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How to Negotiate a Promotion if You Are a Key Employee

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If you're a top performer in your organization, you're probably a go- getter who's interested in expanding your career potential by moving through the ranks. While it seems like you should be a great candidate for an internal promotion, you may face resistance from the powers that be simply because you’re so valuable in your current position.

Stress Leadership Skills

If you're seeking an internal promotion in your current department, emphasize your leadership abilities and project management skills with your boss. You want him to recognize that your stellar performance makes you uniquely qualified to manage other employees in the same type of role. When you have your annual review or promotion interview, highlight your accomplishments, bring along positive performance evaluations, and express your enthusiasm for continuing to use your key skills, only at a higher level.

Talk About Career Plans

If you're a top performer in your organization, the company doesn't want to lose you. While you don't want to threaten to leave if you don't get a promotion, make your long-term career objectives clear. Savvy companies will find ways to keep you satisfied and help you develop your career internally than run the risk of losing you to a competitor. Stress your personal and professional objectives and highlight the ways in which the promotion will help you achieve some of those career goals.

Offer to Train

If you're seeking a promotion outside your current department, offer to train your replacement and be available for troubleshooting if issues arise after your transition. This establishes you as a gracious colleague with significant leadership and management potential. It also reassures internal interviewers and department managers of having you on hand and willing to provide transitional support for your previous role even while moving forward in a new position.

Interview Tips

Approach promotion negotiations just as you would a high-stakes interview with an unfamiliar employer. Sell yourself and your talents and abilities. Don't assume that just because the hiring manager is familiar with your work that he has all the information about your professional history and education. Use your own inside connections to learn about the specific responsibilities of the promotion you're in line for so you can talk about ways in which your experience will make you an asset in the role.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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