How To Get A Promotion

Vanessa Ng

You have been contributing actively, and are doing a bunch of things that are beyond your job scope. You feel that it is time to not just get a pay raise, but to also be promoted. However, what actionable steps can you take to better your chances of being recognized? How do you go about getting an actual promotion?

 

Types of promotion

First and foremost, when thinking about promotions, most only think about internal promotions. You may either remain in your team, or move to another department within your company locally or in regional offices. Alternatively, you can also receive external promotion to another subsidiary by the company. If your company got acquired, you may even move to the new parent company. If you are interested in exploring new responsibilities, you can even try for a lateral promotion.

 

Why am I not promoted?

 Is this a question that you have been asking yourself? As ironic as it sounds, you may not get a promotion precisely because you are good at what you do. Your boss may be overly dependent on you such that they refuse to promote you for fear of losing you due to a possible internal transfer to cover a wider job scope or geographical area. This is especially so if your department is part of a much bigger group. As you can see, viewing things from your boss’s perspectives can shed some light as to why you were not promoted earlier, or why he has yet to approach you to inform you of a promotion. With that in mind, do not be overly harsh on yourself.

 

Furthermore, it may not be time for your promotion yet. According to a report by JobStreet, Singapore firms take about 46 months to extend a promotion. This is approximately over a year longer than the region’s average of 33 months. To worsen the situation, Singapore firms also has one of the lowest pay increment for employees who got promoted, at 14% compared to 16% to 24% across the region. While this timeframe varies greatly across sectors and job level, it is a useful statistic to keep in mind.

 

Means of negotiating for a promotion

 

  • Before the negotiation

With that out of the way, the means of negotiating for a promotion is very important. It would be good if you have clarified with your boss on the qualities that he is looking for before promoting someone. This way, your goals will be aligned with his directly. Keeping a simple log of your accomplishments, together with concrete numbers and tangible KPIs, will also help to address his concerns directly. Even in daily meetings, you can show a sense of leadership without being unpleasantly overpowering. Have insightful or valuable contributions can turn heads.

Meanwhile, it is helpful to make friends with someone from HR. Even if he is not in the hiring team, you may still know of job openings through a simple coffee or lunch. You may even receive a tip off about promotional opportunities in your department, and even in other areas within the company. Concurrently, you can also search for your company’s job openings on job portals. Do bear in mind that most big companies engage a hiring agency to help hunt for appropriate talent as well. With this knowledge, you can better request for a promotion in an informed manner.

 

  • During the negotiation 

During the negotiation itself, you may find out that exceeding KPIs may be insufficient. You need to be prepared to have your assumptions challenged. Have you taken on more responsibilities? Are you able to quantify your extra contributions? Have you stood out from fellow colleagues, yet ensured that you are on good terms with them to show that you are a team player? Have you proven that you are capable of managing a team on top of overwhelming work?

As evident, having initiative and being engaged with not just your department, but also departments that you work with, is crucial.

 

Handling rejection

If your job promotion request fails to go through, do not give up or be dejected. Refrain from revealing your disappointment overtly. Handling the rejection well can set you up for future promotions.

For a start, you can try requesting for a mentor. This is incredulously helpful as not only can they guide you, they can also redirect or connect you with the most appropriate person through their network. In addition, you can even ask for a job rotation and or relevant training to show eagerness to learn and contribute back. If you have a limited training budget, you can even highlight to your boss that you are willing to top up the remainder to show how committed you are.


To conclude, always place yourself in the shoes of your boss, your boss’s boss, and so on. Seizing opportunities when presented, even if they are not readily available or common, is important. If you feel that the amount of effort is not recognized, or if your workplace is too dysfunctional, then perhaps it is time for you to go somewhere else.

 

(By Vanessa Ng)

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