“I’m in my mid-twenties and I’m aware of the reputation my generation has — we’re seen as impatient for promotions, unwilling to “pay our dues” and generally afflicted with a sense of entitlement. Believe me when I say this doesn’t define me or the people I know. I don’t expect to be handed something for nothing; I’m prepared to work hard. I’ve been at my current job for a year and I’ve taken on extra projects so I’d have the chance to show that I can do more. I want a promotion and I think I’m ready, but I haven’t been with the company long and I’m afraid that if I ask for what I want, I’ll reinforce the stereotype and cost myself a job. How can I ask for a promotion and prove to my boss that I am ambitious and worthy of advancement without coming across as entitled?”


You’re right about the reputation our generation has, but I think that’s something you should embrace. To have someone who is over eager in your office is a good thing — we have to stop apologizing for that. The opposite of that is not caring.

Ok, my view is going to be really, really simple and it’s this: you only get what you ask for. As much as you think people are noticing what you’re doing all the time, how much is on your plate, it’s your job to really promote those facts. Some organizations have structures in place for those conversations to happen naturally, but sometimes you have to make them yourself.

Ask for time to speak with your boss and go in with a list. You need to say “these have been my contributions, this is where I made a difference,” and then let that naturally lead into a conversation about promotion. Having the guts to say those words will lead to a conversation about promotion.

Besides bringing that list, you need to constantly be asking your boss: “What is most important to you, what’s your focus now?”

People who are constantly focused on the priorities of the company get promoted.

What’s a long time to wait for a promotion? Depends on the environment. If you’re in a mature company with many layers of process and hierarchy, a year might not be a long time. But I have promoted people who haven’t been here that long. Especially in an entrepreneurial environment, there’s no need to make people wait. They should be promoted — and quickly.

If your worst piece of feedback in a performance review is that you were too eager to contribute, and too eager to be promoted as a result of those contributions, that’s not a bad thing.