Whether you're climbing the corporate ladder or simply ready for a change, there are signs indicating it's time to explore a step up.

Each day, you tackle your workload with grace and grit, and you might be wondering what's next. Should you stay where you are? Is it time for a promotion? 

One quick way to assess the idea of a promotion is to put yourself in your supervisor's shoes. If you were your supervisor, would you consider promoting yourself as an employee? Of course, it's difficult to be truly objective here. But if you hesitated at all, you have some homework to do.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." ~Bruce Lee

But where do you start? How do you know when it's time to ask for a promotion? Use these quick tips as a guide to get a better handle on where you're headed.

Identify Your Goals

Grab a piece of paper (yep, literally), and jot down three aspects about your job that give you life and three other areas of your responsibilities that tend to drain you while you're at work. And if you feel like there's more to explore, of course, you can add items to either list. Did you discover any surprises on this list?

What is it that you want? We're not ready for specifics (including salary) at the moment. Consider how content you are doing what you're doing. Do you enjoy your responsibilities? What are your feelings as you wake up each morning and begin working?

As you continue to ponder, you're probably ready for a goal-oriented question. What do you want your next step in your career to be?

Amount of Time

Spending time with the same company (more than a couple of years) helps you earn the right to ask for a promotion. During this time, you're able to establish rapport, grow relationships, and prove your working benefit to the company. When you have spent several years at the same company without promotion, it might be time to ask for one.

Also, consider when would be the right time to ask for a promotion. What is going on in your supervisor's life? If there's a huge project that's taking their focus or if your supervisor has recently undergone a physical or personal challenge, consider waiting a month or two. While there is no perfect time to ask for a promotion, there are certainly better times than others.

Increased Workload

If you're not currently keeping a timecard at work, consider keeping a personal timecard. How do you spend your days and on what projects? Look back one year and estimate how the time you spent on projects has changed. When you're completing a significant amount of more work than when you were hired or started your current position, it might be time to ask for a promotion.

With time and mastery, there's an expected level of increased workload. Though over the years, have you taken a larger role on certain projects? Can you think of times where you stepped in to help a co-worker? How often are you looked to in order to save a project?

Successes ... Not Just Tasks

While we just covered workload, take that list one step further and display ways you have benefited the company. When discussing a promotion, state accomplishments as successes, instead of as tasks. For example, you may have "implemented a program to reduce overhead by 15%" rather than simply listing "managed temporary employees." When you can list multiple successes you've had recently, it might be time to ask for a promotion.

This definitely includes continued education. While most people often think of graduate-level studies towards your next degree, online training and certifications qualify for continuing education. Consider the amount of time you have spent learning something new (concept, process, program, protocol). How has your education benefited the company and your current responsibilities? The education you experienced and mastered counts towards your success for the company.

"People don't get promoted for doing their jobs really well. They get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more." ~Tara Jaye Frank


If you're considering asking for a promotion, begin by planting seeds with your supervisor. Casually bring up questions about where your position is headed or successes you've had. You might even be so bold as to share that you've been considering asking for a promotion. Say that you're not asking now, but you might in the future. This can safely open the door to ask your supervisor initial thoughts or suggestions they might have.

When you're ready to ask for a promotion, prepare something in writing. Be sure to keep it brief, yet comprehensive. You want to be respectful of your supervisor's time as well as show that you have put time, thought, and effort into your proposal.

Asking for a promotion can feel risky at times. Though when the time is right, it's just right.

Expecting to take the leap and ask for that promotion this year? Share in the comments.