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Phoenix Forward

How to set the stage for a raise or promotion

How to move up at work

If you’re tired of getting passed over by other people in your office for a raise or promotion, it may be because you haven’t stretched yourself enough in your current job.

According to Dennis Heins, who has worked as an Air Force civilian personnel officer and is currently an instructor in the University of Phoenix MBA program, if you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder, it’s not enough to simply do what’s required — you’ve got to take responsibility for your career.

Heins advises anyone seeking a raise or promotion to take the following steps to ensure you're succeeding in your current position and using it as a stepping stone:


Be clear about your current job requirements.

Be sure you know what’s expected of you in your current position. If you have any degree of confusion, sit down, Heins advises, and ask your supervisor to specifically outline your duties and responsibilities — and any expectations.


Go beyond expectations.

Once you understand what’s expected, “focus on meeting and, whenever possible, exceeding those requirements,” Heins says. “You won’t be able to consider moving forward until you feel confident you’ve mastered the skills required in your job.”


Request feedback.

Make sure your boss knows you’re interested in receiving input regarding the areas where you’re performing well and where you could improve. “If your boss is not a voluntary kind of person who gives feedback frequently,” Heins says, “you need to request it.”


Ask for a professional development session.

After performing at or above expectations in your boss’s eyes for anywhere from three months to two years, depending on the nature of the work, request a career counseling session.

This is where you sit down with your supervisor and express interest in learning more about the organization; tell your boss you’re interested in training opportunities, as well as taking on more challenging or highly visible projects, which may require more work.


Repeat these steps.

Whether or not you’ve been given new responsibilities, you need to keep repeating steps 1–4 until the feedback from your superior starts consistently sounding like, “You’re doing fantastic work,” or, ”You’re performing well above expectations.” Once that happens, it’s time to consider asking for a raise or promotion.


Keep timing in mind.

“It’s critical to consider your timing,” Heins cautions. You wouldn’t want to ask for a raise when your organization is in the middle of tightening budgets, and for a promotion, you want to be sure the company is not downsizing. If the timing’s not right, you will have to keep cycling through steps 1–4 until you sense it's a good time.

Looking to be promoted to another division? Make sure your boss knows it. “A good manager,” Heins says, “should be happy to put in a word for you at the right opportunity.”

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