As a hard-working professional, it’s natural to want your career to develop. You’ve secured your new job and have settled in well, but what next? Many people have the goal of being promoted as it gives you further influence within your business, allows you to have greater control over your daily tasks and offers the opportunity to earn more money.
You can either look externally for a new job which will offer this sort of progression, or you can pursue an internal promotion. This article focuses on the latter.
But how do you get promoted internally? You have to do more than just logging your hours everyday if you want to take a step up on the career progression ladder. Organisations don’t hand out promotions - you need to earn it. You have to actively show, and even tell, your boss that you’re prepared for more responsibilities and ready for that next step.
Here we break down a few important considerations which will help you get promoted and rise one step closer towards the top of your organisation.
- Proactively pursuing an internal promotion
- How to ask your boss for a promotion
- Creating a ‘resume of accomplishments’
- How can you prepare for a promotion interview?
- What to expect: Internal promotion interview questions and answers
- How to follow up after an internal promotion interview
1. Steps you should take to move towards a promotion
It is highly unlikely that you will just be promoted out of the blue. You need to be proactive and show that you deserve it. By proactively pursuing a promotion, you drastically increase your chances.
There are 8 key things to consider when you’re thinking about putting yourself forward for an internal promotion:
1. Do you own entire projects? If you’re able to prove that you can take control of projects from conception right through to completion, you’re much more indispensable and more likely to be considered for a promotion.
2. Do you raise the performance of your colleagues? Showing that you help colleagues and boost the performance of an entire team rather than just caring about your personal performance is something leaders and management frequently look out for when considering eligible promotion candidates.
3. Are you benefiting the company? In many instances this will be around making money. And even if your role isn’t directly related to generating income, all other performance metrics can be translated into money-making - even if that’s saving money!
4. Do you spread positivity and keep your cool? Keeping your cool when you’re stressed displays leadership mentality. Remain calm when an issue arises and work to solve it, learning from mistakes along the way. If your attitude rubs off onto colleagues, that’s a big plus.
5. Are you committed and do you take pride in your work? Employees who take their work personally, take pride in doing it well and are committed to developing their roles are often the ones who are trusted with more responsibilities by employers.
6. Do you make your boss’ job easier? One of the most effective ways of getting promoted is by earning the trust of your manager when it comes to your abilities at work. If you can reliably complete some of their tasks, allowing them to focus on other areas, you’re more likely to get noticed and they’ll be more likely to support your case.
7. Are you an exceptional asset? For many employers it’s important that their clients and other employees see the justification for your promotion. Ultimately, if you make a positive impact on clients and/or colleagues, you’re more likely to receive an internal promotion.
8. Have you made your boss aware that you want to get promoted? Expressing your desire for a particular promotion is very important. It can be as simple as that! Not only will you plant the seed in their mind, but they will often give you some guidance on what you need to do to get that promotion - managers love seeing their team members progress!
Every organisation is different and each role requirements will vary, but these key 8 aspects are generally what management will be looking for in a person who approaches them about a promotion.
2. How to ask your boss or manager for a promotion
As previously mentioned, if you believe you are worthy of a promotion or would like to earn one further down the road, it helps if you are proactive and ask your boss. This can seem like a cheeky move and, depending on the type of person you are, can be incredibly nerve-racking. You’re essentially putting yourself forward to be judged and there’s a chance that you may be judged not worthy.
In order to best present yourself and your case for promotion without coming across as self-serving, you should have plenty of information ready for when you ask your boss or manager.
Firstly, instead of saying that you think you deserve a promotion, ask your boss what it will take to earn a promotion. The chances are you’ll know what they are going to say, but it will give you more of a realistic timetable and guide of how to efficiently reach your goal.
When the next conversation is had, have a business case ready that displays why you should be promoted and how you plan on going about it. It’s an old cliché, but timing is everything here - recognise the state of the business, be patient and wait for the optimum moment. If you rush in and approach management at the wrong time, it will damage your chances.
Other important things to consider when you are having the internal promotion conversations include:
- Do not compare yourself to your colleagues
- Don’t think that because you have a good relationship with your boss they will be more likely to give you a promotion
- Don’t get emotional if they say a promotion isn’t on the cards - remain professional and ask what you can do to work towards it in the meantime
Once you’ve planted the seed of wanting a promotion, you will need to back it up with concrete evidence. A good way to go about this is by creating a resume of accomplishments.
3. How to write a resume for a promotion
A good approach to take, and one that will provide you with collateral to take into any meetings about a potential internal promotion, is to create a resume supporting your request for a promotion.
Not sure how to write a resume for a promotion? Know you need to blow your own trumpet but don’t know how to go about it best? Here’s how you can do it…
Compile examples that demonstrate how you’ve mastered the responsibilities in your current role and highlight that you are now ready for the next step up.
Showcase how you have added to the organisation by doing more than what is required of you in your current role and how those efforts have improved your team or department. When talking or writing about your work, try to make some of it visually appealing - people are generally much more receptive when they see a visual snapshot that backs up what you’ve been saying.
To display you are proactive and forward thinking, devise a game plan for how your current team and colleagues will manage without you should you be promoted. This will show how you’re thinking for the good of the business and not just your own situation - make a list of your duties and how they could easily be transitioned to your team members.
4. Preparing for a promotion interview
If management believes you are eligible for a promotion, there is a good chance they will ask you to present your case in an interview.
An internal promotion interview will be a bit different to a normal interview - you should already know the company’s mission, expectations, goals and processes, and similarly, the interviewer will know your abilities and strengths.
This means there will be different types of conversations and inevitably some challenging questions.
As is the case with any interview, you should research the position thoroughly - learn the organisational structure, find out what the previous employee’s responsibilities were and do a bit of digging to see if there have been any historic challenges associated with the position. This will give you the best possible understanding of what the role entails, and you can play up to that in your promotion interview.
Think about how your particular skills and experience can contribute to the role, matching them to the job description where possible. Just like when you’re thinking about how to write a resume for a promotion, use data to prove your points.
Another thing to consider, and one that is more likely to crop up in an internal promotion interview, is how you’ve improved and how you’ve addressed any issues which have been encountered on the job.
This problem solving style approach demonstrates a level of accountability which the interviewer will look favourably on.
5. Internal promotion interview questions and answers
Whilst each interview will be different depending on the job you are hoping to get, there are several questions that consistently crop up in these type of interviews:
- What made you want to change roles or departments? It seems obvious, but you need to be able to explain exactly why you want this promotion. Avoid saying you think you deserve it or that you’re entitled to it and also avoid saying that you’re dissatisfied with your current position. Instead, focus on the contributions you can make and the positive benefits you will bring. To round off your response to this question, it’s always good to link back to your professional goals and how this move will help with your career progression.
- How are you different from others going for this promotion? This is a question that will be asked in almost every interview - external or internal. Distinguish yourself from others by outlining your past accomplishments and relating them to your plans for your future in the role. Once again, use data and figures to prove your value and quantify your achievements.
- How will you ensure you have an impact in your first month? As you’re already an employee, if you’re successful in obtaining the promotion, you’ll be expected to hit the ground running. To display that you fully understand the expectations surrounding the role, you will have to clearly and succinctly articulate what you plan to achieve in the first few weeks of your new position. What sort of goals will you set? How will you measure success? How will you get the team working better together?
This video covers how to position yourself as the best candidate for an internal promotion by leveraging your own attributes and skills.
6. How to follow up after your internal promotion interview
So you’ve put yourself forward, prepared and attended a promotion interview. What’s next?
Well, just the same as with any job application, you should follow up with the appropriate person or people. There’s a real possibility that you will encounter them everyday anyway, so it’s important to not be overbearing and constantly nag them for an update - this could negatively impact your chances of success! Let them get back to you in their own time; when they have an update, they will let you know.
Send a simple follow up thank you note and bring up anything from the interview that you’ve been thinking about that could put you in good stead. In an ideal world, you will have asked about next steps in the interview, giving a clear picture of turnaround times and expectations. This said, if it has been some time and you still haven’t heard anything, try to remain positive and send a professional (gentle) chaser email.
Successful or not, the process will be good for you.
Whatever the outcome of your interview, the whole experience will be beneficial for your career.
If you get the promotion - well done, your career has just taken a significant step forward. But if you don’t and someone else gets the role, don’t be downhearted. You will have given a great impression of yourself to management and there will be plenty more opportunities in the future - it’s all part of the journey. The next time around you’ll have all this useful knowledge and internal promotion interview experience already in your locker!