Never go into a meeting to ask for a promotion if you’re unprepared—doing so can be a recipe for disaster. The last thing you want to do is just show up and demand a promotion without anything of substance to back it up. If you have any hope of landing a promotion, it is imperative that you take the time and energy to lay the groundwork for this important conversation.
Let’s begin with setting the stage. The goal is for your boss, senior executives and others within the company to see you as a smart, ambitious worker who deserves a promotion and whose fast-tracking will help the organization. The key is to think long-term about asking for a promotion. Start preparing far in advance, and make sure all of your actions are focused on building a strong, indisputable case as to why you deserve the promotion. The actual meeting will be less stressful and more productive if you are prepared with all of the evidence you need to back your request.
What You Need To Do
How can you expect your supervisor, especially if she manages a large number of people, to recall everything you’ve done over the last year? It’s too easy for both you and your manager to forget all of your great accomplishments. Don’t depend on your memory; write down all of the awards, accolades, achievements and victories you’ve achieved. Meticulously keep track and put them into a memo, file, PowerPoint or other document that you can show your boss, and leave it with her to review in detail.
Ensure that your boss and other important people notice your hard work. Be subtle about it and not too obvious—otherwise, everyone will be hip to your game. You need to ensure that your boss is cognizant and regularly reminded of the great job that you are doing. Avoid waiting until the end of the year to cram this all in. Keep her posted with your progress via memos, emails and voicemails. To give them an extra nice touch, leave these messages either super early in the morning, late at night or on the weekends, as doing so will demonstrate your strong work ethic.
If you were given certain benchmarks to hit, let her know that you have exceeded them—and ahead of schedule. If you have questions, ask her for guidance or suggestions. Everyone likes to feel valued and she’ll know that you are serious about doing a good job. From time to time, inquire if there is anything else you could help her with. Even if there isn’t, she’ll appreciate that you’ve asked. Inquire if you are on the right track, and if not, how you can correct yourself to move forward.
Stay away from co-workers more involved with drama, gossiping and negativity than productive behaviors. Avoid anyone that will drag you down, as miserable people love to ensnare others into their pit of despair. If you allow yourself to be caught up in this drama, your reputation will be diminished just by association.
Since you are remaining positive and motivated, seek out like-minded, motivated employees. Smile and show everyone that you are enjoying yourself and are happy to be at work. Don’t complain or talk poorly about anyone else. If or when your boss reaches out to others to obtain their opinions of you, you want to make sure that you’ve minimized any negative talk and maximized your supporters.
Seek out mentors that can teach you inside tricks to get ahead. Hopefully, they are tight with management and can put in a good word with your boss—or her boss—to help you get the promotion and raise.
Try to be the first one in the door in the morning and the last person to leave. Instead of an hour lunch break, eat at your desk. Make sure that people notice this; otherwise, you have wasted a lot of precious time.
Update your wardrobe to dress as if you are at a more senior level than you are now. Don’t overdo it, so it won’t look too forced. Dress up enough so that other employees take notice. They will assume you have received a promotion or given some high-level assignments. As you look more mature, sophisticated and polished, you will begin to be viewed in a different light. While you are at it, you might as well hit the gym to get into better shape, get a good haircut and improve your diction. Once you are on this self-improvement kick, you might as well go all in.
Find out ways to help your boss look good to her bosses. One of the best ways to gain your manager’s affection and gratitude is to help her shine in front of her bosses. Just like you, your manager desires to advance in her career. If you could help her with this endeavor, she should be very grateful when it comes time for the promotion talk.
The Promotion Conversation
Now that the heavy lifting has been done, politely request a meeting with your boss.
Prepare a quick pitch that outlines your achievements over the last year and all of the reasons why you deserve a promotion. Clearly, confidently and succinctly tell her about all of your contributions and how you can further add value by being promoted to a higher level. You need to ask for the promotion directly. Politely—yet firmly—ask for the promotion and raise. Since you have been actively working toward this goal all year, you should be prepared with detailed, in-depth examples of all the projects, assignments and tasks that you have successfully accomplished.
A significant part of the conversation will entail selling yourself. The challenge is that while you did a great job and have the data to prove it, you could be uncomfortable with this aspect of the process. No matter how good you are, the facts will only go so far. After citing statistics and analytics, people tend to glaze over. You’ll need to be excited, upbeat and positive, and actively sell your boss on why you deserve the promotion. Your passion will become contagious and your manager will pick up on it and be inspired. She will also like the fact that you come across motivated, energetic and feel that you will work harder than the other potential candidates in line for a promotion.