Survey Finds Rampant Workplace Abuse, spring 2001

It's nice to believe that if you work hard and stick around long enough, your employer will recognize your talents and promote you. But you may be fooling yourself. Sometimes you have to pluck up your courage and ask for what you want.

So when should you take the plunge? If your company has a set review schedule, that's always a good time to ask for a promotion. If your company does not conduct reviews, or if you feel confident that you have progressed enough to warrant a promotion before review time comes, take it upon yourself to initiate the conversation.

When the time comes for that fateful meeting with the big boss, it's important that you're armed with the facts. Remember, your boss doesn't care about your mortgage payments or how much you need the money. You have to argue for a promotion on the basis of your value to the company. Keep records on your accomplishments, so that you can prove your worth as an employee. Include:

  • Projects that you have undertaken that are outside your job responsibilities. Be sure to highlight those that you initiated and not just the ones you executed.
  • Outstanding successes of any of your projects
  • Training you have received, especially on your own time. Things like classes, seminars and conferences should be included here.
  • Management roles you have had and how those you supervised performed while under your management.

Bring your list with you to the meeting, and don't be shy. Go in with specific demands, and rehearse your arguments ahead of time. Be polite, firm and confident.

You won't get everything you want, but you'll definitely be better off than if you had never asked. At least you'll know where you stand.