Are you too scared to ask for a promotion? Read this

Journalist Colette Sexton on why asking for a promotion is important.  

Do you want a promotion but you’re afraid to ask? You are missing a trick. Asking for a promotion can be an uncomfortable and intimidating task but is an essential step to reach the next rung of the ladder, according to Maureen Lynch, a director at recruitment firm Hays Ireland.

According to the Hays Ireland 2018 Salary and Recruitment Trends Guide, 58 per cent of employees are not satisfied with their salaries. Out of the 40 per cent that asked for a promotion, most of them received it (57.5 per cent).

“This suggests that employees may be overly hesitant or unaware of when is the best time to ask for a promotion,” Maureen said.


While some people might think they need to “do their time” in order to be promoted, generally there isn’t a set timeframe for career progression, according to Maureen, who said that promotions should be value-based instead of time-based.

“By matching your ambition with a realistic view of what you need to achieve, you will immediately strengthen your chances of achieving your career goals,” she said.

Related: When you work in media but are crap at self-promotion

Convincing the boss

However, there is more to getting a promotion than simply feeling ready for one — an employee must be able to convince their boss, too.

“Employees must be able to articulate their contributions to the business before asking for a promotion,” she said. “Employees should map out a potential career path with their line-manager and then work toward demonstrating their abilities by mastering their current position.”

A good relationship with their line manager will also help their case, she said, but it really comes down to making a compelling business case for the promotion.


By asking, the worst that can happen is that your boss will say no.

“Handling rejection with grace is a big part of being a professional. Sometimes the reasons behind a rejection could be entirely out of one’s control,” Maureen said.

Most organisations will have a clear career progression policy in place that outlines what is required to be considered promotion-ready, she said. Line managers will likely identify skills gaps that an employee needs to overcome in order to qualify for a promotion. Using the feedback, employees should then chart a roadmap outlining the short-term goals that will strengthen their case for promotion next time around. Don’t forget to record all progress toward this end.

Maureen also advised getting a mentor, as she said they can be of great value when trying to reach that next career level. The mentor should not be your boss, but instead someone credible and senior within the industry.


  • Hit me up: I missed out on a promotion and I've started stealing things from
  • Do you know what your career objective? Here's why you
  • Books you should read if you're thinking about a career

The image newsletter