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Common mistakes employees make when seeking a promotion

Asking for a promotion can be as stressful as getting the job in the first place

You are putting your position at risk by suggesting that you are worthy of a promotion, such as by appearing too ambitious or over-reaching.

With a more competitive workforce and ever-increasing workloads, selling yourself is an ever-more competitive game. To ask for a promotion, you need to demonstrate being able to perform your role above and beyond expectation; conversely, what should you not do when approaching management?

Unclear motivation

If you are unhappy in your job, a promotion will not fix this. Examine what your motivation is in seeking a promotion and ask yourself whether it is realistic.

Are you feeling undervalued? This is a different conversation to have. Are you frustrated and seeking new challenges? Ask for a new challenge without asking for a promotion to test the waters and demonstrate your flexibility and transferrable skills.

When you are ready for a promotion, your employer will have noticed your willingness to be adaptable and will hopefully reward you.

Hierarchical implications

Examine the hierarchy of your company before asking for a promotion. What are the corporate goals of the company and can you help?

If the organisation is structured in such a way that a promotion is not realistic, consider additional training or moving to another job. Consult the HR department about your options.

Trying too hard

Desperation does not result in promotion. If you are constantly trying to compliment your boss, this will backfire; if you are too eager to help, you may end up putting them off you.

Trying to do the manager’s job for them is also not advisable, as it is threatening; instead, ask whether you can help with anything additional to make yourself known.

Do your own job to the best of your ability and try to be ahead of schedule in your tasks in addition to working well within your team and you are more likely to succeed.

Timing is everything

When asking for a promotion, make sure it is the right time to do so; asking at an unsuitable time may result in an unwelcome answer.

Arrange a meeting at a time when you are likely to get a good response, so preferably not around lunchtime or at the end of the day. If something unpleasant occurs in the office on the day, reschedule the meeting.

Testing the water

Do not ask for a promotion to find out where you stand within a company – this conversation is best had in a more productive way.

Equally, do not ask for a promotion by threatening to go elsewhere or comparing your responsibilities and salary to other firms. Complaining about others getting promoted is also not attractive to managers.

Lack of planning

Approaching your employer without a full dossier of examples of how you meet their expectations of you and beyond is promotion suicide. Make sure you can demonstrate how you are an asset to the company and have plenty of examples to hand.

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