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How long should you wait for a promotion before seeking a new role?

Contemplating career progression? Our guide addresses when to seek a promotion or consider moving on for ambitious professionals.
By Hubert Day,

It's no secret that the job market is competitive, and with career progression a driving factor for many professionals, there are always new opportunities arising. If you are looking for your next challenge, but are happy in your current company, how long should you wait for that all-important promotion? 

In this article, we’ll explore what you need to consider when deciding whether or not to wait it out or move on with your career.

Assess where you are

Every business will have its own culture and roadmap to progression, so you need a clear picture of where you are and where you want to be, as well as the time it’s likely to take within that specific company. Some organisations have very transparent promotion timelines, while others may have unclear paths to career development. The first course of action should be to set up a discussion with your lead or manager, to share your feelings and ask what a realistic promotion timeframe would look like.

At the same time, look at your personal progress, achievements and contributions within your current role. Have you consistently exceeded expectations? Do you demonstrate leadership skills and take on additional responsibilities? Collecting evidence of these crucial strengths will help you provide clarity to your manager about why you feel you deserve a promotion and are ready for the next step in your career. It’s also important to consider the current average salaries and assess where you sit within the range. 

Seek feedback

Whilst only you know your capabilities most clearly, asking for regular feedback from your colleagues and mentors is essential for gauging the distance between you and your next promotion. Constructive feedback helps you to identify areas you need to improve on, and should guide you when choosing where to focus your self-development efforts.

Actively seeking new learning opportunities is a strong sign that you’re ready for more responsibility, so speak to your lead about any potential training programmes, new projects or qualifications you could be working towards in the meantime. By keeping your seniors in the loop, you will demonstrate your drive and focus – an invaluable skill that many employers appreciate.

See what’s out there

Being loyal is commendable, but sometimes it pays to jump ship. Whilst debating how long to wait for your promotion, it’s essential to keep an eye on external opportunities that align with your career aspirations. If you feel like your patience is wearing thin, and you’ve proven yourself with your efforts and contributions, it may be time to start applying for roles elsewhere – even if they’re slightly above your current experience level. Throughout your decision-making process, focus on networking, updating your portfolio and following market trends within your industry. This way, if a dream opportunity comes around, you’ll be ready to grab the chance to advance your career.

Ultimately, the decision of how long to wait for a promotion before moving on is a personal choice. Be sure that your timeframe aligns with your overall career goals and takes into account your employment history, as well as where you see yourself in the future.