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Are you ready for a promotion?

By Anthony Balderrama,
Expert: Confidence is key and an employee should not be shy when discussing his goals with boss.
Expert: Confidence is key and an employee should not be shy when discussing his goals with boss.
  • Asking the boss for a promotion is a job of its own, and you must be prepared for it
  • Before anything, you should take a look over your job description to assess yourself
  • Compile evidence of your ability to perform current roles, responsibilities
  • Document all achievements beyond expected tasks, how you helped company

( -- You're probably due for a promotion, right? I don't know you, but if you're like most other workers, you think you deserve a promotion. You are the glue that holds the entire organization together. Everybody knows it.

Everybody except your boss, that is. She doesn't seem to realize that you're ready for and deserving of bigger things.

On top of doing your job (and the jobs of several other colleagues, undoubtedly), you have a new task at hand: proving that you should get a promotion. It's not just going to land on your desk one day; you need to be proactive. Your perfect opportunity for making your case is when performance review time rolls around, but you should start preparing ahead of time.

Start with a job description

Steve Moore, a team manager with HR outsourcing company Administaff, recommends looking at your job description before you do anything else.

"Using a current job description, assuming one is available, honestly examine your strengths and weaknesses. Devise a plan to make your strengths work in your favor, to not only meet but also exceed expectations," Moore said.

"Then develop a strategy to improve your weak points. It might also be a good practice to work with your manager to set performance objectives based on the job requirements and your personal evaluation."

If you don't have a job description, Moore suggests asking your manager for one. Not only do you get the information you need, but you also display initiative to your boss and prove you're taking an active interest in your career.

Once you get a look at the role's description and possibly consult with your boss, you should have a good idea whether or not you're performing the duties and at what level. Whether or not you deserve a promotion is still another issue. Workers who deserve promotions are workers who redefine their roles.

"Focusing only on the tasks necessary to fulfill the role is the strategy to implement if an employee wants to keep his current job," Moore advised. "Employees who go above and beyond and add more value to the organization are truly poised for a promotion." Only then will management understand that you've taken the position as far as you can and are ready for new challenges.

How to perform well at your review

Annual performance reviews happen in many organizations, and some companies even offer them on a quarterly basis. During these reviews, the boss assesses how an employee has fulfilled job requirements, shown progress and demonstrated areas for improvement. It's also when conversations about raises and other important career decisions take place. If you want to discuss a promotion, you need to walk into the meeting ready to make your case.

"Start by compiling a file with evidence that displays your ability to perform your current roles and responsibilities," Moore suggested. "In addition, take time to document all achievements above and beyond expected tasks and provide solid examples of how the company has benefited from your drive to excel."

The more specific you can be, the better, says Moore. "For example, have your contributions in your current role increased profits or sales, added new clients to the roster or grown the business of existing clients?"

Nevertheless, Moore cautions against putting all of your hopes and energy on just an annual review. The timeline for receiving a promotion might not align with the performance review schedule, so don't get fixated on the review as the only opportunity you have to get what you want.

"Putting everything on paper and only evaluating it once a year during a performance review can be futile," Moore said.

"Supervisors and employees should work together to create a plan and review it periodically throughout the year. Adjustments should be made when appropriate, but more importantly, supervisors should help employees determine the best approaches to reach milestones."

Feel free to take the initiative to ask your boss for these conversations if he or she hasn't approached you about it.

Confidence above all else

Workers get understandably nervous and even bashful when discussing their goals. Like salary talks, discussions about promotions might cause you to doubt yourself. Are you deceiving yourself by thinking you deserve a new title? Is your boss going to laugh you out of the office? If you do get what you want, will your colleagues scoff at your step up?

If you have a specific role in mind, learn from the person who currently has or previously had the position. You can set yourself up to get the position by not only exceeding your job duties but also by demonstrating that you have the knowledge and ability to fulfill the requirements. Moore also recommends understanding how the performances of the people in that position have been measured. You'll have more confidence if you learn as much as you can about the role.

As for the fear that your colleagues and current co-workers might not embrace you with open arms upon your promotion, Moore says to stay focused on your concerns, not theirs.

"As an employee now in a higher position, it's important to display the abilities your manager rewarded by promoting you," Moore said. "The skill sets and character traits that make you worthy of this position may have already been noticed by your former colleagues. If not, you will have the opportunity to earn their trust as your talents are revealed over time."

Ultimately, confidence informs all aspects of a promotion, from the early talks to your first days in the role. And that confidence has to come from you, otherwise no one will take you seriously.

"When seeking a promotion, confidence is key and an employee should not be shy when discussing his goals with a manager or supervisor," Moore said.

"Let the supervisor know your intentions, ask him or her what is needed to reach a higher level, and request consistent advice and guidance. Even if you aren't granted a promotion this time around, you will have constructive feedback that can help prepare you for the next review."

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