How To Get A Promotion

Chris Norris
2 min readApr 13, 2022

Here are my ‘must do’ steps to be on a solid path towards a promotion

  1. Understand — understand what the next level requires in your company — refer to your company’s career ladder definitions. Every company is different, so don’t make assumptions based on a title what the expectations are — i.e. ‘Senior Engineer’ expectations are different in different companies
  2. Communicate — explicitly communicate to your manager that a promotion is important to you. In most circumstances the only person that matters in you being put up for a promotion is your direct manager
  3. Plan — With your manager, do an assessment of where you are against the career ladder definition of the next level, and put together a plan to address the gaps. You are both trying to build a portfolio of examples of how you are operating at that level that your manager can provide to advocate for promotion
  4. Drive — You should be the one driving the plan to success :
  • reviewing the list to ensure you’re taking action
  • holding regular check-ins with your manager to show progress (no less frequently than once per quarter)
  • asking for honest feedback on whether you are on track to achieve the goals
  • asking for help or support on areas that you are not getting traction on
  • adjusting the plan, if needed

Hard Truths about Promotions

  • Promotions do not come with the passing of time — if you are not invested in, and driving towards, the promotion plan, it is probably not going to materialize.
  • Promotions typically happen on cycles — maybe yearly, sometimes more frequently. There are often ‘out of cycle’ processes if someone is truly mis-levelled
  • Sometimes the number of promotions across the company in a given cycle is limited by available budget; you need to make sure your manager is strongly advocating for you
  • Some company’s promo processes involves a Promotion Committee who you may not get to talk to. The committee’s aim is to ensure fairness and equitable treatment but can rely purely on the written case for promotion

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Chris Norris

Engineering leader for startups — 4 exits and counting. Fascinated with startups, software, and the people around them. Founder at startupfractionalcto.com