is it time for me to ask for a promotion?

A reader writes:

I’ve been in my job for 1.5 years. Most people in my department get promoted around 2-2.5 years. Because of the timing of reviews/promotions, if I was to get promoted this year, it would happen right before my 2-year mark. Speaking with other people at my level in my department (on different teams), they all seem to think it’s perfectly reasonable for me to get promoted this review cycle. Someone even said it would be BS if I wasn’t.

So how do I know if it’s time to ask?

For my first nine months, my team was just my boss and me. We were struggling just to get projects out and my boss was constantly telling me she wanted me to take on more work but the training kept getting pushed back because we were always putting out fires. We added 2 additional folks and I’ve been taking on much more work that’s allowed me to get a lot closer to where my boss wanted me to be. I would say right now I’m where she was wanting me to be 6 months ago. I’m happy with this progress and want to keep heading in this direction.

I don’t feel as if I’m at the point where I’m clearly doing a more senior job. I also get paid overtime so I’m being compensated for my extra hours. For people on other teams, a promotion is taking on a very clear set of new tasks and my job would probably just entail me taking on more of my bosses work.

I also know I have a bit of impostor syndrome so sometimes my thoughts can be off from reality. My boss really wants to help me advance, whether here or else where but I don’t want to go in asking for a promotion and having my boss think I’m way too premature in asking. We have check-ins and she is always pleased with my work but the word “promotion” has never been brought up.

I want to be realistic but also confident. How do I approach this?

In most organizations, two years would be way too early to feel that it’s BS if you didn’t get a promotion.

And in your office, you know that the norm is more like two or two and a half years, so it not happening just before the two-year mark definitely isn’t BS.

And you think you’re six months behind where your boss was hoping you’d be now.

All of this says that you should ignore the coworkers who are telling you that you should be promoted soon.

If you’re unsure, you could ask them to expand more specifically on why they think that. But based on what you’ve said here, it makes sense to give it more time.

It’s also helpful to realize that, at least in most organizations, promotions aren’t something that should be so closely tied to the amount of time that’s gone by. They’re about moving you into a role with work that’s higher-level than your current role, and that usually happens after you’ve had a sustained period of performing at a higher level than what’s typical for your current position. There are some employers that do it differently (for example, promoting on fairly rigid timelines), but in general it’s not sound to expect that a certain number of months of employment translates into a promotion.

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. Morning Glory*

    I don’t think it would change the advice, but it sounds like the OP is talking about asking to get a promotion a few months from now – just shy of her two-year mark – not right now, at 1.5 years.

    1. Thlayli*

      Yes it seems to me the letter describes a fixed time promotion cycle where she will either be promoted right before her 2-year workiversary or have to wait till her 3 year workiversary,

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. I’m saying she shouldn’t expect it this cycle, based on the circumstances she’s described in the letter. It sounds like she’s on a good trajectory, just not an “about to get promoted” trajectory.

  2. Cat*

    I read the comment about six months ago as saying that she’s met the goals her boss set for her six months ago. But it is ambiguous.

    1. designbot*

      In the context of the OP mentioning that she has a bit of imposter syndrome, I wonder if she internalized the goals her boss was setting as “I should be doing this already!” when her boss may have just meant, “this is what I see as the next step for you.” It’s definitely hard to tell, but I’d encourage the OP to examine why she feels this way and what her boss may have meant at that time.

  3. MsCHX*

    Echoing all that AAM said. And will that when you do feel like you are ready to ask for a promotion, have some tangible results/accomplishments. Being there for 2 years isn’t reason in itself.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Results, results, results. That’s what employers care about. If you are behind the curve on where you’re supposed to be then don’t think about a promotion. It isn’t about how much time has passed, but what you have accomplished that counts.
      You should demonstrate that you can handle the job at the next level. Since you are still catching up on your current job, you boss can make a fairly strong argument that you are not where you should be to get promoted.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I sort of wonder if the employer might have some unrealistic expectations of the OP. It really sounds like she’s working hard and making progress, although not as much as her employers would like.

        I also wonder about the OP’s upcoming evaluation. If she doesn’t get a promotion, I would hope that her boss and employers recognize her hard work with more than the standard 3 to 4% raise.

      2. Koko*

        Yes, merit raises are rewards for doing a good job. A promotion is a recognition that you are or will be doing a *different* job now, which is more advanced than the previous one.

        You can be in a job for a number of years kicking ass at it, and that would (hopefully) earn you merit raises (at least to a point where you probably max out), but it won’t get you a promotion unless you’re going to move into higher-level work.

  4. DataQueen*

    OP, try not to judge your progress on others. If others in your role get promoted in 2-2.5 years, that doesn’t mean you should. Because if you’re a superstar, you should be promoted now, and if you’re not, you shouldn’t get a promotion just for having done the time.

    Talk to your manager, and ask her about next steps. Tell her how much you enjoy the extra projects you get to complete when you aren’t doing the putting-out-fires stuff. Ask what kind of training would get you to role X. Volunteer to stay late and help her dig herself out of a fire. Put out a small fire without being told to. These things will show her that you are ready, or give her the opportunity to help you get ready.

    Also, don’t listen to peers about your career path. Listen to mentors, managers, and senior people you admire – their viewpoint will be much more accurate, and less likely to let you down.

    1. MillersSpring*

      +1 to speaking with your boss about your interest in moving up to role X and asking if you are on track and what else you could be doing to get there.

      1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        This is what I came to say.

        I had an employee who took a bit of time getting up to speed. Not a bad employee, just someone who took a little bit longer to hit his stride. We had a position open that he was not ready for open up right around his 2-year mark (it’s an entry level role, I consider any time after a year bonus time – and if they stay 3 years they are on my Christmas Card list).

        He came in and said, “I’m not applying for Lead Tea Pot Inspector, but I read the announcement and I find X, Y, and Z about the position interesting. How do I get ready for the next time it’s open?” It allowed for some great, open feedback discussions and since I knew he was interested, I was able to shift things around so he could learn new skills, and I kept my eyes open for appropriate PD.

        1. Red Reader*

          I did that a couple weeks ago – told my boss “hey, this is the kind of role I’d love to be prepared for in a year or two, any suggestions on how to best prepare myself for that?” – and it’s already gotten me added to a three-month special project team this summer to get me expanded experiences and visibility.

        2. Chaordic One*

          You sound exactly like the kind of Droid I’m Looking for. (I mean that as a compliment.)

          1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

            Thank you! I have a lot of great mentors who taught me the best way to look successful is to have successful employees :)

    2. Venus Supreme*

      I agree the “don’t listen to your peers” thing. I noticed that there’s always one or two coworkers who thrive on drama (consciously or subconsciously) and will put a bug in your ear to get things going. Always go with your gut and seek out trusted people– like AAM (like you did), and mentors outside that work bubble.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        Yes. That someone said it would be “BS” if OP didn’t get promoted (rather than just unusual or unexpected) suggests there may be drama llama or two in the midst.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is excellent, and in my experience accurate, advice. Especially not listening to the echo chamber and instead opening up communication with your manager. Managers like direct reports who are aspirational and willing to put in the hard work to do it. Getting to strategize with a good direct report about future professional development and career path/growth is honestly one of my favorite parts of the job.

  5. NW Mossy*

    I think instead of asking for a promotion, a better tactic might be to say to the boss “I’d really like to be considered for [role] in the future. Can we talk about the things you’d like to see me focus on to make me a strong candidate for promotion?”

    It achieves the important part (letting your boss know that you want a promotion) but tempers it with self-awareness and an acknowledgement that you may have additional work to do before you’re ready to move up. It doesn’t assume anything, and it gives you a great opportunity to get insight into the boss’s vision for what someone in that more senior role should be able to do.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, absolutely! There’s no reason you have to be silent about the fact that you’re interested in promotion and growth. It sounds like you’re looking very perceptively at your workplace overall, and that’s a good thing.

      1. NW Mossy*

        I’ve used this tactic myself to excellent effect, and now that I’m a boss too, I really appreciate it when my directs are candid about their goals. It helps me ensure I’m giving them the right kinds of stretch assignments to build their skills. It also makes doing succession planning for key roles much easier, which is catnip for bosses, who are charged with keeping the long-term health of their teams in mind.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yes! It is no fun to be the boss *or* the employee in the situation where the boss is grooming the employee for a promotion they don’t want – or not grooming them for one they do want, and have a reasonable chance of earning. (If they have no chance of earning it, that’s time for a hard discussion instead.)

        2. Elfie*

          Sure, but in my line of work, promotions are often ONLY into my manager’s position. How do you approach that conversation then? I’ve always found it excruciatingly difficult to even think about saying ‘I want your job’.

    2. Amber T*

      Yessss! OP, it sounds like you’re doing a lot, you’re handling a lot, and you’re on a great path. I think saying to your boss now “I want to be promoted to Role X” is a bit premature, but saying to your boss “I’d like to eventually move into Role X, what can I do?” (NW Mossy’s language is much better than mine.) If you approach it as “this is my goal” instead of “promote me,” I think you’ll get great help. If it sounds appropriate (you know your boss better than we do), you can even ask “if I hit goals X, Y, and Z (which you’ve just discussed), what do you think is a reasonable timeline?”

    3. Karenina*

      This is good advice. Talk about your future at the company, talk about the role/responsibilities you want to take on, and ask them what they’re looking for from you to get there. Then go and do those things, and keep a record of your success to talk about in your next review cycle.

      Side note/parable: I tried this at my last job. During my review, when my boss asked me about my goals, I mentioned the ways I would like to see my role expand and grow. Immediately she said no to everything, so I asked her if there was anything she + management were wanting to see from me that I wasn’t doing. The answer? “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” A few days later, her boss called me in to repeat the conversation. A few days after that, HIS boss called me in to have the same conversation a third time. They all seemed slightly panicked that I was even thinking about moving up or taking on more responsibility (in a company I’d worked for almost 5 years). When I finally got my completed review back, even though I hadn’t been the one instigating this conversation over and over, I was given the advice to “be gracious and take no for an answer”.

      My point is: make sure your manager actually gives you an answer. If they can’t or won’t, think about moving on. It’s not ridiculous for you to expect to be able to grow and advance in your job.

      1. Amber T*

        “Be gracious and take no for an answer.” Whattttt. I’m glad you said that was your previous job!

        I literally strongarmed my way into my promotion (not recommended, by the way, but luckily my boss, his boss, and HIS boss appreciated it after the fact).

      2. NW Mossy*

        That organization is….. dysfunctional. An organization is made of people, and if the people in it don’t grow in their capabilities, the organization doesn’t either. Organizations that remain static quickly find that they get eaten for lunch by other organizations that can and do grow. The idea of “we’re going to do X forever!” is the sort of thing that gets said right before obsolescence.

      3. PollyQ*

        I would still call that successful, given that you very definitely learned about your prospects for promotion. I assume that’s a big part of why it’s your last job, rather than your current one.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m so sorry, Karenina—your last job sounds dysfunctional, or at best, like a bad fit. It’s bizarre to me that they would go to such lengths to try to keep you in your place when you hadn’t said/done anything to indicate you intended to pursue it after your review. But I’m glad it came up, because can you imagine if you’d been stuck there for longer and then told “no, please stay in one role forever kthx”?

  6. Enginerd*

    I’ve found promotions can be very different at different companies. My previous employer you could pretty much expect to be promoted in place every year, assuming you were a new college grad and not hired in at a higher level, the promotions were about every 2-3 years after that until you reached a certain level. Most of these were promotions in place and usually meant you were doing more senior caliber work, not so much a change in scope. My current employer can get promoted twice in your career without having to make the transition into operations management. I’m in engineering so it’s not uncommon for many of us to prefer to remain in the technical work and not venture into management. I don’t think it’s too early to bring it up, but instead of asking for it I’d ask what you need to do to get it. Something along the lines of “I’m at level X and I’d like to start working towards a promotion to level Y. What skills do I need to focus on, or what responsibility do I need to assume to help me get there?”

    1. Tau*

      Yep. In my company, promotions happen on a strict schedule unless you’ve messed up, and there’s a long list of grades that don’t noticeably affect your job role. I’ve been promoted three times in the almost-two-years since starting and expect my next promotion around September. It doesn’t yet affect anything beyond my pay.

      1. Gadfly*

        Wish there had been something like that at OldJob. Instead we had one level and to move up was a new job.

    2. BananaPants*

      Yes. Entry level engineers here can expect a promotion right around the 2 year mark, very consistently. Typically the next promotion comes 4-6 years after that. The higher you go, the more variable that promotion timetable becomes.

      I was promoted two years ago and have exactly one more promotion available to me if I stay on a technical career path. I likely have another decade until that final promotion comes, so it’s not terribly motivating. Several peers and I were all promoted in the same year and we’ve all commented, “Well, there’s really nothing to look forward to or bust our tails for.” Even if one of us was to go absolutely bananas and come up with the next industry game-changer, we’d still be waiting ~10 years for a promotion.

  7. AthenaC*

    What if you were to ask your boss what promotion-ready you would look like? That should give you some direction as well as a sense of what the timing might look like.

  8. Workfromhome*

    Don’t ask for a promotion yet. As ABOUT what it takes, is expected etc. for a promotion. If you have regular check ins with your boss and have a good relationship it should be no issue.

    Rather than saying “Can I have a promotion?” you could say ” I’m coming up on 2 years can we talk about what a career/promotion path for me looks like? What do I need to work on to be considered for a promotion? Can we lay out goals and benchmarks so I can be sure to achieve them?

    That said I’m a bit jaded over that whole process. In my last job we were forced to go though a rather painful process with our managers where we HAD to pick a target for a future role (even if it was obvious there were no opportunities) , go though the criteria to be “qualified” for that role. then review this with our manager, HR and put a plan in place to get to “qualified” in any areas we were not there yet. I had already been with the company more than 8 years. I met every single one of the criteria to be promoted already (even to the point I was qualified in areas where the present person was not). For two years we did this only to hear “there is no opening right now keeping doing what your doing”. In year 3 they created a new position in that role, hired an external hire and did not even make it known this was happening. It wasn’t even a case of the external hire being more qualified they didn’t even give us the opportunity internally. The external hire was a disaster and was fired less than year in. Rather than now giving “qualified” candidates the opportunity to finally compete for the role they simply eliminated the role and dumped the responsibilities on existing staff who were “qualified” to do the duties. So lucky us we got to do the work but once again no possibility to be promoted .

    Point being that if you are looking at promotion its not only important to know what is required for a promotion but to have a good sense of when /if that opportunity would be available once you meet the requirements to be promoted. I do not subscribe to the be patient your time will come theory. You are either working towards a defined opportunity within your present employer or towards a promotion with ANIOTHER employer.

  9. Catalyst*

    Promotions at some companies aren’t as easy as after X number of years you get promoted. In my company we can only promote when someone leaves or we expand and need more people in that type of roll. You should take into consideration the circumstances under which people are getting promoted, because it might be a fluke that this has happened as it has in the past.
    I do, however, agree with all of the above advice to speak to your boss about what s/he wants to see from you in the future to get you ready for a promotion. I just finished my reviews and I have a 5 year employee who has said over and over she wasn’t interested in moving up (or so I was told, I have only been here for 8 months) and in our review she said she was interested in taking on a different roll or expanding hers. If she had not brought this up, I would have assumed she was still happy where she was.

  10. AdAgencyChick*

    It’s probably not the right time to ask FOR a promotion, but you can certainly ask ABOUT a promotion, as in, “what would I need to do to be considered for X role?”

    1. Sugar of lead*

      Exactly. Put out a couple of feelers; get a sense of where you’re at. The trick is to look interested without seeming arrogant. Good luck on your career, OP. I hope things are less hectic going forward.

  11. Mike C.*

    It’s also helpful to realize that, at least in most organizations, promotions aren’t something that should be so closely tied to the amount of time that’s gone by.

    I wish you could our company of this. I missed out on a major promotion (applied internally for a new job) because even though I had all the skills needed to perform the job and was picked by the hiring manager but I only had N years of experience and the “average person” in such a position had 30% more experience.

    1. designbot*

      I feel like someone needs to explain to your company how averages work. If you don’t promote until someone hits the average experience of the next level up, you’re setting the floor higher and higher by raising the average with each person. Being 30% off of average in your first day in that role sounds completely reasonable to me.

      1. Mike C.*

        What’s a statistical distribution, precious? /gollum

        Seriously though, they freak out whenever I start talking about variance. Even though all the Lean/Six Sigma stuff they preach about talks about reducing variation before applying long term process improvement. It drives me up the wall.

    2. DataQueen*

      I was once told that I didn’t qualify for the pay rate for my new promotion because “people in those positions are supposed to have 10 years experience, and you only have 4, and we’ve never had someone in that role with ou 4 years experience before.” Well if those 4 years were enough to get me the promotion, they should also get me the pay. On the lower end of the range, fine, I’d get it, but not below the range for the same work.

      1. Mike C.*

        You know, it’s one thing to say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, but at least allow someone to provide that evidence!

  12. CC*

    I feel like this advice is a bit off the mark. It sounds like the OP has gotten positive reviews from her boss and is in a setting where getting promoted after 2 years would not be unusual. She also doesn’t really have direct information about what her boss is thinking and says she suffers from imposter syndrome. I feel like we don’t have enough data to say that she definitely isn’t in a place to get promoted. Why not give some advice on language that she can use to feel out her boss and see where she stands (without coming across as demanding or entitled)? it seems like a conversation about what she should be working on to get to the next level would be helpful even if it turns out she’s a ways off.

    1. Clever Name*

      I disagree. The OP says that she is 6 months behind where the boss wants her to be. That is not “ready for promotion” in my book. I’m concerned that the OP says she is happy where she is at progress-wise but her boss may not be. Frankly, OP’s assessment of her own performance isn’t really relevant here.

      1. OP*

        I think you may have misunderstood what I wrote. The 6 months comment wasn’t so much about expectations as it was about an ideal she had. Basically since I started this job, my boss has said ‘I want you to take on higher level work but fires keep coming up and once they are out, I’ll train you on how to do the higher level work’. So the fires kept coming and the training kept getting pushed back until we got extra ppl on our team. Ideally, if the fires had gone out when she had originally wanted, I would have been where I am now, 6 months ago.

        I made that comment more in a sense of ‘I haven’t been doing the higher level work(and therefore proved myself) for as long as my boss would ideally have wanted me to’ as opposed to ‘I’m not meeting expectations’. I hope this makes sense.

        1. PollyQ*

          So I would interpret that as meaning that you just don’t have the experience for the next role yet, even though it’s not your fault. Similarly, if you’d had a required course in school that had to be cancelled, you wouldn’t het credit for it, even though it wasn’t your fault.

          1. Morning Glory*

            I think the OP gets that which was why she included it as a factor in her letter.

            A couple of the comments interpreted it as a performance issue.

    2. John*

      What about this part: “I would say right now I’m where she was wanting me to be 6 months ago.”

      To be a candidate for promotion, you’d ideally want to be ahead of where she wanted you to be…meeting expectations at a minimum. If you’re lagging, it’s a hard case to make.

    3. KWu*

      I agree with this. The only concrete data is OP’s amount of time in her job and the general sense of how often promotions happen at the company. Even the comment about whether it would be BS not to get promoted this round *could* be valid–somewhat unlikely that it’s as strong or obvious as that, but it seems well worth taking efforts to get more information about where OP’s boss thinks OP stands. That would be in the vein of other comments around having an open discussion on what they’re looking for when evaluating promotion pitches and where OP could be improving.

      There’s a comment above about not listening to peers about your career path–I agree that you should weight different sources of information differently, but I don’t think it’s necessarily correct to write off what your peers are saying. I feel like I’ve been in situations where in hindsight, it feels like I was the only sucker that took the management chain’s statement at face value. Instead, I should have in fact done some more comparing to my peers to know where I should have questioned how things were going more. No one’s words are reliably correct or applicable.

  13. OP*

    Hi everyone and Allison! Thank you for the comments. This posting comes at the perfect time as I have a one on one check in with my boss next week. This is a quarterly check in that is really feedback based as opposed to general check in’s. A day after I wrote this letter, a coworker told me she had just had a check-in where she spoke with her boss about her path to HOW she could get promoted. Having a conversation geared that way makes me feel more comfortable than saying ‘I deserve a promotion’. Due to the nature of my job, I get feedback from the folks we support on pretty much every project and that feedback goes directly to my boss(and the feedback is always good!). I’ve also been keeping a list of accomplishments. The plus side is since I’m non-exempt, more work means more overtime so even if I don’t get a promotion, I will still most likely be increasing my income.

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about if I even want to get promoted. I like my job but I’m not sure it’s something I see myself doing forever. I work in legal marketing- it’s a high stress, high turnover industry. A lot of frustration builds up due to power dynamics and it’s common for people to feel unappreciated. I like my firm and we are far from toxic but my predecessor was essentially doing a manager’s job and did not get promoted because she ‘rubbed people the wrong way’. I’m not sure if these things are openly spoken about or if it’s all hush hush. I’ve considered changing careers and TBH, I will probably start putting a few feelers out there once I hit my 2 year mark since I feel I could be working in another industry, making more money and be just as satisfied.

    1. Kathleen Adams*

      I’m a little puzzled about “time for a promotion.” It might be time, but even if you have the necessary experience and expertise, don’t you have to wait until a slot opens up? That’s how it’s been everywhere I’ve worked, but maybe it’s different some places. Are there really places where it’s common to say, “Opie has worked here 2.5 years and her work is good. Let’s promote her to level 2. Meanwhile, Jane will hit the 2.5-year-mark in two months, so let’s start thinking about promoting her to level 2 as well” – and in all this, nobody ever has to consider how many level 2s there are? Or is there something basic that I’m misunderstanding here?

      1. KWu*

        My husband has always worked in government and that setup sounds similar, where you have limited openings for each level and therefore promotions into the next one. In the corporate environments I’ve worked in, I think the philosophy is more like, on a broader level they don’t want an organization to get too top-heavy with titles and have the promotion-equivalent of grade inflation, but at the same time it doesn’t make sense to say that people are not taking on more responsibility and excelling and having a bigger impact just because the level openings aren’t there currently, if that makes sense.

        If you’re making the company more money, it doesn’t make sense for management to have a scarcity mindset about promotions. Also, the company can usually more easily hire in more junior folks to balance out teams, if needed.

        1. Judy*

          In my experience, in the large corporate engineering world, there is a known progression. New graduate engineers are hired to a title of “Associate Engineer” or something. At about 2 years, there is almost always a promotion to “Engineer”. Then after another 5-8 years, there’s a promotion to “Senior Engineer”. This promotion is pretty variable. Then after another 5-8 years, there’s a possibility to be promoted to “Lead Engineer”. This is the first position based promotion. A team of 20 engineers probably has 4 leads at most. Sometimes there are different names, and maybe 2 levels before “Engineer”.

          Basically, there is an expected progression where early career promotions are easier to get than later.

      2. NW Mossy*

        This can vary a lot by organization, and even between departments within an organization. For example, my team is top-heavy with senior people because the baseline nature of the work requires a pretty high level of expertise, and there are some other teams here that work the same way. Other groups (typically much larger ones) will have more rigidity around how many 2s or 3s they can have because the work doesn’t require as many senior-level folks.

      3. Another Lawyer*

        Yep, I’ve had promotions that just slapped “Senior” in front of my title after a couple of years to denote that my work was more advanced than someone who was just hired into the role.

      4. VroomVroom*

        I worked at a company where the titles were: Associate X, X, Sr. X, and then you went on to Associate X Manager, X Manager, Sr. X Manager, and then Associate X Director, X Director, Sr. X Director (and so on) These promotions arbitrarily happened anywhere between 1-2 years, and were generally irrelevant except for the jumps from to having Manager or Director in your title. We had directors at our company who had ~6-8 years of work experience. Most people who left the company found that they took a significant demotion in TITLE – but not in pay necessarily, because the promotions everyone got were correlated with very minimal pay raises. It was basically like instead of getting an annual cost of living adjustment or raise or something, you got a ‘promotion’ instead.

      5. LBK*

        Yeah, budget constraints aside, I’ve worked in a few departments where there’s no limit on how many level 2s or 3s you can have. They’re not people managers so it’s not like there’s a dearth of employees to work under them; it’s mostly just a recognition of doing higher level work within the same area.

    2. KWu*

      Hi OP! Great job on keeping your own list of accomplishments and noting all the good feedback that you’ve been getting for your work. I feel like that tends to be the best way to counter any imposter syndrome-type issues that can crop up, in that it’s helpful to get out of your head and approach the question of whether you’re doing well as an investigation. Stuff like:
      * What’s the opinion of people who deserve your respect?
      * Do you know what success looks like?
      * How would you evaluate your work’s impact if someone else were performing it?

      To me, the opposite of imposter syndrome is complacency or misplaced confidence. So in both cases, the lesson is that you can’t rely solely on your own perceptions–your brain will lie to you. Therefore, go out and try to find some external answers to your questions and doubts instead. I find that a lot advice on countering imposter syndrome tends to up being more or less, “just feel more confident” but I don’t think that’s very effective.

    3. Morning Glory*

      Hi OP,

      I agree with a lot of the other commenters that asking about what it would take for a promotion is a good way to go about this!

      Depending on how that conversation goes, it may be a good idea for you to look at the title and responsibilities a promotion would mean, and whether those skills could be translated into the field/career path you are interested in. Right now you are at a company with a track for promotion that is willing to train you and let you grow, which is a great thing to take advantage of as long as the downsides aren’t too bad.

  14. NP*

    I work in a company where it would be BS for an entry level employee in good standing not to get promoted after two years. And I ended up getting promoted a few months early for exactly the same reason as the OP: because of the timing of when I started vs. when annual reviews took place, a whole year later would have been too long to wait to give me a promotion (I ended up spending an extra year in the next-up title as compensation, so it all worked out in the end).

    That said, I do agree with others that you should ask about a promotion instead of ask for a promotion. In your meeting with your boss, you should mention that you understand that others are typically promoted in X time frame, and this year would be a little short of that for you. Given that, ask whether your boss thinks you will be ready to be promoted this year, and if not, what you will need to do to ensure it for next year.

  15. MommyMD*

    Wait another year. It’s not that long in the scheme of things and you will be much more experienced and have a better case to present. You will probably be a much more valuable employee in the eyes of management by waiting.

  16. VroomVroom*

    I sort of agree with Alison’s advice but with a Caveat – ASK your boss about it! It’s totally normal to ask your boss if you’re where she’s expecting you to be, if she sees you on track for growth in the near future, or whatever. I’ve done that in *every* performance review I ever have – it’s not asking for a promotion, it’s just feeling out what your boss’s impressions of where you are going with the company are.

    You may or may not be on track – Alison thinks likely not, but honestly I think you may have undersold yourself in your letter to us and you even admitted to ‘Imposter Syndrome” (fellow sufferer here) so there’s no way to really know if you’re accurately representing your performance to us. But there’s no way to know without talking to your boss about it! Just talking to her doesn’t have to entail ASKING for a promotion.

  17. willy*

    I have worked in a position for 15+ years. I have a 2 year college degree. If a person with no knowledge of my job is hired over me but they have a 4 year degree am I legally obligated to train them?

    1. LBK*

      You’re not legally obligated to do it, but you don’t really have any standing to refuse. Type of degree isn’t a relevant factor here; it’s a completely normal part of most jobs to be expected to train new hires, especially if you’ve been in the role for a long time like you have. Refusing to train someone is a good way to get fired.

      You might try posting this comment on today’s open thread to get more responses, as we usually stick to commenting solely about the letter in question on posts like this.

  18. TootsNYC*

    Promotions aren’t even really a reward for meeting your goals or doing your job really well.

    Promotions are about whether you’re a good candidate for an expanded role–IF that expanded role exists.

    I remember talking with a junior colleague who was in her first job and was angry that, near the 2-year mark, she hadn’t been promoted. I told her I didn’t see any need for her to be promoted.

    She was the editorial assistant in a three-person department (her, an associate, and the head of the department).
    They produced, say, four teapots of varying difficulty and size every month (say, 8, 5, 2, 1); that wasn’t going to be going up.
    Their department functioned very well as it was–the head of the department did the 8; the associate did the 5 and 2, and the assistant did administrative work, helped with discreet research/tasks for the 8 or the 5, and also did the 1—not because they needed her to, but because it was a growth opportunity.

    I pointed out that if they promoted her, her duties should change–but what would they change to?

    What new duties could she take on? There was no new teapot business coming–it was always going to be a version of 8, 5, 2, 1. They weren’t going to take the 5 or the 2 away from the associate–she has expertise that they’re paying her a sizeable salary for, and they will want their money’s worth. Likewise the head of the department.

    What old duties could she jettison? The company wasn’t going to want their more highly paid associate and department head to do their own expense reports or other admin work–that’s not why they’re paying them; they want them to focus on the teapots.

    Rearranging the department in order to reward her sounded nice–but it wasn’t a smart thing for the company.

    I told her the next step was for her to move out in order to move up. And that this was why she’d been given the “1 task” all along–so that she would be qualified to move up, even if it meant she’d move out.

    But I’ve always remembered how sure she was that she was owed a promotion as a natural consequence of simply having worked there that long, or having done a good job.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Oh–sometimes a promotion reflect greater autonomy at the same job/tasks. But for my colleague, that wasn’t particularly likely either; the department head would -always- review her work. Or, it wouldn’t be enough of a change to warrant a serious change in salary or title.

      (But I know there are industries where a promotion is an automatic thing–I’ve never worked in one of those.)

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