Top performers are willing to put in the time and effort, which is why they can reap disproportionate rewards.
I call this “front-loading the work.”
Here are some examples of front-loading the work you can try (I cover even more of these preparation tips and other advanced career strategies in my Find Your Dream Job program):
- Doing amazing work for at least three to six months, with written praise collected from your coworkers and your own boss.
- Creating a five-page document of proof of performance, showing how you’ve added value above and beyond your job’s requirements.
- Practicing with another skilled negotiator, recording that on video, and preparing for every contingency and objection that your boss might have.
Once you’ve put in the work and have done a decent amount of preparation, you’ll want to ensure your boss knows you plan on asking for a raise or promotion.
How long would it take for you to go from an average performer (where you are now) to a Top Performer (ready to negotiate your first raise)?
Three to six months in most cases. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but three to six months is usually an achievable goal.
This tends to surprise people.
“How can I negotiate my salary three months from now? I’m just lucky to have a job.”
If you’re a Top Performer, the time that you’re at the company won’t matter as much as the work you’re putting in.
This mindset is crucial to knowing your worth. If you’re skeptical of your own value, your boss will instantly ferret it out, costing you thousands of dollars.
It is possible to demonstrate massive tremendous value in three months — even as a new graduate. Even with few skills. Even in a crappy economy.
I’ll show you how to pick ambitious goals that actually matter to your boss and work collaboratively to achieve them. These goals will be strategic to negotiating a raise, all within a tight timeline.
And here’s what those three to six months would look like:
If you don’t get a regularly scheduled performance review, don’t worry — I’ll provide all the scripts you need to get your boss to agree to a salary conversation. But the basic idea behind your Negotiation Timeline is this:
- 3-6 months before your review: Become a Top Performer by collaboratively setting expectations with your boss, then exceeding those expectations in every way possible.
- 1-2 months before your review: Prepare the Briefcase Technique of evidence to support the exact reasons why you should be given a raise.
- 1-2 weeks before your review: Practice extensively with the right tactics and scripts.
Notice that all of this is done BEFORE the actual meeting (of course, your friends will only see the results you got, not all the work you put in).
This timeline positions you best to ask for a raise or promotion.
Let’s start by learning how to set expectations for your boss.
Your boss should NEVER be surprised by you asking for a promotion or a raise. If they are, you did something wrong and your chances for success drop dramatically.
Think about it: If you simply blindside your boss, you’re putting him or her on the spot.
Nobody likes being cornered, especially regarding money and promotions. Their natural reaction will be to become defensive. In psychological parlance, they’ll experience “reactance” (which is a fancy way of saying “no way, Jose”).
Instead, prepare your boss to give you a promotion. 3-6 months before you plan to ask for a raise, meet with your boss to talk about what they want from you in your role. Ask them what you would have to do to get a raise, and make them get specific. You’re not asking for a raise right now, but just getting an understanding of what their expectations are.
Once your boss is prepared it’s time to prepare the Briefcase Technique.
This is one of my absolute favorite techniques to utilize in interviews, salary negotiations, client proposals — whatever!
First, you’re going to create a one- to five-page proposal document showcasing the specific areas in the company where you add value. Pull from the conversation you had with your boss where they told you what you’d need to do to get a promotion.
Then, you will bring the proposal with you when you negotiate your salary. When the question of compensation inevitably arises, you will pull out this document and show exactly how you’ve exceeded all the requirements your boss set for getting a promotion.
Here’s how to use the Briefcase Technique:
The last step before your negotiation is to practice, practice, and practice some more.
It’s one thing to read about how to negotiate. Actually doing it, living and under pressure, is another experience altogether. The only solution is practice.
Amazingly, most people never do this. They simply consume information and think, “Yeah yeah, I got it,” or “I’ll do it later.” But they never follow through. Yet as little as one to two hours of practice could mean the difference between success and failure.
Here’s how to do it: First, sit in front of a video camera, either alone or with a friend. Then brainstorm as many different potential scenarios as possible and practice your responses live and out loud, just as you would in front of your boss.
For example, you might practice what you’d say if:
- Your boss acts surprised or annoyed when you bring up salary.
- Your boss asks you to name a number first.
- He tries to turn you down with excuses like “It’s the economy” or “Everyone else is getting the same thing.”
Then, observe (or have a friend give feedback on) the following, and practice until perfect:
- Your words. They should be compelling and concise, and free of rambling sentences.
- Your body language. You want to be sitting up, leaning forward, and relaxed.
- Your tone. It should be professional, positive, and energetic.
This works. I know because I used to suck in interviews and negotiations. I had no idea how to ask for a raise or promotion — but then I started practicing.
When I was in high school, I had trouble landing any scholarships, even though I thought I was acing the in-person interviews.
It wasn’t until I recorded myself practicing on video that I realized the problem: I never smiled. I seemed stern and unfriendly. When I started smiling regularly, I started to nail scholarship after scholarship — enough to pay my way through undergrad and grad school at Stanford.
See for yourself the difference that even a few minutes of practice can make.
How to ask for a raise and get promoted
The Boys Scouts know it. The Lion King knows it. And now, YOU know it.
It’s the most important element when it comes to how to ask for a raise or promotion. With a little bit of preparation, you’ll be ahead of 99.9% of the population — instantly improving your chances of nailing your negotiations.
If you’ve made it to this stage, the final step is knowing simply what to say when you finally ask your boss for a promotion. You want to make the conversation flow as smoothly as possible. The discussion should be mutually beneficial so your boss sees the tremendous value you’ve delivered.
I’ve gone the extra step and included my Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise and Boosting Your Salary. Now, you’ll walk into your discussion confidently and skyrocket your odds of getting a better title and a better salary.
FAQs About How To Ask For A Promotion
How do I explain why I want a promotion?
Outline your desire to develop your skills further and offer a greater contribution to the company by pursuing this opportunity, and explain how you’ve hit a growth ceiling in your current role and are ready for the next challenge in your career.
What are the things I need to do to get promoted?
- Be goal-oriented
- Be collaborative
- Be irreplaceable
- Take initiative
- Advocate yourself
- Show leadership potential
- Stay connected
- Get involved
How do I impress my boss for a promotion?
- Own projects from start to finish
- Keep a positive attitude
- Communicate with your boss
- Create value wherever you can
- Bring in revenue
- Recognize others
- Display commitment
- Avoid office politics and gossips
- Show pride in your work
- Make your boss’ job easier
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