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How To Ask For A Promotion Now — Yes, In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Arielle Lapiano  |  January 1, 2021

Did you work your tail off in 2020?  If so, it might be time to ask for a promotion for 2021. Here's how to make it happen.

Asking for a promotion in the middle of the pandemic might feel like a career no-no, but there are numerous reasons why you may deserve (and can get) a promotion right now. Because if you’re still employed, chances are you’ve been working harder than ever these last 10 months. Here’s a look at how you can propel your career, even during the pandemic.

“The pandemic is not here to give you an excuse to hide in your career,” says Ashley Stahl, career expert with SoFi. “While it may feel awkward to bring up your growth during such an uncertain time, it’s important to keep communication open with your employer about your career growth, coming from a place of curiosity of what it would take for you to get to your next level and add extraordinary value for them,” she adds.

Here are some tips on how to ask for—and land—a promotion.


You don’t get what you don’t ask for, Lauren Kester, career coach says. “There is a lot of negative noise out there about how bad the job market is and how it may not be a good time for a job change. First step: believe that getting a promotion is possible. It is,” she says.

Kester explains that people are getting new jobs and promotions. However, in keeping with the trends of the “she-cession,” the majority of the promotions are going to men.

Indeed, a recent study by software company Qualtrics and theBoardlist, found that 34% of men working remotely with children at home said they received a promotion, compared to 9% of women in the same boat. If more women believe that they deserve a boost, maybe the gap will narrow. Keeping it positive may be part of the solution. “When you start with a positive growth-oriented mindset, making ‘the ask’ will flow much more easily,” says Kester.


“Before you ask [for a promotion], do your homework,” suggests human resources guru Laura Handrick. For instance, she recommends researching the salary ranges for your position in your geographic area for someone with similar experience.

Explain “the financial value you bring to the company,” advises Kara Loewentheil, master certified coach and host of the podcast UnF*ck Your Brain. She suggests explaining how you are contributing to the business’ revenue goals and bottom line. “Pandemic or not, this is the best way … to show up confident and negotiate clearly for what you want,” says Loewentheil.

If you’re in a profession where it is harder to quantify your financial contributions there are still things you can do to showcase your value. Keep a “log of your professional wins for a few weeks,” suggests Akhila Satish, career coach, and CEO of Meseekna. Satish recommends to have clear, measurable facts and proof points for why you deserve a raise.


An ideal conversation about a promotion is not only about what you have done, but what you can do for the company. Stahl suggests getting clear on ideas for future projects, action plans, and additional areas where you can help.

Get creative about new responsibilities you can take on which will add value. Start with anything from smaller ideas that take the weight off your boss, to bigger ideas that can boost the bottom line. All of them will help strengthen your case.


After you’ve done your homework, the next step is to carefully plan your conversation. “Come from sensitivity when asking for this conversation, because no one wants to give a raise or increase in responsibility to someone who is too focused on themselves,” says Stahl. “Remember, it’s about what you can do for the company, not the other way around!” 

You also need to be, “smart and reflective of what is going on currently in your industry, as well as in your specific organization,” says Loewentheil.  It’s essential to add an, “observation about the timing being very sensitive right now,” explains Ben Lamarch, a general manager with Lock Search Group. “If your company is struggling, be sure to mention how awkward it can be to ask for advice about getting a promotion when others have perhaps been laid off or forced into retirement. Whatever the situation is where you work, be sensitive to it and be upfront about it. Don’t skirt the issue, but also don’t miss an opportunity to see how the role you’ve played during this critical time may have proven your worth in a new way,” he adds.

Finally, after some practicing, “present your request respectfully with no whining or emotions,” suggests Handrick.

So many people are working their tails off now to help their companies creatively navigate tough times. If you are one of them, research, plan and have a conversation with your boss to land that well-deserved promotion.

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