I am a (somewhat) recently promoted mid-level software developer at a large retailer. Some time before my promotion, a departmental restructuring along with some turnover has left us short-staffed, with me doing what I would consider "senior" level work within the context of my company. Due to need, I have been thrust into this role even several months ago when I was at a "junior" level, and have been taking it (I think) in stride. I feel my responsibilities are beyond the expectations of colleagues/friends of mine at the same level.

The thing is, HR has made it clear (in company-wide emails) that associates of my level are still subject to the traditional promotion timeline, which would only see me advancing at in early 2017.

Would it even be worth bringing up a promotion to my boss? And if so, how could I suggest circumventing the normal timeline? Could I just be misjudging my own worth?

Any input is appreciated.

  • 7
    You'd most likely be able to sell this to another company easier than your own, unfortunately. Jul 24, 2015 at 17:32
  • What Lawrence said. If you are doing senior level work (how are you determining this btw?) then you should be paid and titled at that. You should calmly ask your boss for a promotion and if he points you to the 'procedure' show and tell him the examples of the work you are doing and that you need your pay and title to match it.
    – user37925
    Jul 24, 2015 at 18:12
  • @BinaryBazooka My best determination is in comparison to what I'm aware others in my team / department are doing or have done in the past. Most are just doing programming/maintenance, where as I am doing that along with being the lead on multiple simultaneous projects, designing new systems on new platforms, and managing/being the point-of-contact for several consultants & other teams, and mentoring new members to our team.
    – lase
    Jul 24, 2015 at 18:29
  • @lase when you say 'designing' are you the one also programming them?
    – user37925
    Jul 24, 2015 at 18:45
  • @BinaryBazooka Paritally. In the larger of two projects that I'm leading, I laid out the structure, chose libraries/technologies, and in general made all of the major decisions on the architecture of the application(s). I have also gone back and programmed a few of the more "business critical" things that I wouldn't trust to some of the less experienced developers - but in general I am doing code reviews and keeping the other developers on task. I suppose I should also note that my boss has also had me start leading the technical interviews for new consultants.
    – lase
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:01

3 Answers 3


Would it even be worth bringing up a promotion to my boss?

It might.

During a one-on-one meeting with your boss, you might talk about the senior-level work you have already been doing. And you might ask what you would need to do in order to get promoted.

You boss may have some ideas to increase your readiness. He may indicate that it is too soon since your recent promotion. Or he may have other suggestions.

And if so, how could I suggest circumventing the normal timeline?

If your boss echos the same timeline you heard from HR, you could ask "Is that a policy? Are there ways to get promoted sooner here than the timeline would indicate?"

Then, be guided by how your boss responds. You might find that you are asking too soon. You might find that he isn't willing to step outside the box here. Or you might find that he has some ideas on what would make you eligible for another promotion in spite of the timeline.

Could I just be misjudging my own worth?

Yes, of course you could - that wouldn't be unusual. But the discussion with your boss should help you see his point of view, and to judge it against your own.

  • 2
    Always a useful question: "What do I need to do, or do more of, to qualify for promotion?"
    – keshlam
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:06
  • 1
    I took this tact (more or less), and ended up meeting with my boss, his boss, his boss's boss, and our HR rep over the course of several months. Didn't get a promotion (it appears jumping the HR timeline is a no-go), but my concerns were validated and I was given a substantial raise. Thanks for your input Joe.
    – lase
    Mar 22, 2016 at 16:05

Don't suggest how to circumvent the timeline. Let that be your boss's problem.

Tell him straight up you feel you are doing senior level work and give him examples. Ask him if he agrees that you are doing senior level work. If he says no then ask for examples - in a non threatening way.

Once (if) you get him to agree you are doing senior level work then ask do you agree that I should have the position/title and the pay that goes with it?

If he says that is an HR policy tell him you do not agree and you feel it is not fair. It is not reasonable for me to wait two years to be promoted to the job I am doing today. You don't have to threaten to leave. Make it clear you are not satisfied with that.


What you're doing is nice stuff to put on your resume, and the stuff shows that you are not just any junior programmer. If you just started what you are doing, I don't see you as deserving of promotion until you have proved yourself say over one year. If you keep pulling the responsibilities you are pulling, then you probably have enough of a track record after one year to start looking for greener pastures. At least, that's what I think.

In the meantime, keep piling up the significant responsibilities. If your own company does not have in it to appreciate what you are doing, then some prospective employer will. But you need to put in enough time to build the credibility. More than anything, prospective employers want to see a consistent record of high performance.

  • Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that I should be promoted next week, but rather that over 1.5 years was too long
    – lase
    Jul 24, 2015 at 22:49
  • And what time frame do you have in mind, 1.5 months? Jul 24, 2015 at 22:53
  • I was thinking 6 to 8.
    – lase
    Jul 24, 2015 at 22:54
  • You can put that to the test in 6 to 8 months by going for a senior job with some prospective employer. It's purely my opinion but 6 to 8 months means nothing to me. So far as I am concerned, you haven't been doing this long enough to get yourself into some kind of real trouble - and get out of it in one piece by using your wits. Jul 24, 2015 at 22:56
  • Certainly. I should also note, that this wouldn't put me at the top of our developer ladder, and perhaps senior is a misnomer, but is rather the next step in a predefined progression. While there's no doubt I have a lot to learn, my main goal is to play up the fact that I have been performing the job of someone my senior.
    – lase
    Jul 24, 2015 at 23:03

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