How to Have the Career Advancement Conversation with Your Manager

Growth is one of the basic needs of human beings. When we feel safe and confident, we start to think about the next step we could take and the next peak we could conquer. Thus, the urge to take your career to the next level comes naturally, and it’s no wonder you’re thinking of the best ways to have a career conversation with your manager.

Plus, it’s not only in your interest to climb up the career ladder within your current workplace. Most companies don’t want to let go of their workers, as hiring and training new employees is often time-consuming and expensive. Thus, talking about career growth with your employer is the perfect opportunity to mold the situation to serve your ambitions best.

Keep reading this post and learn what career development conversation is, why it matters, and how to discuss your professional growth with your boss effectively.

Getting ahead in your career often requires proactively speaking up and asking for growth opportunities But having conversations about career advancement with your boss can feel intimidating,

This comprehensive guide breaks down how to effectively discuss career progression with your manager, Follow these tips to open up a productive dialogue that puts you on the path to achieving your professional goals

Reflect on Your Career Aspirations

Before talking to your manager spend time getting clarity on what you want next in your career. Here are some key questions to ask yourself

  • What parts of my current role do I find most rewarding? Most challenging?

  • What projects have I worked on that energized and excited me?

  • What skills have I developed that I want to utilize more?

  • What professional goals do I have for the next 2-3 years?

  • What does career success look like to me right now?

Really reflect on your interests, strengths, and goals. The more specific you can get about what you want, the easier it will be to have a focused career discussion with your boss.

Make a List of Your Achievements

Come prepared to your career conversation by making a list of your recent accomplishments. Quantify your achievements with metrics that highlight the value you’ve brought to the company.

For example, you could say:

  • “I increased sales by 15% over the last quarter by implementing a new lead generation strategy.”

  • “I successfully led the team to complete the Smith project two weeks ahead of schedule.”

Highlighting how you’ve positively impacted the organization will build your case for advancement.

Request a Formal Meeting

Don’t just casually bring up your desire for career growth in a regular one-on-one. Formally request a meeting dedicated specifically to discussing professional development. This shows your manager you are serious. It also reduces the chances of rushing through the conversation.

When requesting the meeting, give some context, for example:

“I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss my aspirations for career advancement and growth opportunities within the company. I have some ideas I’d like to run by you and want to collaborate on a plan to develop my skills for the next stage of my career.”

Have a Specific Ask

Entering the meeting with a vague notion of “I want to get promoted” isn’t that helpful. Have a specific ask in mind. For example:

  • A new title that better reflects your expanding responsibilities
  • Leadership over a particular project or initiative
  • Assignment to a role in a division you want to switch to
  • Participation in a formal management training program

Come with clear goals so your manager understands exactly what you are hoping to achieve in the near term.

Propose a Development Plan

Part of the discussion should focus on how you can continue to grow in your current role or prepare for the one you aspire to. Come armed with development areas you want to work on. Offer Specific suggestions like:

  • Job shadowing a colleague in a role you want to learn more about
  • Leading an upcoming project to expand your skills
  • Attending a relevant conference or training
  • Taking on additional responsibilities that provide stretch opportunities

This shows you are committed to actively and continuously developing. It gives your manager ideas on ways they can support your advancement.

Understand Your Manager’s Perspective

In the meeting, your boss will likely provide context on what development opportunities are feasible given business priorities and other factors you may not be aware of. Listen openly to understand your manager’s perspective.

Be prepared to have an open dialogue and find middle ground if your initial ask isn’t possible right away. Maintain a collaborative problem-solving approach.

Explore Different Development Paths

Ideally your manager will be receptive and be able to map out a path to get you where you want to go. But if certain opportunities aren’t available currently, discuss alternatives to gain relevant skills and experience for the future.

For example, if a promotion is not imminent, maybe you could take on new project management responsibilities or join an internal committee in the interim to expand your skill set.

Agree on Next Steps After the Meeting

To keep momentum going, follow up with your boss after your career discussion to confirm next steps. Send a summary like:

Putting action items in writing helps hold both of you accountable.

Develop Your Skills

With a game plan in place, diligently work on building your capabilities. Complete training programs. Pursue self-directed learning through courses or books. Volunteer for stretch assignments.

Not only will actively developing your skills make you more qualified for advancement, it shows your commitment and motivation.

Deliver Impactful Results

While actively working on your growth, keep delivering exceptional work in your current role. Strong performance will speed up your timeline for promotion.

Look for opportunities to take on additional responsibilities and demonstrate you can produce results at the next level. Impactful contributions now set you up for an easier conversation later about getting promoted.

Schedule Ongoing Career Conversations

A single sit-down is just the start. Consider it the beginning of an ongoing career development dialogue. Schedule follow-ups with your manager every month or quarter to provide updates on your progress.

Discuss new skills you are acquiring, projects you are driving, and the positive business impact you’re having. Maintaining open communication creates opportunities for you to convey your accomplishments and reinforce your readiness for promotion when the time is right.

Be Ready to Make Your Case

When opportunities do arise or it’s time for your next performance review, be ready to confidently make your case for career advancement.

Concisely recap your discussed goals and the results you’ve achieved. Illustrate how you are already performing at the next level and share your eagerness to take on new challenges when given the chance.

With persistence and effective self-advocacy, you can create definitive steps forward for your career over time. While managers play a role in development, adopting a proactive approach and consistently communicating your aspirations is key.

By following these tips, you can engage in fruitful career conversations that pave the way to reaching your potential. The effort invested to intentionally manage your career progression pays dividends for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ask for more responsibility?

If you want more responsibility in your current role, highlight to your manager specific tasks or projects you feel ready and excited to take on. Explain how you will apply your skills to deliver successful outcomes. Offer to produce a proposal outlining your ideas and suggested approach if helpful.

Should I tell my boss I want their job?

Avoid saying you outright want their exact job, as that can breed resentment. Have an honest discussion about your desire to move into leadership, without implying you want their specific role. Outline what motivates you about managing teams, overseeing projects, or other aspects of their responsibilities you aim to develop.

What if my manager says there are no opportunities right now?

If your boss says opportunities for advancement are limited presently, explore what steps you can take to gain relevant skills and experience anyway. Seek their advice on alternative roles or lateral moves that could expand your capabilities for future promotion.

How soon should I ask for a promotion after starting a new job?

When starting a new role, give it at least 6 months to fully ramp up and consistently produce high-quality results before formally discussing promotion. Use your onboarding period to build key relationships and learn the role in depth, laying the foundation to make a strong case later on.

What if I don’t want my boss’s job, just a better job title?

Focus the discussion on how a new title that better reflects your expanding contributions will motivate you. Point to forward-looking projects and responsibilities that align with a higher level role. Share competitive intelligence on updated titles for similar positions. Highlight how a title change helps retain you.

How do I stand out from my coworkers?

Doing exceptional work is table stakes. Go above and beyond by proactively taking on extra projects, spearheading initiatives to solve problems, and building relationships across the organization. Seek feedback on your performance and look for mentorship opportunities. Share your accomplishments and readiness for more during career conversations.


Advancing your career requires speaking up and making your goals known. Have thoughtful, productive development discussions with your manager by:

  • Getting very clear on your aspirations
  • Quantifying your achievements
  • Making a specific ask
  • Proposing a skill-building plan
  • Maintaining open and ongoing dialogue
  • Consistently delivering outstanding results

With preparation and persistence, you can drive your career growth – even when promotion timelines are uncertain. Rather than sit and wait, own the conversation.

how to talk to boss about career advancement

It shows how you can achieve your goals

Another benefit of career development conversations is that they give you a clear direction on achieving your goals. These discussions help you identify skill gaps required for the desired growth so you get a clear direction.

What is a career development discussion?

A career development discussion is a conversation between an individual and a supervisor, mentor, or manager exploring potential career growth options in their current workplace.

Ideally, such conversations happen in a formal setting. These discussions allow you and your manager to assess your skills, interests, and overall career aspirations. Such an assessment will help you align these skills with your career goals.

It also helps you identify any skill developments required for the aspired growth. By identifying the gaps between your current skills and those needed for your growth, you can easily plan how to establish those requirements. This can be through training, certificate courses, on-job experiences, and more.

Talk To Your Boss About Growing Your Career

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