Should i ask for my boss role?

long story short - my boss left the company about 3 months ago and just recently i saw the job vacancy in the intranet and in the market. i joined the company about one year ago. my ex boss career rank is 2 steps higher than me… while i don’t fit exactly into the job description , i felt like i have capability and aptitude to excel in the role. shall i go to my big boss and share what i think ? the thing is my big boss has never asked me about whether i am interested to fill in her shoe…

Maybe. But be careful. Aptitude is one thing. Experience is another. You’ve got one and not the other. Plus, their first choice is to go external, which tells you something.
Also, consider the downsides if you ask and are declined.

please enlighten on what’s the possible downsides ?
also i am thinking in what way should i approach him on this, definitely don’t want him to view me as overly eager and hard to manage kinda employee…

You only being one year into your tenure makes this a little more complicated, but the simple answer is that you don’t get what you don’t ask for. The big boss might tell you that they don’t think you’re ready or they want an outside perspective, they might encourage you to apply but still go with someone from the outside, or they may be very open to the idea. What will matter is how you handle the result, not that you asked.

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Hmmm, this is interesting. Based upon what you’ve expressed so far, it never hurts to have a conversation. However, you may learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before and it could upset you. For example, you may find out that your leadership doesn’t think you have good people skills so they don’t think you should be in a role managing people.

Here are things I’d consider before approaching the Big Boss:

  1. What experience or skills are you missing for the new role?
  2. What experience or skills make up for that gap?
  3. Since this is a two level jump, why have you not made the first level jump yet?
  4. Is there any internal politics involved? Like, will promoting you upset other high performers?
  5. Why do you want this new position? What needs of yours does it fill that your current role doesn’t?
  6. Why is the job posted externally and not filled internally?

It is entirely possible that your leadership is using this as an opportunity to change the role. So while you may have the aptitude to do what your old boss did, that may not be what they are looking for. Take another very close look at the job description and figure out why you don’t fit. Not fitting in a role is a very good way to make a job a miserable thing to do five days a week.

My advice (which is worth about as much as you paid for it) is to have a casual conversation with the Big Boss and see what their plans are for your new boss. Something along the lines of “Hey Big Boss Person, I know that you are planning on filling the role of My Boss. I’d like to know more about how that will impact Our Team and what your plans for the role are.” Depending on the what Big Boss shares, that will give you an idea of how qualified you actually are for the new role. If you check the boxes, then you can steer the conversation towards how you meet those qualifications and that you would be interested in taking on more responsibilities to help the team. I think that helps come off as not too aggressive or hard to manage.

You do need to be ready for rejection and actuaries can be really bad at this. I worked at a place that created a new management layer because of the growth in the product lines. Senior management brought in two people people from outside and told the five bosses that they were not going to be considered for the new roles. Three of the five left within three months.


hey really thanks for your insights, never really consider those questions.

but i think i will definitely have conversations with the big boss, to understand more about the team and also what’s their plan to develop the team member (i.e develop me haha)

yes 1 year is short , i have another team member which is much more experienced and older. not sure if he doesn’t want the role or the big boss doesn’t thinks he fit the bill

They might say no I guess

If you get it, you might have to work harder


Yes… But I am interested in how they rejected me and where did I fall short.

Could be anything really, experience or maybe they just want to bring in someone else. You won’t find out if you don’t ask though.

Thats why I think the best time to ask is now, before the new one comes in.

I think you should, the only downside is you stay in your current job unless the boss’s boss happens to be a psychopath.

I would think I am not the first one to ask for promotion end up getting rejected. Me asking for the role will just like another Tuesday for my big boss. Unless I am really that unlucky.

Thinking from another perspective, there is opportunity cost of not asking for the role. The boss will think that I am not engaged enough, imo.

I’d be surprised if your boss’ boss would look negatively on you for not asking to interview for an opening two levels above you.

What are the requirements that you worry preclude you from the role?

That’s the downside. If you don’t get the role, and by your description I’m guessing that you won’t, everyone’s perception is going to be different. At a minimum it’s clear that you’re looking to advance - which isn’t much of a step from looking to move. Whatever the reaction is, now you’re the person that overreached to get a position with no experience, 2 levels above you, and failed.
Maybe that’s not the way it’s perceived. But maybe it is. There’s downside potential here.

To be clear -although in term of internal career ranking I am 2 rung below, but I am the most senior member in her team after she left. Not sure if this matter though.

valid point. Good thing I reach out to you guys for advices.

That’s certainly helpful. I’m still curious about the missing requirements though as that would probably determine how seriously received your intention to interview would be.

mm 2 of the more objective measurable requirement :

  1. They are asking for qualified actuary, I am near qualified.
  2. Experiences managing a team which I don’t have. But when my ex boss was hired into her role few years ago, I believe she didn’t have experience managing a team as well.

Makes sense. It’ll really depend on the culture at your firm I think, particularly for the first limitation. If you’re graceful about the probable rejection it couldn’t hurt too bad to ask. I think being ambitious is generally well received if you’re outgoing/social about it.