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How to get a promotion

You start thinking that it might be a good time to ask for a promotion, but you aren’t sure. You want to successfully rise to the challenge if they say yes, sending the right message to the company. 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 for a promotion 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. According to Iñaki Saltor, managing partner of Saltor Talent, one day you’ll get out of bed and know that you know the answers to almost all of the questions at work. Let’s be honest, your chair is comfortable – very comfortable – but it doesn’t excite you anymore. You almost never feel the sense of excitement you had when you took the position. You want more. More challenges. More questions that you don’t already know 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, confirm if you can take on new projects that challenge you in your current position. You should also find out if colleagues who have jobs like yours have been offered promotions. 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 three years. Are you sure there isn’t more to be done?

If you know the responsibilities of your current position like the back of your hand, feel like you have closed a chapter and feel motivated to continue moving towards your next career goal, smile, take the leap and prepare to live (again) with some excitement. Remember that the best professionals always look for new opportunities to grow.

Win over your bosses (among others)

If you want to move up, you have to convince your bosses and other key professionals in your company that you deserve a promotion. For executive coach Joanna Moss, an ongoing conversation with your bosses is essential, because it gives you insights into what they think is lacking in your performance. Do you need professional development? Or more experience? What type of training and experience? Can you be more specific, please?

This conversation will also help you figure out how to ask for a promotion in your company; what is expected of ambitious candidates before moving up to the next level; and what options there are for climbing the ladder. You can also use the conversation to explore lateral moves that may later allow you to make a jump.

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

These conversations will guide you in the direction of a promotion and allow you to gain the confidence of key people in the company. You know how to ask for what you want, you’ve made an effort to earn the promotion and you’ve improved in the specific areas identified by company leaders. What more could they ask for?

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

Listen: You need information, professional development and a good plan

María Ángeles Losa, Head of Career Management at IESE, points out that having conversations with others in your company is not enough to find out what you need to get promoted. You also have to look outside of your company. For example, it may be useful to compare yourself to professional with 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 experience 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 if the new position is all that you hope for. Will it bring the salary increase you hoped for? Is the lifestyle associated with the position attractive to you (travel, long work hours, work environment)? What competencies are needed for this 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 the information, competencies and experience that are essential to make the leap. 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, organization, self-control and optimism. The ability to listen and to ask questions is your best ally.

4. Prepare your cover letter

Your network of contacts (including bosses) should speak well of you, but don’t forget about the educational path, continuous improvement and projects in your plan for moving up.

5. It’s your moment

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


IESE can support you in your advancement and development as an executive through educational programs. Our MBA programs boost your professional career and provide the opportunity to discuss experiences and personal growth projects with other students and professors.

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