done enough? Are you 100% ready?
This is an essential step that will help strengthen your resolve to go get that promotion. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. What have you done in the past year that warrants a promotion? List down all your achievements and accomplishments at work.
2. What challenges have you encountered at work recently and how did you overcome them?
3. What new skills have you learned in the past year? How did you earn them? Cite specific examples if you learned them on the job.
4. If you have been an independent contributor until now, you need to ask yourself: Are you ready to lead a team? Are you ready to take responsibility for other people’s actions and to develop their careers?
5. Why do you want to apply for a job promotion—is it the job title, increased compensation and benefits, or the responsibilities that come with the new role? Which aspect of the job promotion matters to you the most?
Once that’s done, the next step is to determine if your company is in a position to give you one. Some guide questions:
1. Is your company doing well?
2. Have they laid off people, implemented pay cuts and cancelled bonuses since the pandemic happened?
3. Is your company actively hiring? If yes, is the position you want available for internal and external hires?
When the going gets tough, it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. It’s possible that you are ready for the role but the company cannot afford to pay you yet. Can you temporarily forego the salary increase in exchange for increased career opportunities? Ask yourself what matters most to you about this promotion. Knowing your non-negotiables (e.g., higher compensation, better benefits, job title) will help you achieve your goals while matching what your company needs.
You will have a sense if the timing is right to ask for a promotion. If your company is doing its best to stay afloat and has temporarily frozen hiring and internal promotions, it might be best to wait a while. If this is the case, go back up to Scenario #1 and take this time to help the company survive (and even thrive) while equipping yourself with new skills.
If your company - and the industry it belongs to - is flourishing, chances are new roles have opened up and this might be a great time to take on an advanced role. Go ahead and schedule a one-on-one with your manager and state your case. There is no harm in trying; in fact, it might even pay off. Good luck!