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CEOs Explain The Right Way To Ask For A Promotion At Work

Asking for a raise or promotion can be incredibly awkward. But it doesn’t have to be.

Americans need a promotion.


With stagnating wages for the middle class and deep feelings of economic uncertainty, there may be no better time to ask for more money and responsibility at your job. The question is how and when do you it?

Do you ask your boss directly? Do you go over his or her head? Do you aim high and bargain? Do you ask casually or keep it formal?

There’s plenty of advice online, but these three business leaders may take the cake for best advice:

Joel Peterson has plenty of advice (see video below) for those who want to ask for a promotion at work. As the Chairman of JetBlue Airways Corp., he should know better than most. Peterson, a giant in American business and the author of The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great, says that the key is elegance and tact.

“If they’re respectful. If they do it in a way that they’re listening. If they don’t have a big agenda and they’re trying to arrive at the right answer. That makes a huge difference. You can hear then,” said Peterson.

David Goldin, founder, president, and CEO of Capify, also told Business Insider that younger people looking to get promoted should be making themselves a strategic asset to their managers by finding out what metrics they are measured by. He said:

"The good news is, millennials are actually the most creative, entrepreneurial, and technologically savvy of all in the workforce. They can be a tremendous asset to any growing organization, as long as they understand how to overcome these perceptions and help their managers unlock their potential."

Former Hydro Flask CEO Scott Allan additionally recommends making lateral moves to know the company better. The former head of the stainless-steel water bottle company told Men’s Health:

“What I learned the hard way is that sometimes you go sideways, sometimes you take a step backward, and then other times you take a big leap forward.”

If that’s too vague, there’s plenty of advice online. Just about every business-oriented website has a list of steps to “Getting That Promotion … Right Now.” You can find a few tidbits of advice here, here, here, and here. But don’t worry about clicking around, we’ve boiled it all down to a few points:

  • Be a valuable employee: You can’t get promoted if you’re not very good—or at least appear to be very good.
  • Know your stuff: Show why you’re good and why you’re ready for the next challenge.
  • Approach your boss: Well, approach the person who’s above you and likes you and ask them for a meeting.
  • Be friendly: Kindness and courtesy go a long way.
  • Focus: Concentrate on your development as well as why it’s good for the company.
  • Confidence: It goes a long way.
  • Be straightforward: Tell your boss what you want and why you want it in simple terms.
  • Do the follow-up: If it doesn’t work out, make sure you know when it might and what the future holds.
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