Similar questions have been asked, but none seem to be exactly what I'm looking for.

I'm looking to move into management or similar in the relatively near future. My current position does not include any real supervisory responsibilities, but the next step involves a bit of a leap in that regard.

A past employer took advantage of me for taking on additional responsibilities to prove myself: after successfully performing them for several months, I inquired about an open position I wanted to move into. I was flat out told that they were not going to pay me more to keep doing what I already was doing, even though the open position paid more with just a minor increase in total responsibility.

In my present job I'm at that point again where I want to ask for some things to prove I'm ready for that next step, but I am not sure how to find the balance of proving myself vs being taken advantage of. All new tasks I've taken on that have been slightly outside the description have now become just another part of my responsibilities. I only have so much capacity (all of the "normal" duties plus everything I've added), but don't want to stay at this level, either.

My thought is to try to find "one-off" projects I could do, but most of those in this field repeat at some point....and thus far, that repeat has just become my duty, not something "new" I had taken on.

I could use some advice on how to draw that line BEFORE I feel like I'm being taken advantage of...while still proving that I am worthy of the promotion!

  • 1
    not sure how to find the balance of proving myself vs being taken advantage of. Hmm, these are mutually exclusive May 15, 2015 at 18:16
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    Ask your manager what s/he needs to see you doing in order to consider you for promotion -- and hope you have a clueful manager. Or ask those at levels higher than yours what they think the company wants -- mentoring of that sort can sometimes be very useful.
    – keshlam
    May 15, 2015 at 18:27
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    Agree with keshlam. What happened before is you made an assumption about what was available, when it wasn't. Don't make that mistake again. A discussion of how you can be promoted with your manager is necessary. Also, I would not assume that equates with doing more work.
    – Bowen
    May 15, 2015 at 18:37

3 Answers 3

  1. Don't work as hard as your current position requires, but work as hard as your desired position would require

  2. Don't work thinking in how much do you earn,but thinking in how much do you want to earn

  3. If in 3 years you have not get the promotion, you'd better go to work for a different company


In these circumstances, direct communication with your manager is the best approach. Research the exact job description and list of responsibilities, in order to know what is first expected of you in that position. Once you are knowledgable about the roles and responsibilities involved, you can begin to take up some of these responsibilities and set a lunch or meeting with your boss to discuss your potential promotion.

You should begin by explaining your interest in this position and why you think you are a suitable fit. This can often be related to your skills, your ambitions and your vision for what you intend to do if promoted. Next, should be the time where you highlight your plan for the coming months where you will take on specific roles and responsibilities, in order to allow your manager to assess your strengths and weaknesses in the new position. You should also highlight that your taking of the new roles, should help in reducing any friction that might occur with coworkers in your transition into the role. This is because people do not generally complain if you are given a title to the roles you've already been doing.

The strengths of this approach is that you put your boss on alert. This means that he understands why you are taking these roles on and that you will be expecting a decision. This does not protect you from him simply leading you on for a long time with no answer. It will however prevent you from your boss telling you that they don't intend to pay you more for doing what you've already been doing as he has been notified of your intentions.

I hope this helps address a few of your concerns


You are letting one bad experience limit your thinking. The company who denies you the ability to move up because they can pay you less for the same job is telling you they do not value your loyalty to the firm. This is not a good place to work. Having said that, there are limits to upward mobility in any organization, and you are wise to be thinking about strategy to increase your chances.

Most organizations have a heirarchy pyramid, which means that there are potentially many folks wanting to move up and relatively few places to move up to. The way to move up is generally just what you described - take on additional responsibilities, proving an increased value and suggesting future capabilities given the opportunity to grow.

If there is no growth path available, sometimes the way up is actually out and up - move to a different company into a higher position. It seems ludicrous that a company that doesn't know you might see your value more clearly than the company you are working for, but it happens a lot.

If you are truly invested in your company, then you should be explicit with management about it. Talk to your manager about your growth path within the organization. Start by expressing your interest in being with the company long-term, and inquire about what you might expect in the future and what you might need to do in order to increase your value to the company. Understand that these conversations do not imply promises on behalf of the organization, but if you want them thinking about a growth path for you, you need to introduce the subject.

While the additional responsibilities you take on may never be rewarded at your current employer, try not to think of the effort as wasted. Every responsibility you take on grows your resume and skill set, which may lead to open doors when you least expect it!

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