Excited businessman shaking hands with someone after being given a promotion.
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When and how to ask for your next promotion

30 May 2018

Most of us want to progress in our career but aren’t sure how to do it. Hays’ Maureen Lynch is here to help you ask for your next promotion.

You will rarely find a professional who will voluntarily admit to being overpaid for the work they do. Most of us feel overworked, underpaid and undervalued by our employers – often, we are correct.

According to the Hays Ireland 2018 Salary and Recruitment Trends Guide, 58pc of employees are not satisfied with their salaries. Despite this, only 40pc asked for a raise last year – and the majority of them got it (57.5pc).

This suggests that people may be overly hesitant or not know when the best time to ask for a raise or promotion is.

There typically isn’t a set timeframe for career progression. After all, promotions should be linked to performance, not length of tenure. Employees need to honestly assess whether they’re ready for a promotion.

Before you begin …

If you’ve only been in your role for a year, there may be areas of your current position that you’ve yet to master.

Revisit your job description and check that you’re fully competent in each area. This is an ideal time to reflect on any feedback your boss has given you in your annual review and any other regular check-ins.

Next, you need to ask yourself if you’re mentally prepared. If you only joined a year ago, you might not be ready for more change.

Settling into a new environment can take up to six months, and sometimes longer. If you’re looking for a raise, you should consider the extra responsibility, the changes in work routine and the people you’ll need to interact with on a daily basis, such as more senior stakeholders.

At this point, you may feel out of your depth and still be getting to grips with the new role. This is fine – you might simply need more time to find your feet.

On the other hand, you may be up to the challenge because you feel that you aren’t being pushed to your full potential. If so, you’ll need to get ready to ask for what you want.

Talking to your boss

There’s more to getting a promotion than simply feeling ready for one – you’ll need to convince your boss, too. Hopefully, you’ve built up a good relationship with them, one in which you feel comfortable sharing your future career ambitions and aspirations. It’s imperative that you meet with your boss one-on-one to clearly communicate your ambitions.

To avoid having your manager think you’re presumptuous, entitled or disengaged, you’ll have to be both tactful and professional in this meeting.

Instead of requesting a new role, you should state that you have fully enjoyed getting to grips with your job and now feel ready for the next challenge. You’ll need to give reasons for the promotion and ask your boss for their thoughts and feedback.

Hopefully, you’ll receive your raise after expressing your reasons for it. However, if you’re met with a ‘no’, don’t lose heart.

Last year, the Hays salary and recruitment trends report showed that 42.5pc employees that asked for a raise didn’t get one. This is an opportunity for you to further self-improve and understand exactly why you weren’t successful this time around.

Understand the system

Each organisation should have a clear career progression policy in place that outlines what you need to achieve to be considered promotion-ready. Bosses will likely identify skills gaps that you need to overcome in order to qualify for a promotion.

Stretch opportunities – tasks that push you beyond your normal limits – are a good way to develop these skills on the job, so put yourself forward whenever you can.

Coming out of these meetings, you should set some timeframes and a date to review your progress, and keep your boss looped in with your development in the meantime. Ideally, you’ll walk out of this discussion feeling motivated and ready for the next step.

Don’t forget to record your progress. When working towards goals, track them and any other measurable results. You should have regular one-on-ones with your boss to relay this information, asking for their support or feedback where necessary.

A mentor can also be of great value when trying to reach that next career level. This should be somebody other than your boss, someone credible and senior within your company.

When you’re ready for it, asking for a raise typically leads to a positive outcome – even if it’s simply a learning opportunity.

However, remember that a promotion is based on merit, not tenure. By matching your ambition with a realistic view of what you need to achieve, you’ll set yourself up with a stronger chance of reaching your career aspirations.

By Maureen Lynch

Maureen Lynch is a director at Hays Ireland.

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