I’ve spoken with my manager about promotion because, I believe, I make the grade and “don’t ask, don’t get!” He’s generally supportive of this and spoke with, amongst others, HR to discuss the process. What they came back with strikes me as odd:

  1. My manager must make a business case for the promoted role to exist, within the team.
  2. The promoted role must then be advertised (internally), available to everyone to apply.

I’m familiar with this process in the context of horizontal movement within an organisation. However, for vertical movement — within the same job class (i.e., senior to principal, with no management responsibilities) — it seems strange.

Both points cause my manager (and others) a lot of work; putting together a business case and then the expensive process of, essentially, recruiting (albeit internally). He’s not against doing this — for which, I’m grateful — but, quite understandably, it’s something he’d rather avoid. I feel, if this goes ahead, I’d be somewhat in his thrall.

The second point is apparently done on the pretext of fairness. I don’t buy this point at all: people are either worthy of promotion or they aren’t; the fact that someone else within the organisation could gazump your bid feels, actually, unfair. Moreover, it would require me to go through a recruitment process; with the work of application writing, interviewing, etc. I’m not against this, but I feel promotion should be awarded on the basis of demonstrable ability. If I have to go through the entire rigmarole of recruitment, I might as well try other organisations that may be more attractive.

To be clear, I realise that I’d have little (but not necessarily zero) competition, so the risk of gazumping is low. However, does that not just make the process a bit of a sham, wasting a lot of people’s time? There’s something not right about this and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

EDIT I should add that the timescales for all this are completely undefined. I have been told that, at a minimum, my manager would apply for a mid-year pay bump (but not promotion) next year. This is partially because of the pandemic, but it nonetheless feels like I’m being strung along.

  • Amazon or affiliated?
    – user38290
    Oct 3, 2020 at 15:39
  • 3
    The procedure should ensure that managers do not just bump up their buddies without checks and balances. It is messy and unpleasant, but unfortunately "old boy's clubs" do exist and have taken advantage of informal promotion mechanisms. Can't say I like it, but I have no better suggestion how to mitigate that Oct 3, 2020 at 17:29
  • @CaptainEmacs That’s a good point; I hadn’t considered that.
    – user67054
    Oct 3, 2020 at 17:34
  • What level of promotion are we talking about? If, for example, you wish to become a team lead, there has to be team that's in need of someone leading them (either because someone is leaving or by restructuring the organisation). Once such a high-profile position becomes available, it makes sense (and might even be legally required) to take the official route of internal recruitment.
    – Llewellyn
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:54
  • What are you being promoted from and to?
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 3, 2020 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


Is this promotion process unusual?

Maybe. If you're already in the highest (non-managerial) role that currently exists in the department, it would make sense that there could be some major HR hoops to jump through to justify creating a new position so that you can get a promotion. If that's not the case and you're simply moving from, say, junior to senior then yes, it does seem a bit odd.

Odd isn't necessarily bad, though. There's often a great deal of work required on the manager's side to justify a promotion to the business and giving others an opportunity to apply could be an honest attempt to avoid favoritism.


Yes, your promotion process is quite unusual, but hang on.

This looks to me a bit of a forced promotion, when people that are responsible for promotion don't think you can make it, so they create something (or act up on some process in the company), to see whether you're fit.

Promotion is more about your individual performance, meeting goals and helping a team, than a creating a role and advertising it internally. If the latter would be the case majority of times, promotion would be just a new job search and not decided per individual basis.

Some tricks and tips that could help to see if this is unusual:

  • Try to compare your experience vs others, are there are examples of similar promotion process in this company? You could ask some colleagues that you trust.
  • If you were already promoted to a position X in your company, what was the process?
  • What are your experiences regarding promotion in general?
  • These are great ideas; thank you :)
    – user67054
    Oct 3, 2020 at 17:21

Let's look at this from another perspective: let's say you working on a team, you're working well above what's expected of your current level and have been for a while. However, there isn't a need for another senior member of this team. Also maybe you're a bit of a quieter type, not so prepared to blow your own trumpet. Maybe also your manager isn't so supportive of your promotion as they could be.

At this point, your only option if you want a promotion is to move to another company, which seems a bit silly because just over there in the adjacent team to yours, there's a vacancy for a senior member. But they gave that role to someone who was already on the team without even considering you, even though you would have applied for the role had it been advertised internally.

Is that fair?

  • 1
    Point taken, but that implies that for a promotion to happen, the need for the role must exist. I can understand and accept that, but surely from an employer’s perspective, it would then make sense for them to limit these opportunities (to reduce cost). All the while, presumably a staff’s experience/“promotability” will always increase, thus creating an imbalance. If an employer doesn’t want to lose its most experienced staff, its promotion procedure ought to reflect that.
    – user67054
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:13

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