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How to Make Your Case for a Promotion

Want a promotion? Let me guess the response.

I estimate that over 80% to 90% of individuals never ask for a promotion. Worse still, of those who do, over 95% don’t plan well enough before pitching for it. Considering what’s at stake, it is surprising that so many individuals don’t have a robust plan to achieve their career goals. If you have repeatedly lost out on a promotion to an “unworthy” contestant, it may be time to conduct an honest self assessment.

Consider the following strategies:

Define the goal

Before pitching for a promotion, it is absolutely critical to define your next step. Do you want to move to a leadership position? Are you seeking to add project management skills to your portfolio? Is it just a jump in the title? Is it about the money? Are your short term goals in sync with your long term career strategy? Get it?

Prepare yourself

Once you are clear on the direction, conduct a thorough analysis of the skills required for the target promotion. Is there a gap between what is needed and what you have to offer? If so, develop a comprehensive strategy to close the gap. Training and professional development, voluntary projects, part time jobs, cross-functional collaboration, working under a mentor -- there are a number of ways in which you can enrich your portfolio.

Evaluate employer dynamics

If you can demonstrate how you will make a positive contribution toward the employer’s goals, it is very likely that your request will be well-received. Evaluate the company’s overall direction and position. Where is the company headed? What are the employer’s needs? Is someone from the division leaving? Are you a good fit? Does your case have merit?

At times, individuals can recommend creating a new position -- and I have seen it happen many times -- by demonstrating how the new role will benefit the organization.

Prepare the foundation

Don’t take it for granted that all your accomplishments will be noticed by key players. At times, you may have to flaunt your career accomplishments in order to prepare the foundation for your case. This is certainly true if you are consistently producing stellar results. Drop in subtle hints to the employer whenever you achieve a victory. It could be as simple as writing an e-mail saying, “Thank you for your support … I was able to accomplish XYZ … couldn’t have done it without all the guidance.”

Seek feedback

Establish a solid relationship with key stakeholders within the organization. Feedback from immediate bosses and supervisors can provide valuable pointers, especially for overcoming the missing elements.

Showcase past accomplishments, describe future benefits

When you are pitching for a promotion, discuss how you have made positive contributions in the past and how you can continue the trend -- and do even better -- by being in a position of higher authority.

Seek endorsements, build alliances

When a neutral person makes a comment about you, it is much more credible than if you were to toot your own horn. Everyone from team members to peers to subordinates can serve as valuable allies and endorsers when you are making your case for a promotion.

Create a dynamite resume

Develop a resume that conveys a solid value proposition. Provide solid career accomplishments and a strong message that would influence the decision maker to consider you over the competition.

- Nimish Thakkar, Career Coach & Resume Writer

Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after certified career management coach and professional resume writer. He has helped thousands of clients, including professionals at Fortune 500 companies. Thakkar has authored hundreds of articles and is regularly invited to speak on a wide range of career-related issues. Nimish edits and manages a free career information site,, and is the CEO of a professional resume writing service,