Building relationships in the workplace is always important, but especially when it comes to asking for a promotion. First and foremost, you’ll want to get your manager on your side, because it’ll be nearly impossible to get a promotion without the support of your manager.
How do you do that?
Do your job well. If you’re not meeting expectations for your current level, it’ll be hard to convince your boss that you deserve a higher salary and more responsibility.
Ask your boss to explain the promotion process at your company. This will let them know that you’re interested in advancing your career, but there’s no pressure to actually ask for the promotion yet.
Ask them what their philosophy is on promoting their employees. This will give you an idea of what qualities your manager is specifically looking for in order to recommend a promotion.
Ask them to rate your performance against your current level, and against the next level up. This is a way to have an informal conversation around what criteria you are currently meeting, and what criteria you still need to work on.
These conversations should happen during your one-on-ones where you can talk privately and openly with your manager. You should approach the conversations as a way to gather information and feedback without actually asking the big question yet.
Additionally, it’s good to talk to other senior engineers on your team or on different teams. Even though they are your peers, senior engineers often have at least some sort of say in the promotion process. Your manager may lean on the senior engineers to give their honest feedback about your performance when it comes time to build a case for your promotion.
If you have good working relationships with the senior engineers, they’ll be more likely to put in a good recommendation for you when they’re asked for feedback. Plus, you can ask the senior engineers if they think you’re ready for more responsibility. If you have a good relationship, they may feel more comfortable talking candidly with you about what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. The senior engineers have a unique perspective because they work more closely with you than the managers do. Your manager may be busy throughout the day, and they won’t be able to read every line of code that you write. A senior engineer on the other hand may have a better understanding of certain technical or soft skills you may need to work on before asking for a promotion, and your manager may even consult the senior people on your team about recommendations for who to promote.