How I Asked For My First Promotion

I graduated college in May of 2015. Later that year, I moved down to Raleigh, North Carolina to begin my first job as a consultant.

I have had a few jobs since this one, but this was my first experience pursuing a promotion.


This post is all about how I asked for my first promotion.

How i asked for my first promotion


July 2015

To say I was eager to begin work was an understatement. In hindsight that feels so funny to say, but it’s true. I was so excited to finally be ~officially adulting~.

I was on my own, making more money than ever before, living in a new city I had yet to explore, and in my own apartment. This was truly a fresh, new chapter of my life and it felt like opportunity was everywhere.

From my very first day of work in July 2015, I hit the ground running. I asked a ton of questions and got to work immediately. I was (and still kind of am) very much a “rule follower” so whatever was asked of me, I did to the best of my ability.

A few months passed and I had been working on a variety of projects with one other girl who started at the company when I did.

We were consultants/business analysts so a lot of what we did involved understanding our client’s problems and then coming up with solutions for those problems.

We were new, of course, so we spent a lot of our time asking questions and working to understand our company’s product and how it could better help our client.


November 2015

One day in November of that year (so about 4 months into the job) we were in a conference room with our boss and they told us that we’d been doing such a great job that they’d like to see us promoted in 6 months.


“You’re doing so well, I’d like to see you promoted in 6 months.”


I was ecstatic. We talked about what we needed to keep doing to get that promotion, and I made sure to write it all down.

I can remember calling my mom that night to tell her the exciting news. I couldn’t believe just 4 months in to my very first job we were already having conversations about me getting a promotion!

To me, it was clear that my hard work was paying off, so I kept at it and then some. I continued to do what my boss wanted to see.

I was becoming more well-versed in our company’s product by the day, creating relationships with not only my team but our clients, and doing my best at whatever was asked of me.


how i asked for my first promotion


May 2016

6 more months had passed, and I was about to meet with my boss for a 1 on 1 meeting to discuss my performance.

In hindsight, I had no idea how promotions worked at this company or in general, but based on the work that I had put in the last 6 months and the conversations that we had back in November, I was fully prepared for my boss to tell me that I was getting promoted.

My 1 on 1 meeting with my boss went great. They sang my praises and told me I was doing a fabulous job, just as they expected I would. This felt awesome and again, like my hard work was paying off.

At this point, I anxiously waited for them to tell me that I was going to be promoted. Instead, they said the same phrase that I had heard just a few months prior:


“You’re doing so well, I’d like to see you promoted in 6 months.”


Not going to lie – I felt defeated. I was also very skeptical that the same few words said to me months ago were being said to me again – did my boss really mean what they were saying?

Do they even care about my career growth? Was this just a tactic to get me to keep working harder?

But then I thought to myself – what do I know? This is my first-ever job and maybe it’s just a coincidence.

I ultimately thought to myself, I knew getting promoted after less than a year sounded too good to be true. It’s fine. A promotion at 1.5 years will still be really awesome. I’ll keep working for it.

So that’s what I did. I asked my boss to tell me exactly what I needed to do to be promoted in another 6 months and then made sure to do those things.

Over the next 6 months, I asked to lead meetings with our clients. I was solving brand new problems and then presenting my findings to meeting rooms of 15+ people.

I was working on more documentation than I ever had and getting better and better at it all the time.

At this point, I really believed in the value that I was bringing to my company. I also knew my boss thought I was doing a great job all this time, so my confidence in my abilities was at an all time high.


first promotion


The Turning Point

One day at work I happened to stumble upon a company document that listed all of the roles in our company and the job duties associated with the roles.

I looked at my current role and read through the job duties. All of the job duties associated with my role were things that I was doing on a daily or weekly basis — it made sense.

Then, I looked at the job duties of the role above me (the one that I would have if I were promoted) and something interesting happened.

As I was reading the job duties, I also realized that I was doing every single one of those, too, and had been for more than a few months now.

I didn’t want to believe that my boss wasn’t looking out for me and that they didn’t care about my career progression, but I decided that I would go into my next 1 on 1 meeting prepared.

This time, if I wasn’t told that I was going to be promoted (or that it’ll be another 6 months), I was going to speak up.


how i asked for my first promotion


November 2016

In November, we went out for lunch for our 1 on 1 meeting. (By the way, we had many more 1 on 1 meetings than this but we happened to have a more formal one every 6 months).

Like usual, we chit-chatted, then got to discussing my performance over the past few months.

I was really happy to hear that my boss was still very pleased with my performance. According to them, I had been doing all the right things and making progress.

Of course there were some things that I could improve upon, but then came the words that I was all too familiar with:


“You’re doing so well, I’d like to see you promoted in 6 months.”


This time, though, I was more prepared.

I very respectfully told my boss that this was the third time they had said this very thing to me.

This was a bold move, but I believed so strongly that this was wrong – whether they realized they were doing it or not – and that I really did deserve this promotion.

I remained calm and respectful while I told them why I deserved this promotion. I explained everything that I had been working on and noted that I had executed on everything that they asked of me over the last year and a half.

I then brought up the chart that lists all roles and associated job duties/responsibilities at our company.

I explained how I was already doing all of the job duties of the role above me and that I had been for quite some time.

I ended by confidently telling my boss that I knew I would do a great job in the role if I were promoted.

Rarely in my career have I ever felt so strongly or passionately about my career progression, but I truly believed that I deserved this promotion.

And I believe that came through in my reasoning to my boss that day.

When they responded, they said they understood and that they would see what they could do.

At this point, I wasn’t promised anything. Really, my boss didn’t owe me much if anything at all, but I hoped they would try.

I was eventually promoted about 6 months later in July 2017. I’d like to believe that if I never spoke up for myself that day that I would still be promoted, but I’m not too sure that would’ve been the case.


Lessons Learned

There are a few valuable lessons that I learned through this experience:


1. It’s Best Not to Assume

Unfortunately, just because your boss or someone of authority tells you something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they mean it, are going to act on it, or that you are going to get it.

In a perfect world, people only say what they mean, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case!


2. Find Out When Your Company’s Promotion Cycles Are

Most companies don’t just promote their employees whenever they feel like it. Companies typically have “promotion cycles” or certain times of the year when they award promotions throughout the company.

This can happen quarterly, twice or once a year – it really depends on the company.

Had I known when my company’s promotion cycle was (which I believe was in July and in July only), I probably could’ve inferred that I wasn’t going to get a promotion around November, which would’ve saved me from getting my hopes up and then ultimately being let down.


3. Let Your Boss Know You’re Interested in a Promotion, Then Ask What You Need to Do to Get It

If you want a promotion at some point, you should firstly let your boss know that you are interested in pursuing one so that they are aware, and then ask them what you need to do to get there.

Otherwise, you could be aimlessly doing what you think it takes to get that promotion.

This is risky because if you’re wrong, and you’re not doing what they want to see, you’ll end up wasting your time and exerting a lot of unnecessary effort.

There are companies that will award their employees with promotions without their employees ever having to mention it or ask for one, but that’s never been the case for me in my professional experience (that’d be nice if it was that way, though!).

It’s best to make your career pursuits known.


4. Don’t Be Afraid to (Respectfully) Speak Up For Yourself

No one is going to care about your career as much as you, so you may have to speak up for yourself from time to time. Just make sure you do it in a respectful way.

No one owes you anything, but as the old saying goes, you’ll catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.


This post was all about how I asked for my first promotion.


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A few years after graduating college, Taylor made it her mission to become debt free. After paying off all $60k of debt, she began to blog about what she's really passionate about: personal development. Nowadays, Taylor blogs about the topics of Mindset, Money, Health, and Career for women. Read more about Taylor here.

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