How to Ask For a Promotion and Actually Get It!


Securing a promotion is a goal that many life science professionals have to progress their career.  Whether it’s becoming a laboratory manager or lead scientist, getting promoted within your organization is a way to show your value. In order to get promoted, there are a few angles you must have covered.  You should understand the three pitfalls that prevent you from being promoted and five ways to position yourself for a promotion.  Lying this groundwork will help to ensure your success and avoid any miscommunication and possibly embarrassing situations.

It is vital to know that simply being at a company for a specific period of time such as two, three, five, or ten years does not warrant a promotion on its own.  Many people are entitled and think that just having steady employment or tenure is a reason to be promoted.

You must be able to show how you go above and beyond what is asked in your position, and that you’re capable of taking on new challenges.  If you are certain that you have earned a promotion, here are five steps to help you ask for a promotion and actually get it!  

Organize your contributions and accomplishments

Go back through all of your meeting records and emails for special projects.  Make note of any awards, honors, or pertinent acknowledgements you have received to demonstrate your track record of excellence.  It’s helpful to find details of key contributions that are quantifiable and show a measureable improvement.  An example might be if you developed a new database for testing samples that increased the productivity of lab technicians by 25%.  Or perhaps listing all notable scientific publications you’ve been a part of during your employment. 

Outline and script your compelling case

Now is the time to clarify your career goal.  Are you interested in having a title change only?  Or would you like a completely new role and a pay raise?  The contributions and accomplishments you’ve identified should support what you would like to achieve.  Create an outline or detailed script (depending on your preference) that reviews your current position, provides examples of how you have excelled, and how you think you can help the organization even more by being promoted.  It’s important to keep the conversation focused on how you can bring increased value to the company, not about what you feel you deserve.  

Request a meeting with your boss

Generally, it’s best to request a special meeting with your boss to discuss a promotion.  However, if you have frequent, monthly, or quarterly “check-in” conversations with your manager those could be appropriate times as well.  If possible, you want to avoid having a discussion about a promotion as part of an annual performance review.  Most companies have their own strict guidelines on what’s discussed during a performance review, and there is usually only enough time to follow a schedule.  You wouldn’t have the opportunity to present your background or compelling case for a promotion.

Show up prepared, confident, and professional

Practice beforehand with a friend or career support professional, which can be beneficial for feedback and an outside perspective.  Were they convinced that you have earned a promotion?  If not, then you can find more information to support your case or think about altering your career goal.  Have your outline or script printed up prior to the meeting with your boss.  You want to focus on being confident and touching on all of your key points, not being in a frazzled state trying to remember what you want to say next.  On the meeting day, dress slightly more formal than usual.  The adage of dressing for the position you want, not the one you have applies here.   

Make your compelling case


As you present your case on how you’ve gone above and beyond in your current role, it’s imperative to remember a few things.  You want to rely on facts as much as possible, and not sound overly emotional or too invested in the outcome of the conversation.  Your boss will probably not be able to make a decision during your meeting.  They might have to convey your request to their manager or director.  If you are too pushy on receiving a yes or no answer, you might force the response to be “No.”  Throughout the meeting, it’s important to remain positive and focused on the future, even if past negative situations or circumstances are discussed. 

There is a subtle art to asking for a promotion, and a lot of preparation is required on your part to increase the odds of success.  Organizing your contributions and accomplishments into a cohesive outline or script can help show the impact you’ve had in your role.  Requesting a private meeting with your manager and showing up as a confident professional are necessities.  Being able to deliver a compelling presentation on how you’ve produced superior results is the final skill you need to earn a promotion.

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals to add $10K on average to their salaries.


3 Pitfalls That Prevent You From Being Promoted (and How to Overcome Them):

5 Ways to Position Yourself for a Promotion:

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