This is your chance to make your case in writing so your manager can ciruclate it in your own words. You'll make your case better than anyone else will.
The best way to prepare your case for a promotion is to write it down. As it turns out, you’ll also want to have a written summary of why you deserve your promotion later on when you ask for a promotion, so we’re going to kill two birds with one stone in this section by building an email that summarizes your case.
Here’s what your case for a promotion will look like once you’ve written it down. I’ve numbered each section in brackets so we can talk about it afterward.
[1. Address] To: [Your manager]
[2. Subject] Subject: [Your name] promotion discussion—follow-up
[3. Greeting] Hi [Your manager's name]
[4. Introduction and request] Thanks for your time the other day. As I mentioned in our conversation, I would like to be considered for a promotion to [target job title].
[5. Accomplishments Intro] I’ve been working very hard to prepare for this opportunity, and I think I am ready. Here are some of my accomplishments over the past several months:
[7. Accolades Intro] And here is some feedback I’ve received from clients and coworkers over the past several months—their feedback speaks louder than anything I could say:
[9. Conclusion and repeated request] I believe the accomplishments and feedback above show that I am ready for this move, and for greater responsibility and compensation. I look forward to hearing what else you need from me to help make this happen.
[10. Signoff and signature] Thanks again for your time and consideration!
All the best
Now, all you need to do is go through the template and replace anything in bold with the appropriate piece of information. This should be pretty easy because you’ve already done all the hard work. Feel free to edit this email to make it your own. This is just a template to get you started and show you the bare necessities you should include to make this as useful as possible.
Let’s go section by section to build your email and make your case.
You’re writing this to your manager or whoever you will speak to about your promotion.
Make sure you include your name in the subject, and make it clear exactly what this email is about.
Keep it short and sweet: “Hi Tina” will do. The bolded part is “Your manager’s name” because I’m assuming you’ll send this written request to your manager. If you’re sending it to someone different, you’ll want to change that to their name.
4. Introduction and request
Cut right to the chase and make it brief. Be as specific as possible about which job you’re pursuing.
You’ll note that the example refers to a conversation that has already happened (“Thanks for your time the other day.”). That’s because you won’t send this email cold—it will be a follow-up to a verbal conversation if at all possible (learn more about how to present your case).
5. & 6. Accomplishments sections
Lay out your case as succinctly as possible. You should list no more than five accomplishments, so be sure to pick your strongest ones. This email isn’t a complete historical record of everything you’ve ever done for the company. This is a skimmable document that makes a strong case for whoever is holding the purse strings to give you a promotion. You want the person reading this to think, “It looks like he’s already doing this. Why haven’t we already promoted him?”
One of the benefits of preparing your case ahead of time is that you can be confident that your case is strong before you present it. If you have trouble with this section, that’s a red flag that your case may not be as strong as you anticipated, and you may not be ready to ask for this promotion. This isn’t an ironclad rule, but I recommend covering a reasonable amount of time (several weeks or a few months) in this section so that your case is as compelling as possible when you present it.
7. & 8. Accolades sections
Again, this should be brief, but should highlight your best results from the past six months to a year. This isn’t a complete record, it’s a skimmable list that should raise eyebrows when others see it. Remember that the person approving a promotion may not know who you are, so you’re giving them a short summary of your accolades to let them know that they should be impressed with you because other people are impressed with you.
This section is less crucial than the “Accomplishments” section, but it really helps. If you have trouble completing this part, you may still move forward with your request, or you may not. Some jobs are very solitary and simply don’t garner accolades from clients or peers. I strongly recommend you have at least a couple items in this section before you present your case, but if your “Accomplishments” section makes a very strong case on its own, this section may not be necessary.
9. Conclusion and repeated request
State your request and make your case again as concisely as possible. No more than two or three sentences.
10. Signoff and signature
Thank your manager for her time and keep it brief.
Everything has now come together so that you know what you’re pursuing, and you have a written case that summarizes why you should be promoted. This should help clarify your own objectives, and it will provide a handy reference for you as you present your case.
I'm Josh Doody, a professional salary negotiation coach who helps High Earners negotiate their job offers. On average, High Earners improve their first-year compensation by $47,273 with my help.
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