How to Make Sure You Get Your Next Promotion and Pay Rise
6 min read

How to Make Sure You Get Your Next Promotion and Pay Rise

Put your career progression on autopilot and land a series of promotions using my 7-step strategy that will get you pay rise after pay rise.
How to Make Sure You Get Your Next Promotion and Pay Rise

Getting promoted can make a big difference to your life.

It’s not unheard of for some professionals to increase their salary by $250k over 5 years by getting a series of promotions. But this is missing something as well, the earlier you get a promotion and pay rise, the more time it has to compound. The difference to your lifetime career earnings is actually way higher than the $250k jump you can get in the next 5-years.

The beauty is, most big companies have a well defined career progression path.

So you can game it.

You have the opportunity to map out your future, control your actions and forge your own path towards promotions and pay rises. In today’s post I’m going to cover seven steps you can take to make it happen. What are you waiting for?

1. Set a clear direction

If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t be efficient in getting there.

“If I had five minutes to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first three sharpening my axe.” That’s a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln. He’s talking about preparation. This step might seem too slow for some people, who are excited to get going, but it is hugely important.

The advice is timeless.

You don’t want to set off climbing a hill that will become laborious, and where you’ll end up quitting. Before you start working towards a career goal, promotions and pay rises, you need to start by determining where you are going.

Then you’ll take on the right projects, build the right skills and make the right relationships.

It might take longer to get the first promotion, but once you get started it will feel like your career is a snowball rolling down a hill. Not a boulder you are pushing up one.

Actionable Step 1: Spend six months figuring out exactly where you want to go. Use the Hedgehog Concept developed by Jim Collins. Spend time thinking about:

  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • What can you be the best in the world at?
  • What will people pay you well to do?

Find a role that fits each of your answers, and you’ll be traveling along your career path with a massive, sustainable tailwind.

2. Don’t be shy about sharing your goals

Tell everyone about your direction, your plan and your end goal.

People can't help if they don't know your goals. Drop your goals into all relevant meetings, performance reviews and general conversations.

Chances are, people will find it intoxicating to be around someone who knows what they want, and they’ll want to feel like they supported you and join in on your journey.

Actionable Step 2: Every time you get a chance to work it into a conversation, tell people about your plan. Say you want to be the head of a strategy function, make sure you are constantly sharing “I want to be a Head of Strategy” or “When I’m a Head of Strategy…”.

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3. Recruit your super fans

Nothing good happens to you without your internal sponsors.

They will be there in promotion and pay discussions fighting for you and making your case for every promotion and pay rise. So make sure you actively identify them and impress them.

Build genuine relationships, support them, help them achieve their goals, actively look for ways to solve their main challenges and issues. These are your new main stakeholders.

Act accordingly.

Actionable Step 3: Identify the people who can impact your ability to get promoted, and who you can help in the process of achieving your goals. That is, your goals are aligned with theirs. Then treat them like your most important stakeholders so they show up for you when you need them.

4. Align your short-term plans to management plans

While your long-term plans might be different, in the short-term make sure that your plans align with your company and management teams goals. Think in quarters, not years.

This way your efforts are all pulling in the same direction of the key decision makers. The same people who will be making the decision on your

Take a further step to make it a no brainer for them by making them give you the blueprint for your promotion. They won’t want to disagree with themselves. Here’s how:

Every promotion cycle, ask your manager for answers to three questions:

  1. What projects can I join or start to achieve our shared goals?
  2. What skill gaps do I need to fill to get this promotion?
  3. What results do you need to see as evidence?

Then get to work delivering on each of these requirements. Make sure you document the discussion and how you have delivered on each of the requirements.

Actionable Step 4: Work with your management team and key stakeholders to align your short-term goals to theirs, and then ask them to specifically detail the results they want to see to approve your next promotion. Now you have alignment and clear actions to execute.

5. Relentlessly deliver on your short-term plan

Don’t think too much about anything over 3-months out.

There’s not much you can do about that time period. It’s out of your control. You’ll have a new 3-month plan by then anyway.

No, focus on relentlessly delivering on your short-term plan.

That’s it.

Actionable Step 5: Spend your time over delivering and make sure you are recording your results and the value you are delivering. If you happen to have any extra time, spend it on activities for your super fans, do things that will make your key stakeholders happy.

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6. Directly ask for your promotion

You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

As Wayne Gretzky, the ice-hockey Hall of Famer said:

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.”

Make sure you ask for your promotion. After spending the time and energy executing on the first 5-steps, now is not the time to be unclear.

When your promotion discussion comes up or a new job becomes available, let all your key stakeholders know:

  1. You want it.
  2. How they can help you or advocate for you.

Too many people don't get promotions and the attached pay rises simply because they don't ask or ask at the wrong time (more on that next).

Actionable Step 6: Make sure you are very clear and direct in asking for your promotion. Be specific in what you want so there is no confusion and no potential for misunderstandings.

7. Get the timing right

This is my bonus tip, a super important step that trips most people up.

It’s so obvious, but so easy to miss. Here it is: companies set their plans and budgets ahead of time. Usually 3-months in advance. Your new title, job level and pay has to be included in this process while it is being completed. It’s hard to do it in retrospect.

I’ll say it again.

If your promotion and pay rise is not accounted for in the plan and budget, which is set three-months in advance of your promotion date, you are unlikely to get it.

Actionable Step 7: Understand your company's planning and budgeting cycle and timelines, make sure that you ask for your promotion before or during this process so that your promotion and pay rise is accounted for in the required plans and budgets. It’s a game changer.

Final Thoughts

I wish I had this post when I was starting out.

If I had this advice at the start of my career I would have a very different career trajectory and vastly higher lifetime earnings. I’ve now seen it first hand, small gains early in your career compound into really big gains later in your career.

If all else fails and you take one thing from this post, let it be this. Asking for a promotion and pay rise is a lot easier when you generate 10x the value you are asking for. Simply operate under this principle and you’ll go far.

The modern workplace is a cut throat environment. To make it you need to be on top of your game. You need all your actions to be as impactful as possible. If you want to find ways to 10x your impact, you should sign up for free and I’ll show you how.

I have interviewed 500+ professionals, surveyed thousands more, and I am always probing for their best tips, tricks and hacks to get ahead. There are five that stand out above the rest and you can get them right now by joining my free email list. You won’t find these ideas anywhere else.