I have been working for close to 4 years in my current position, and little by little my responsibilities and workload have increased, and still do. Unfortunately I have been denied promotion three times at our annual performance reviews, despite displaying strong cases for promotion and proof of my added work.

In this company, the only way to get a raise is through promotion to the next grade. The company is consistently showing positive results and good profitability, so it should not be about a tight budget.

Is there something else I can do in addition to displaying proof of the extra responsibilities, increased workload, and positive comments from our clients in order to get a promotion?

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    You've made your point. Now, introduce some competition for your talent and services into the mix and let's see how they react to an offer to you from another employer. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 11:13
  • @JoeStrazzere: Twice he has looked through the list, but made no comment on them. He has given a few "goals" for the year, but they have seemed more like extra add-on work than valid criteria for promotion. For example "Increase your visibility to the client" (while I already work part time on-site at the client!), or "Work on more billable tasks" (which I already do, almost 70 % of the week, through the added workload, and the rest is fixed price necessary work). Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 12:37
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    @JuhaUntinen I am getting the impression that your boss is leading you on after 4 years. If I had to deal with your boss, my patience with this loser would just have about run out. Get yourself another job, and fire this boss. However, as a matter of due diligence and only as a matter of due diligence, ask your boss if there is anything critical that your boss expected you to do and that you are not doing. If your boss mumbles, he just bought the farm as far as you are concerned. If he has a specific and valid objection, meet his objection but that's just about their last chance to keep you. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 13:53

2 Answers 2


You need to ask your boss what you need to do to get the promotion you want. Be direct about it. Do not do it as part of your review, and do not make a case about why you deserve the promotion (your boss obviously disagrees). Find out what has to change, and then do those things.

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    If your boss is cagey, vague, or elusive in response then your boss is probably taking advantage of you. I'm not one to drag in an outside offer to force the point, but that is an option. If it comes down to that I typically just take the other offer. (my personal experience when you play the outside offer card it helps short term, hurts long term.) Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 15:36
  • @RualStorge It's also entirely possible that the boss is avoiding answering the question because the answer is "Nothing". If he doesn't think you're capable of succeeding in the higher position, you'll never get the promotion. If that's the case, then moving on is the only option. I don't consider that being taken advantage of - you're just in a dead-end job. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 18:33
  • @MattBelanger this is true. ultimately the coarse of action is the same though. If they won't give you a clear path, they probably have no intentions of offering the promotion, advancement opportunities are nill, and he state no raises without advancement than that means it's time leave. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 20:37

You should certainly ask some combination of your boss, the HR department, and other managers you know, how promotions are determined.

It really depends on the organization. In some places the correct thing to do with an expanded role would be (with your boss's co-operation) to create an updated job description and take this to HR (or whoever else has authority) to be re-graded.

If the new grade is higher than the grade for your original JD from 4 years ago, bang, you're promoted. If it's not, then you've discovered that your additional responsibilities don't (yet) add up to the responsibilities of someone at a higher grade than you.

Naturally not every organization has a process this formal. But perhaps the company does have common standards for what constitutes the higher grade, in which case you need to find them and demonstrate that you've achieved them. Alternatively you might find them and discover that you haven't achieved all of them, in which case you need to work with your boss to modify your role to cover the ones you've missed.

Some organizations (especially small ones) might not have much formal definition of different grades at all, in which case it's pretty much between you and your boss to plan a route to promotion.

Finally, you could sidestep the whole business by applying internally for a post with a higher grade. Your organization doesn't necessarily offer a smooth career path with your role gradually passing through the grades. Rather, you might be expected to take a series of one- or two-grade steps through different roles. Again though, it's useful to involve your boss since he can help prepare you for different roles.

It's possible that your boss doesn't want you to be promoted, in which case you have a problem. If he won't answer the question "what should I do to get promoted", or won't help you negotiate the process, then for whatever reason he wants you stuck where you are. There might be someone else in the organization you can go to for help. But ultimately if you think you're ready for promotion and the organization thinks you're not, then the only way to really prove them wrong is to get a more senior job elsewhere. Assuming that you otherwise like your current employer, the trick is to establish what your options are short of leaving. Once you've exhausted them, you may discover that you're simply more ambitious than your employer allows for.

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