Successful Professionals Explain How to Create and Present a Case for Job Advancement

Asking for a raise or promotion at work is often an intimidating experience, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. According to Steve Pritchard, HR manager at Cuuver — a UK-based insurance comparison technology company — requesting any type of advancement proves that you have ambition and that you would like to continue progressing within your company. Of course, before storming into your boss’s office and demanding a raise, you must take the necessary preparatory steps to guarantee that your request will be as successful as it can be. We have gathered advice from different professionals in order to best determine what you must do in order to take the initiative to ask for a promotion or raise.

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Laura MacLeod, LMSW, HR expert, Consultant, and facilitator of From the Inside Out Project, claims that your research should include not only determining what the HR policy on raises is, but also a more self-reflective research: employees should write down and reflect on what he or she has done for the company, and how this has benefited the bottom line. Pritchard agrees — HR managers need to hear what you have done to get the raise or promotion you are requesting. What skills do you possess that make you eligible for the specific position you are pursuing?

Phedra Arthur, principal consultant and author at Human-Centered Project Management, says that it’s also beneficial to research the positions that are available within your company and what specifically you can do to demonstrate that your skill set is ideal for the position you are trying to match. Before asking, she also states, make sure you have researched the market value for the position to which you are applying.

Adhere to company policy

As Pritchard stated, “one of the worst things you can do is to just randomly rush into the manager’s office demanding that you see a pay increase.” If you understand and abide by your company’s HR procedure, then you will be more likely to gain and maintain the respect of your boss or manager. This could mean discussing your promotional possibilities at a monthly meeting or at your annual review. According to MacLeod, this could mean making an appointment to speak with your boss and then presenting him or her with all that you have researched and rehearsed.

Be prepared to hear “no” or settle for less, but ask for an explanation and ways to improve

Go high, but prepared to settle for less, MacLeod says. She also claims that you should ask for specific reasons, but that you should frame it in such a way that shows you’re aiming to grow within the company. Prove that you are trying to improve your work and that you understand expectations.

Arthur’s advice is to never be prepared to hear no for more than a year. Take the feedback your boss gives you to heart, she says, and then continue to look for other opportunities (both internal and external).

Be intentional

Arthur also underscores how important it is to be intentional: “What is the journey you plan to take over the next year (or ten years)? How do you know you’ve reached your destination?” These are questions that you should answer for your boss. Start with personal objectives and key results, she says, and then discuss how you will continue progressing in that upward trajectory.

Network and make connections

Consistent networking, both externally and internally, is crucial to guaranteeing that when a position opens, you will be one of the first to know about it. You will also have the necessary connections to bolster your chances of success. According to Arthur, it’s a good idea to find an executive within your company to mentor you.

Prepare and practice

Before you can even enter the office and ask for a promotion or a raise, you need to be cognizant about laying the necessary groundwork for professional development. This can mean, according to Arthur, that you must dedicate time to personal development. You will be putting more effort into your work and this will boost your self-confidence while also making others take notice. If you’ve been putting forth this level of effort, then the company leadership will be expecting you to ask for a raise.

Right before you enter the meeting, according to MacLeod, you should practice exactly what it is you want to say and how you want to say it. Be “clear, concise, and direct”, she says. Make sure to write down and then articulately present what it is that makes you a valuable employee and how your promotion will specifically benefit the company. Also, be sure to mention how much of a raise your new responsibilities would require. Before you even mention the raise or promotion, Pritchard says, you should mention your achievements and talk about what you’ve already done for the company. If you look professional and poised, he adds, your request will “come across as less desperate, and will appear more like something you have properly planned out and thought through”.

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While requesting a raise or any type of advancement can be daunting, you can take certain steps to make the process less overwhelming while increasing the chances that the encounter is a fruitful one. This advice from professionals in their field — those who have already recognized and successfully implemented these processes — should help you to ask for the raise or promotion you may be hoping to achieve.


Fred Coon, CEO

At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.