How To Ask For a Promotion at any Job and Actually Get It

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If you’ve worked your entry-level job long enough, some questions should swirl around your head as you swirl around your free office coffee. When should I ask for a promotion? Haven’t I worked here long enough? How do I even approach the boss without this getting awkward quick? If you’ve experienced these thoughts during your job, you understand how daunting it can seem to look your boss in the eyes and tell her that you deserve a promotion. We all come across this situation at some point in our lives, so we might as well learn from the seasoned professionals on this one.

Here’s how to ask for a promotion and actually get it.

Step 1: Act Like You Already Got the Position

Pretend you already got the promotion. Now I don’t mean abandon your regular work tasks and start the role of the CEO on Monday. I just mean picture yourself in the new position. Start dressing as you would in your new position, whether this means spending 10 minutes extra in the morning to pair those chic pants and heels or those dress pants and a polo, or just straightening and tucking in that uniform before walking in the door. Dressing for the new position will put you in the mentality of the new position.

Don’t stop at playing dress-up. Put as many hours into your current work as your new position would require. Stay at the office past five next time or keep your laptop open for a little while longer before deciding to turn in for the night. Embody your new work ethic and present yourself identically to the CEO. Start preparing yourself mentally and physically for the promotion that you will earn.

Step 2: Confidence is KEY

Confidence will keep you from melting into the workplace floor before and during the big moment. Take calming precautions before asking for the promotion. Save your cup of coffee for tomorrow and avoid the caffeine-induced anxiety it brings. Drink a cup of decaf tea instead. Stretch it out in a quick (or long) yoga session. Give yourself positive affirmations, such as “I am a boss.” “I make a significant contribution to everything I am a part of.” “I am going to have a great f—king day today.” Reassure yourself that you will get this promotion because your work place needs your creativity.

Now use this same confidence when you meet with your boss. “You have to believe what you’re saying. If you’re unsure when you speak, that unsureness is passed on to the other person and then they’re unsure about the situation too. You have to manipulate this and assert yourself. You have to talk with an air that says I know what the hell I’m talking about,” said Florida State University senior Michael Balint. Speak confidently enough that you believe yourself. Fake it until you make it. And believe me, with enough confidence you will make it.

Step 3: Come Prepared

Unless you have an extraordinary amount of luck and the magical power of knowing exactly what to say every time, you should come prepared when asking your boss for a promotion. Have a list of reasons why you deserve the promotion. If you can’t see your own value, then you can’t expect anyone else to. Make it clear.

Know the answer to any common question your boss might ask:

  • What have you done to better the company?
  • What makes you different from your coworkers?
  • What skills have you developed in your current position?

Come with a mental list of the accomplishments you’ve made so far in that position and how they’ve bettered the company as a whole. “Approach him or her with confidence, with purpose, with justification and with ammunition. Ammunition is multiple reasons why you deserve a promotion. Go in there with reasons why you deserve the promotion. Not just, ‘I’ve been here for so many years so I deserve it’. It’s, ‘Over the last two years I’ve accomplished this, this and this, and it’s contributed to the bottom line of the company,” said Barberitos owner Russell Miller. Go in there confidently and prepared with ammunition to use if necessary. Leave your boss zero reasons to say no to you.

Step 4: Calculated Execution

Now it’s time to put the past three steps into action. You’ve already started dressing for the position, so you have a noticeable confidence about you. You’ve stayed at the office later than usual on the daily. You’ve also practiced your words in the mirror to the point that they’ve become engrained in your mouth’s muscle memory. You know why you deserve this position. You’ve researched the opportunities within the company and you know your goals. You won’t get stumped by any question. Now you execute.

Wake up at least 20 minutes early. Take a shower to wake yourself up without coffee. Drink a cup of green tea to get your metabolism rolling. Stretch it out for five minutes to release your nerves. Head to the office, or wherever your boss commands, and talk to them privately. Remind them what you’ve done for the company in the time that you’ve been there. Finally, pop the question. Tell them you believe you deserve the promotion and that you’d like their feedback. You’ve set the question up perfectly. Now, you wait.

“When I asked my boss for a promotion, I didn’t want to sound too cocky about myself. But then again, if I’m not cocky about me, no one else will be. So, I rehearsed in my head, ‘You deserve this promotion, so you will get it.’ The hardest part was the awkward silence after I spoke. It took him about 15 seconds to collect his thoughts, then after a lifetime he finally agreed with me and admitted that I had really great points. That was a plus,” said FSU sophomore Gracie Friedl. Your boss said yes, and you got the promotion. Now you’re a boss. (Not really. He’s still your boss, but figuratively, yes, you’re the boss.)

Step 5: What to Expect in the Aftermath

Every job has a different way of promoting people. Depending on your position and the way they run the business, you may get promoted the next day you come back, or you may get promoted over the next few months. You may receive a dramatic pay raise, or you may receive no pay raise at all. If your job doesn’t offer pay raises and recurring promotions and you operate best with extrinsic motivation, though, then it may not be the right job for you. Accept the promotion graciously, and reconsider if you feel uneasy about little room to grow in the business.

Another thing up in the air to keep an eye on? What exactly you’ll do in this new position. You may continue with the same daily tasks, just under a new title, but you may learn a whole set of new skills over the time it takes to solidify your promotion. The one fact that doesn’t waver across the board, though, is that they will require you to do more work. More will be expected of you after you’ve received the promotion, no laziness or procrastination allowed. Prove to your boss that you feel grateful to have the position.

Caution: A promotion can feel overwhelming. You belong to stand there in your position, and you can freaking do it. “I was nervous getting a promotion because I had no clue what to expect after. I went in blind, asked for the promotion and landed it luckily. I was now a shift leader at my job, and I was responsible for locking the store at night and training new people. This felt like a sh–t ton of pressure at first. I had new responsibilities and that’s terrifying, but after the first few days I started to realize I was meant for that position. I was meant to boss people around. Just kidding. Kind of,” said FSU senior Jake Stein.

No matter the amount of pressure you feel on your shoulders, remember that you wanted this. This will only open you up to numerous opportunities. Take a deep breath. Relax. And slay.

I'm a senior at Florida State University who's fueled by avocados and chocolate raisins.

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