You’ve taken one for the team, risen to the challenge, and… all those other hard work clichés. But before your boss signs off on a promotion, you’ll probably have to promote yourself. Here are nine foolproof ways to climb the career ladder.
1. CREATE A LONG-TERM PLAN.
For starters, don’t go after a promotion just for promotion’s sake. Think about where you’d like to be in the next five to 10 years. If your dream is to completely change careers, consider working on that instead of spending your energy advancing in a field you want to leave.
2. LET THE NUMBERS DO THE TALKING.
The quickest way to prove your worth is by presenting quantifiable achievements. Figure out exactly what percentage you increased monthly page views, raised state test scores, or saved money on office supplies. One number you don’t want to discuss: How long you’ve been working for the company. Sorry, seniority alone isn’t a reason for promotion.
3. SAY YES.
Everyone loves a raise, but promotions also come with more responsibility. Show your boss you’re up to the task before you get an official promotion by promoting yourself. Volunteer for special projects, pick up slack, join a new task force, and most importantly, make sure you’re still excelling at your normal duties.
4. FOCUS ON SOME SELF-IMPROVEMENT.
While you’re at it, seize every opportunity to hone new skills and complete training that’ll help you succeed in a new role, act as a thought leader or resident “expert,” and educate the next person in your position.
5. MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION—ON EVERYONE, NOT JUST YOUR BOSS.
To sum up the previous three steps: Be awesome at your job. The next big step: Make sure other people know you’re awesome. Ideally, your boss will recognize all your hard work and reward you swiftly. But if he or she happens to be more hands-off, you’ll probably need other people to vouch for you. (Really, it never hurts. Sometimes it takes a village to raise a salary.) Be a team player and consider every co-worker interaction a chance to show how smart, considerate, and trustworthy you are. And if you can make a good impression on your boss’s boss? Even better.
6. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF.
A promotion is just as much a chance for you to invest in your company as it is a sign that your company is invested in you. Keep that in mind before asking for a promotion. Check in with yourself to see if you’re still excited about your field and passionate about your company —and that there’s room there for you to grow. If these things are no longer true, it might be time to take your many talents elsewhere.
7. STAY POSITIVE.
Remember to focus on your own merit and accomplishments throughout the promotion conversation. Never compare your responsibilities, productivity, or salary to those of co-workers.
8. BE PRO-ACTIVE.
It’s also a good idea to have an action plan for your promotion, including new duties you’d like to assume and goals you’d like to set. This is a great time to point out the new responsibilities you’ve already taken on and how useful all your training will be.
9. BE DIRECT.
You’ve done all the work. Now it’s time to ask for the promotion you want. Present it not as a threat or a test, but as something you deserve and will excel at—and can prove it. If there’s a company-designated time for this discussion (such as an annual review), come prepared. Otherwise, ask your boss if you can meet privately to discuss your future and see how he or she thinks you should proceed. Good luck!