in Career

How do you get a job promotion without a salary increase?
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A short guide on how to maximize your chances of getting promoted when you’re ready.

The question

How do you get job promotions (not necessarily salary increases) at your current place of employment?

My answer

I wrote a free email course specifically to address this type of question: How to get promoted in 7 days. I’ll give a short summary of the course here, but the course is designed to walk you through the process from beginning to end at a good pace, so I definitely recommend checking it out if this summary is useful.

Define your goal

What specific job are you targeting? Learn as much as you can about that job by reading the job description and talking to people already doing that job.

Identify the differences between your target job and your current job—what are the things your target job requires that your current job does not?

Before you continue, take some time to consider whether your really want to do your target job. Is that a job you’re really interested in? If it is, then keep going. If it’s not, look for other jobs that you’re more interested in.

Produce results to show you’re ready for your target job

Earlier, you identified the differences between your current job and your target job. Now you need to create a plan to actually accomplish those differences. For each difference you identified between you current job and your target job, create a plan of action for accomplishing that thing.

For example, maybe you’re aiming for a promotion from Consultant to Senior Consultant, and the difference between those two roles is that a Senior Consultant mentors other Consultants. Mentoring probably isn’t something you can just do, so ask your manager if there are any good mentoring opportunities where you can be useful. “I’m really comfortable with the Consultant role, and am already documenting processes and creating training for new Consultants. If there are any Junior Consultants that need a mentor, I would love to work with them.”

Now you should have a clear plan—a roadmap—with action items to accomplish in order to produce results to show you’re ready for your new promotion. The key is that you are doing your target job before you’re formally promoted into it.

Document your accomplishments and accolades

As you work through your roadmap, start building your case by recording your accomplishments and accolades in a summary format that you can reuse later.

Accomplishments are things you’ve done to demonstrate that you’re ready for this promotion. Here’s an example:

  • Documented teammate onboarding process to make it reusable and to help decrease the time to productivity when new people join our team.

Accolades are praise and awards you’ve received over the past several months. Here’s an example:

  • ACME Corp—”Shannon really nailed this project. She kept us on track and informed the whole time, and did a great job of identifying risks well ahead of time. She made this project easy for us.” —Tom Thompson, VP of HR

I recommend keeping an email folder dedicated to documenting your accomplishments and accolades so you can easily find them later.

Prepare your case

Now that you’ve actually done the work to demonstrate that you’re ready for this promotion, put your case in writing, formatted as a short email that you’ll share with your manager once you’ve requested your promotion.

You won’t send this email until you have already spoken with your manager about the promotion, but creating this email is a crucial step to preparing for that conversation wit your manager. Here’s a template you can use:

Hi [Your manager’s name]

Thanks for your time the other day. As I mentioned in our conversation, I would like to be considered for a promotion to [new job title]. I’ve been working very hard to prepare for this opportunity, and I think I am ready.

I’ve been working hard to do the work to prepare for this new challenge. Here are some of my accomplishments over the past several months:

  • Verb noun to result
  • Verb noun to result
  • Verb noun to result
  • Verb noun to result

And here is some feedback I’ve received from clients and co-workers over the past several months—their feedback speaks louder than anything I could say:

  • Client or co-worker name—”Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey
  • Client or co-worker name—”Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey
  • Client or co-worker name—”Quote” or general feedback documented in email or survey

I believe the accomplishments and feedback above show that I am ready for this move, and for greater responsibility and compensation. I look forward to hearing what else you need from me to help make this happen.

Thanks again for your time and consideration!

All the best

[Your name]

DO NOT SEND THIS EMAIL YET! First you need to meet with your manager.

Present your case

If you have regular 1-on-1s with your manager, then you should bring this topic up in your next 1-on-1. If you don’t have regular 1-on-1s scheduled, or if your 1-on-1 is frequently cancelled, you should reach out to your manager and let her know that you would like to meet soon to talk through some questions you have.

Once you’ve spoken to your manager, review the email you drafted earlier, and make any changes that seem necessary after your conversation. Once you’ve made any updates, go ahead and send it along to your manager for review and consideration.

Evaluating your result

This process will help you present a very strong case for your promotion, and you should get a clear result afterward: you either got your desired promotion or you didn’t. If you did, then you can start looking ahead to your next promotion and start this process over.

If you didn’t get your desired promotion, take some time to understand exactly why you didn’t get it so that you can fill in the gaps and try again. Or it may be clear that this promotion simply isn’t available to you at your current company, and you might consider looking elsewhere to find an opportunity for you to do the job you’re pursuing.

Don’t forget to check out my free email course: How to get promoted in 7 days That course is designed to walk you through this process over seven days in much greater detail.

Good luck!