How to get promoted as a software developer

How to get promoted as a software developer

In this video I'm talking about getting a promotion - how to decide whether you are ready for it or whether you still need time; how to talk to your manager and ensure taht the topic does not get forgotten; how to ensure that your promotion comes with a salary raise (whenever it is possible).

The cute image in the thumbnail was found on Flickr and created by Manuel Sagra (



  1. everyone wants to be promoted at some point of time
  • nobody's like "yeah! junior dev for life!"

2. promotion means a lot of things

  • sign of appreciation's of one's work
  • often related to salary range (even if does not guarantee immediate increase, it should happen in the next raise window)
  • it often determines status and authority
  • it introduces more expectations and responsibilities

3. today I'm talking about how to get a promotion (within the same company, you can get promoted by changing job)

How promotions work

There are 2 ways:

  1. first you get promoted, then you take new responsibilities
  • happens with position of very different responsibilities, e.g. developer → manager, product owner → director of product

2. first you start taking new responsibilities, then you get promoted, then your responsibilities are official

  • happens early in the career, this is what I expect when going from junior developer all the way to lead dev

How to get a promotion?

  • in some good companies this conversation will be started by your manager
  1. very often it's the employee that has to start such conversation
  • start by assessing your current situation
  • look at people at your company - do you stand out from the group of people with your title? do your skills look more like those of mid-level devs rather than junior devs?
  • it is important to determine whether you want to talk about promotion within short time or whether you want to

2. signal to your manager that you'd like to talk about your career progress and a potential promotion

  • if you have regular 1-1s, you can say that during meeting, but what I'd do is let the manager know before so that they know that it'll be the main point of the meeting from your side
  • if you don't have regular 1-1s (then step 0: get regular 1-1s), ask manager for a meeting in a couple of days

3. prepare:

  • make a list of bigger things that you've delivered - you don't need to read them all later, just have them to show some examples
  • make a list of your responsibilities, especially if you do some work that normally is not done by your peers

4. during the meeting:

  • talk to your manager and explain your case; if you want to get promoted soon, you need to explain why you deserver it; if you want to get promoted in 6-12 months, ask what you can do to get that, ask whether you can develop a plan
  • understand what are the responsibilities of the title you want to get

5. make sure to get some commitment from your manager:

  • if they promise to think about it or to talk to their manager etc, ask when you could talk about it again then
  • if they say that they'll provide you some plan, or that you'll work on it together, again agree on some date - it probably won't be during your next 1:1, but maybe in a month
  • do not expect to get answer immediately

6. after the meeting:

  • make sure that this topic is not forgotten - if you agreed on some specific date to talk about it, wait till, then, if you didn't, check again after a couple of weeks
  • it takes time, won't be done in a week, but you should get some update in a few weeks

7. there are 3 outcomes:

  • you get it - wonderful, congratulations!
  • you're not there yet - then ask what's missing, what can you improve and how you can work on that - if the manager asks you to improve your frontend skills, they need to make sure you have opportunity to work on that
  • you won't get it - ask why? if the company does not have a slot for senior developer - that's kind of bullshit, and a red flag; if it's a matter of budget - ask when there'll be a budget
  • make sure to understand what's the reason and what is the plan for the future
  • when you get the promotion
  • understand how exactly the responsibilities and expectations change
  • understand what is salary policy - do you get a raise now? do you get it in the next raise window? etc