How to Get Promoted At Work [10 Tips +Infographic]

Everyone is always striving to get promoted at work. It (usually) means a better title, more influence, and — the biggest perk — a higher salary. While everyone wants the big promotion, very rarely do people take the initiative and do the work to make themselves more promotable. Perhaps, they didn’t even know they could.

To help you get a leg up on coworkers and take a step in the right direction — up the career ladder — here are our 10 tactics for how to get promoted at work.

10 Tips for How to Get Promoted

1. Get clear expectations from your boss

The first and arguably most important step you can take towards getting a promotion is having a frank conversation with your boss or supervisor. Ask them for clear, demonstrable benchmarks you can hit in your current role that will demonstrate to them that you’re a good candidate for promotion. You can be expected to meet expectations that you don’t know about, so this conversation will provide added clarity around how to leverage your day-to-day responsibilities for future promotion opportunities. Secondly, this conversation is a great way to show your boss that you are goal-oriented and are seeking additional responsibility, a desirable quality when it comes time for annual reviews or promotions.

2. Document your achievements

Data drives countless business decisions regardless of industry, so why not use data to drive decisions around promotions? Keep diligent notes of everything you do that improves the internal processes, helps coworkers with their tasks, or improves the company bottom line. Not only will this help you make a case for yourself, these records are great to include with your resume if you choose to pursue outside job opportunities.

3. Push beyond your job description

If you want to make a case for having greater responsibilities, one tactic is to demonstrate your ability and capacity to do just that in your current position. While no one wants to take on extra work—and no one should do that long-term—volunteering to oversee a project or task that no one else wants is a great way to set yourself apart from coworkers. When it comes time for a promotion, your leadership team will remember you going the extra mile.

4. Prove you’re a leader

Even if you don’t currently hold a leadership position, it is always important to demonstrate clear leadership skills and qualities. To prove that you’re a leader, try a few of these strategies:

  • Be a role model for people within and outside of your department
  • Try to motivate coworkers when you get a tough assignment
  • Be a team player

And when you move into higher positions, you will want to continually work on these skills to make sure you’re leading the team positively and effectively.

5. Take pride in your job

We all have days where we are frustrated by our jobs, but on the whole, you should take pride in your work and in doing good work. Your work and the quality of your work is a reflection of you and your skills and values. So when it comes time for someone to get a promotion, they’re most likely to go for the person who has consistently demonstrated their solid work ethic and desire to do a good job. This person will be able to lead others in that same manner.

6. Ask for the promotion

This may seem too simple, but one great way to get a promotion is to ask for one. Your boss is likely juggling a lengthy to-do list and may not even be aware that you want to take on more responsibilities. By asking for a promotion you can achieve a few things that will get you headed in the right direction:

  • Make your boss aware you want a promotion
  • Learn about what they are looking for in promotion candidates
  • Demonstrate your eagerness to support the company

7. Have a positive attitude

People in leadership or management positions should always demonstrate a positive attitude to their subordinates, so it’s only logical that in order to earn a promotion, you should possess those same qualities. Stay calm in stressful situations and encourage others to do the same; stay on top of your work and support others who need it; and when any issues do arise, put on that can-do attitude and show your boss that you can take on anything.

8. Volunteer to be a mentor to others

If you think about it, managers are a lot like mentors to their team—so it makes sense to volunteer to be a mentor at your job. This is a common ask for people who have been at the company for a while or have a lot of experience in that department. When you mentor new or younger employees, you have an opportunity to instill positive values in your coworkers, but you also can show your leadership team that you would make a great leader yourself.

9. Identify ways process can improve and make suggestions

Do you ever get frustrated with a task and think, “There has to be a better way!” Well, there probably is, and you’re likely not the only person who feels this way. One great way to earn a promotion is to identify a process issue within your organization and propose a way to improve it. This shows that you’re invested in the long-term success of your company, and that you’re an ideas person who will bring helpful suggestions to the table if given the opportunity to lead.

10. Pursue continuing education opportunities

Pursuing continuing education is a great investment in your future regardless of your current job or aspirations for a promotion. However, it is also a great way to clearly demonstrate your advanced qualifications to your bosses. There are multiple options when it comes to continuing education, such as master’s degrees or professional development courses, but one often overlooked route is the advanced certificate. Certificate programs—usually offered by accredited colleges or universities—provide you with an in-depth review of a number of subjects, but at a lower cost and in less time than a master’s degree.

If you’re interested in exploring advanced certificate programs, consider the University of San Diego. We offer a wide variety of certificate programs across diverse disciplines and subject matters, so there’s likely an area of study that interests you. To learn more about our certificate option, please contact us for additional information.

Job Promotion FAQs

How do you ask for a promotion?

This should be a formal process, so ask to schedule a meeting or a business lunch with your senior manager and preface it by saying you would like to discuss your position and future. Have a clear and concise list of reasons why you think you deserve a promotion and how you would be successful in that role.

When should you ask for a promotion?

There is no wrong time to ask for a promotion, but a wise time to ask would be around the time of your annual reviews. At this time your performance has already been assessed and your company’s leadership is preparing to give out raises and promotions in other departments, so requesting a promotion now wouldn’t be jarring.

How do you qualify for a promotion?

This will vary from company to company, but there are a handful of tried-and-true ways to qualify for a promotion:

  1. Have consistently good performance reviews
  2. Demonstrate experience in the job or role
  3. Possess the skills that match the requirements of a leadership role
  4. Show your personal motivation and willingness to take on new or additional responsibilities

When should I say no to a promotion?

You should turn down a promotion if the new role requires you to take on responsibilities that either you’re not comfortable with or don’t want to do. Taking on a leadership role might mean doing less of the day-to-day work you’ve been doing, and if you prefer that work, you don’t have to accept the promotion. Also, if you are unhappy in your current job or with your current company, a promotion may not be the smartest choice.


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