asking for a raise or promotion

know your own worth!

So you have been there, done it, got the t-shirt and now you are ready for something bigger, better, more responsibility and more accountability, and more money. Or you have already been doing more than your role requires of you and you want to be recognised for it, including financially.

Three things to bear in mind:

  1. It is easier to ask for a promotion than a salary increase. So put your effort in that. Promotions come in general with roughly a 5% raise in salary, as well as additional perks like for example bigger bonusses, parking spots, etc. 
  2. Don’t rely on people “knowing” you should have been promoted by now, you have to ask for it! Everybody is busy nowadays, and you are the only one really in charge of your career!!!!
  3. Except for the graduate programmes, promotions are usually not annually, or even every other year. Having 3-4 years between promotions is pretty common, and sometimes it can be closer to 10 years…. traditional companies may still have an “age” vs “job level” vs “ultimate potential” graph, assuming you will be with them for the entirety of your working life. Yup!

The hard bit is knowing where to start. In some countries and companies, job levels or seniority is very clear, and you know who is in the next step above you in the “food chain”. 

Many companies in Australia don’t share this information with employees, but you can usually work it out by looking at people’s titles. There is usually the HR intranet site, which should hold information about roles, seniority and responsibilities. And if you are completely in the dark, ask a co-worker, a mentor or a sponsor.

Check out my blogs on mentoring and sponsors on this site:

As a promotion means more responsibility and more accountability, as well as more money, you will need to convince yourself and others that what you are doing is “beyond” what someone in your job grade does. 

If you have a mentor, or sponsor, now is definitely the time to run it past them! Schedule a coffee catch up and be totally honest! And be willing to accept an opinion that states that you aren’t ready yet! But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

There are normally two ways about asking for a promotion; you can ask for a promotion in your current role, or apply for an internal job that is more senior. The third option is to apply for a more senior role outside of the company you work for, but don’t go there until you have had a good look inside the company you currently work for.

Moving up the career ladder
Photo by Twelve Visualz on

How to ask for a promotion in your current role:

Once you have summarised on paper for yourself why you think you deserve a promotion, set up a meeting with your supervisor, and put it to them that you think you are ready for the next level up; more responsibility and more accountability. Go through your current roles and responsibilities, and what you have delivered, and clarify what you think is beyond your current level. Take the opportunity to make them realise that you are in charge of your career and serious about it. 

This chat can go three ways:

  1. They think it is a great idea – excellent, promotion in the bag, this wasn’t that hard!
  2. They think you are not ready yet
  3. They want to wait on ……. Something non-committal

It is amazing what they can do if they only know. They can facilitate a transfer, or give you more responsibility in your current role. Your supervisor could even make you a formal 2iC (which you may have been doing for a while already). 

If the answer is “not ready” or something non-committal, don’t be disheartened but ask them to show you where your current gaps are for the step up, and discuss how can you fill them in your current role. Are there specific skills you need, for instance if you need more supervising skills you could offer to supervise an intern or graduate.

Not being ready for the next step on the ladder is rarely due to educational requirements, so it is more likely that you will need to take part in a specific project or job rotation to improve your skill depth or breath to the level that is required for you to be promoted.

Make sure you have a clear picture of your gaps coming out of the feedback meeting, and develop a plan on how you can fill them and what time it would take. 

It shouldn’t make a difference; but most companies look at promotions twice a year, during the mid-year staff capability review (long term succession planning for key positions), and at the end of the year at performance review time. If you make sure you are in the picture at those times, it could help!

Be realistic about comparing yourself to your fellow workers. As a discipline Chief I would normally look at two or three people who are in the same grade as the person who is put forward for promotion, and two or three people who are in the grade that the person is looking to move into. What are their roles and responsibilities, what are they expected to do. That helps to see how the candidate compares in real terms, much easier than job descriptions. It also makes it much easier to identify gaps if there are any and helps to provide practical and honest feedback to the applicant.

HR will have a general guide on what the roles and responsibilities are at different job grades. Remember, this is a general guide and not meant to be a “tick the boxes” event. And remember, there is the what (you do) and the how (you do it)! As you are becoming more senior the how is becoming more and more important.

So, if you have been stuck in the same role at the same pay grade for a while, either speak up or put up. Your career is Your responsibility!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s