How will staying for my next promotion affect my ability to land a bigger role?

by Ashlee Wagner
Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

This time of year, one of the top questions our Strategy & Corporate Development recruiters are asked is, “How will staying for my next promotion affect my ability to land a bigger role?”

As we approach prime time for promotion season, many are trying to weigh the pros and cons of leaving now versus staying for that next promotion.

We’ve all heard the story about the consultant who left for a Head of Strategy role one week after being designated to Associate Partner AND landed a compensation package that was a pay bump on top of the recent bump with the promotion. While this story might be true within some organizations, we’ve found it definitely is an outlier.

Oftentimes companies don’t give credit for a promotion until the person has had enough time in the role. “Enough time” can vary from company to company, but the minimum time is typically six months. Don’t get me wrong: It’s certainly positive to show that you’ve earned the promotion. However, just getting the new title won’t usually qualify you for a more senior position on Day One … or day thirty, for that matter.

While promotions happen annually in most consulting firms, it’s typical for individuals in corporate America to stay in a role for 18 to 36 months before being promoted. Therefore, most companies will consider individuals in a two-year range for positions, meaning a three-year post-MBA and four-year post-MBA could be vying for the same director role within industry. With some companies, it might actually be a benefit to leave at the three-year mark versus holding out for another year. The reason? You’ll build brand equity (and depending on level, true compensation equity as well) and get closer to rolling out into P&L responsibility.

Back to the question at hand: How will staying for your next promotion affect your ability to land a bigger role?

If you’re planning to take the promotion and spend at least six months in the role, then the answer is yes – staying for promotion likely will affect your ability to land a bigger role. However, if your intention is to leave shortly after the promotion, then you want to go into it knowing that while it looks great to have made it to the next level, it likely won’t have much impact on the level of position for which you are considered.

To learn more, call Ashlee Wagner at (336) 378-1818, extension 9142, or email her at ashlee.wagner@charlesaris.com.