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July 17, 2008

« Suburbia at the Tipping Point? | Main | Creative New Zealand »

Ask Rana

Advice on Work, Life & Play

Internationally syndicated advice columnist


I’ve been in the same job for two years with no promotions except for a slight cost of living adjustment. I typically clock over 60 hours a week and I sit idly by watching colleague after colleague climb the corporate ladder. I finish my work; get my projects in on budget and on deadline but with no kudos. What do I need to do to get a decent promotion?



(image from art-of-negotiation.blogspot.com)


The key word here is idly. You CAN’T sit idly by and wait for a promotion to get handed to you on a silver platter! My brother was in the same position and I was flabbergasted when he told me he made his request heard by muttering under his breath as he passed his boss in the hallway or passively aggressively joked about wanting a promotion. Here are 10 easy steps to a promotion.

  1. Schedule an appointment with your boss for an hour meeting with the subject of the meeting as “career development.” 
  2. Do your homework! Make a list of all your accomplishments and successes in your current position and bring it to the meeting.
  3. Start the meeting by telling your boss how much you appreciate the time they took to meet with you and how happy you are working there. Go through your accomplishments and explain that you feel it’s time to move on to something more challenging.
  4. Clearly state what position(s) you are seeking and the value you bring to the organization.
  5. Lock your boss into a deadline and next steps by asking how soon they can help make that happen or get a clear picture of what you need to do to make that happen.
  6. Get concise information about the salary range for the position.
  7. Explain that you will do whatever it takes to help expedite the process and train your replacement.
  8. In the meantime, make sure you are not just sitting idly by. Update your resume and cover letter.
  9. Submit your resume to several other organizations and find a headhunter.
  10. One month prior to the deadline, schedule another meeting with your boss to see if the timeline is on track. If it isn’t, get clear answers as to why. If you feel you are getting the runaround, explain that you are dedicated to helping the organization advance but that you feel it’s time to take your career to the next level and if they can’t help you do that, then you will have to try to do it elsewhere. If your boss says it is on track, then make sure to check back one week prior to the deadline and congratulations!


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Mike L.

At Step 3, have Plan B ready! Your boss may use the "career development" meeting as the golden opportunity to terminate you or impart other bad news. So have at the ready a pre-written "letter of reference" describing yourself in glowing terms, which just needs your boss's signature.


I do feel a bit sorry for the manager -- especially in a large company, they may have less control over your promotion than you or they would like.

I would suggest finding out as much as you can about the promotion process: are there restrictions (a promotions "budget", only done at certain times, etc.) or specific requirements (tenure, performance ratings)? Who creates the shortlist of promotion candidates and who actually makes the decision?

A good source for this can be a manager from a different group -- not knowing the specifics of your case, they may feel more comfortable discussing the process in general.


Both good points. The general goal is to take control over your future and growth and to take steps in a positive direction.


I want to say - thank you for this!

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