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



Chris Norris

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