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How to get a promotion

You start thinking about it. You start thinking about it a lot. You think that it might be a good time to ask for a promotion, but you still have many doubts in your head. If they say yes, you want to meet the challenge by launching a winning proposal while understanding the context, of course. The opinion of your bosses matters, because this could be (and hopefully will be) the first of many promotions until you get the job of your dreams. But how do you know if you’re prepared to be promoted and how should you ask for it?

Getting a promotion: How to know it’s the right time

The best professionals always look for new opportunities to grow inside and outside of their companies. That’s why, according to Iñaki Saltor, managing partner of Saltor Talent, one day you’ll get out of bed and know that you have almost all the solutions to problems at work. Your chair, let’s be honest, is comfortable – very comfortable – but it doesn’t excite you anymore. The thrill you felt at first is only felt once in a while now. You want more. More challenges. More problems that you don’t have the answers to. More excitement. What are you going to do?

First, you should make sure that your feelings are based on reality. To do that, you should confirm whether your current position allows you to take on new projects that challenge you. You should also find out if colleagues who have jobs similar to yours have had this opportunity. Have they continued growing? Have they gotten stuck? Second, ask yourself how much time you’ve been in your job.  It’s not usual to run out of exciting goals after just three years. Are you sure there isn’t more to be done?

If you believe that you have completed a stage; that you have been three years (sometimes less) in a position that you already know perfectly; and that you’ve got to keep going until you reach the final goal in your career plan, then push the red button, smile, take the leap and prepare to live (again) with some excitement. Remember the best professionals always look for new opportunities to grow.

Win over your bosses (and not only your bosses)

If you want to move up, you have to convince your bosses and other key professionals in your company (on occasion those who may surprise you). For Joanna Moss, executive coach, an ongoing conversation with your bosses is essential, because it gives you insights into what they think we lack in order to be promoted. Do we need education? Maybe experience? What type of education and experience? Can you be more specific, please?

This conversation will also help you figure out how promotions are asked for in the company, so that they are received positively; what is expected of ambitious candidates before moving up to the next level; and what options there are for climbing the ladder, as well as going for a lateral move that later will allow you to make the jump up.

Take advantage of conversations with bosses and other key professionals to create networks of alliances and to reveal a personal side of yourself, showing your abilities, competencies and dedication. Be sure to shine in your current position so they will recognize your excellent work. This is so they’ll ask themselves: Why not give you the promotion since you’re the perfect candidate?

At this stage, you have gained their confidence in a short period of time; you know how to ask for things;  you’ve made an effort to earn the prize; and you’ve been improving for years in the way they said you should in order to continue moving up. What more could they want?

How to convince your boss to do an executive education program.

Listen: You need information, education and a good plan 

María Ángeles Losa, IESE’s Head Career Management, points out that, to find out what you need to get promoted, having conversations inside the company is not enough. You also have to look outside. Compare yourself, for example, with those who have your ideal job in other companies. Carry out post-graduate studies, not only to specialize, but also to create networks and find out about the experiences of other smart colleagues. And, finally, take your profile to the marketplace to see how it’s received and what type of commitment companies ask for in exchange for moving up.

In this way, you’ll find out, truthfully, if moving up inside and outside the company will bring the salary increase you hoped for; if the lifestyle offered interests you (travel, extensive work days, the work environment); and what capacities and competencies are desirable for your career path.

The information that you have acquired researching the market, your bosses and key professionals in the company will help you fill the gaps in information, competencies and experience that are essential for making the leap that you propose. Now you need a good strategy for moving up and a career plan that gives meaning to this promotion. Because you want to be promoted until you get the job of your dreams, right?

Job Promotion | IESE Standout

The path to your career advancement 

1. Make sure you shine

Continuously improve, accurately measure your progress, try to make a positive impact on the business. And make sure that your bosses know about your progress!

2. Choose your weapons well

Get the right coaching, mentoring and academic preparation that you need to reach your goals. Moving up from technical professional to manager is not the same as moving up from manager to executive. Take on new projects to add depth to your current position.

3. Show the right attitudes

Focus on results, flexibility, empathy, order, self-control and optimism. The ability to listen and to ask questions are your best allies.

4. Prepare your cover letter

Your network of contacts (including bosses) should speak well of you, but also your educational path, continuous improvement and projects that you have included in your plan for moving up.

5. It’s your moment

Take advantage of the meeting with your boss to mention a success or objectives you’ve met, in order to create a positive narrative that justifies your promotion.


IESE can support you in your advancement and can help you develop as an executive through educational programs and the opportunity to boost your professional future with its MBA programs.  During the programs, you will be able to discuss concerns, experiences and personal growth projects with other students and professors.

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