Posted on: March 15, 2024 Posted by: Christina Bronner Comments: 2

Negotiating Your Next Career Move


Hey there, Upscale family! I’m Watchen Nyanue Hampton, and welcome to my career advice column here with Upscale Magazine. Think of me as your work bestie for all things career – from real talk about climbing that corporate ladder to juggling life, work, and everything in between. I’ve been there and done that, and I’m here to share it all with you. I currently run “I Choose the Ladder,” a boutique consulting firm in Chicago that does employee retention, development, and engagement work for companies like Nike, McDonald’s, and Best Buy. You can learn more about me here.

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Question of the month: Hi Watchen, I am about to talk with my manager about a promotion and need help negotiating during that conversation. We had layoffs over a year ago, and I have been doing the job of my former Director since he was laid off. In that year, I have not gotten a title change or an increase in my salary, so I want to walk away from that meeting with both things. – Sydney


Answer: Hi Sydney. One of the skills I think EVERYONE should invest in improving is their negotiation skills, so I am excited to be answering this question. I’ll start by saying what you have going for you, then share some obstacles you should prepare to address/overcome, and lastly, I’ll share some tips on how I would prepare.


The fact that you have already been doing the work and have, hopefully, consistently delivered at the next level is an asset. Your boss won’t have to guess if you are ready for the role because you have been doing it. You also know the company and your boss well, so you should know the type of data you will need to show them to give them what they need to advocate for your salary and title change. Lastly, I will assume that you have been open with your manager during your one-on-ones about your desired career outcomes, so hopefully, this conversation will not be the first time they hear about your desired change to your salary and title.


On the flip side, because you are currently employed at the company, your negotiating position is not quite as strong regarding how much of an increase to your salary you can command. You’ll also need to have a strong sense of your brand within the company. If it’s strong, that will help you; if it doesn’t exist or you aren’t aware of what it is, that could provide some challenges. Lastly, because you were doing the extra role out of necessity, some core competencies may be required to hold the title officially. If you were not intentional about developing while you filled the gap for your company, it could present some challenges.


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With all of that being said, in terms of preparation, I would focus on these three areas:


  1. Receipts: What proof do you have to illustrate your contributions, above and beyond the current job responsibilities and at the director level? Gather the most impressive ones and be prepared to share them.


  1. Business Case: You will ultimately need to create a business case for your promotion. While you won’t need to put together a complete formal business case, I would be prepared to speak to: The value proposition (what is the benefit to the company/department/boss if you get what you are asking for), your skills and competencies that you develop that demonstrate that you are ready, and company benchmarks for people who have held or currently hold similar titles and how you stack up.


  1. Understanding timing: When does your company usually provide raises and promotions, and where are they in that cycle? That will determine the timeframe for the conversation to give you your desired outcomes.


As a reminder, your boss is probably not going to be the final yes that decides if you get what you are asking for, even though they will have a voice in the decision, so you want to make sure you are giving them all of the tools and data they need to be able to advocate on your behalf successfully.


Good luck, and let me know how it goes!


About the Author: Watchen Nyanue Hampton is the Founder & CEO of the boutique consulting firm I Choose the Ladder and an expert talent management strategist, speaker, and facilitator who helps Fortune 500 companies keep their employees from quitting.


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