The Big Ask

So, you’ve been working hard, growing professionally, and increasing your value to your company. You put in the TIME and the EFFORT. Now, you want a promotion / raise / bonus.

Unfortunately, most of the time, your employer isn’t going to just give you a promotion. You’re gonna hate this, but you’re most likely going to have to ask for it.

Between rigid corporate structures, established norms and relationships with supervisors, our affinity for modesty, and tendency to avoid “tooting our own horns,” it is tough to muster the courage to ask for what we want. It’s made even tougher because nowhere in college or our career training or our personal lives, were we ever taught how to ask for promotions, raises, and bonuses.

Here are a list of general guidelines that I have found to be helpful to me when asking for a promotion or raise:

  1. Meet and discuss your performance with your supervisors regularly; this will make sure they notice your contributions as well as make sure you actually are, in fact, earning the promotion, raise, or bonus you seek
  2. Do your homework: learn your company’s policies on promotions, raises, and bonuses – know what the next step is so you know what to ask for exactly
  3. Prepare for and rehearse your request: whether you practice in the mirror in front a friend, or write notes on what you want to say, have a strategy so that you don’t freeze
  4. ALWAYS ask IN PERSON. DO NOT ask over the phone or by email. First, it’s harder to reject someone in person. Second, it’s more professional to ask in person.
  5. Schedule a meeting for it. Don’t try to ask on a lunch break or in the hallway or in the bathroom. It will be weird and awkward and make you both feel very uncomfortable.
  6. Manage your expectations. You already know you’re going to get one of two answers: Yes or No. Be prepared to accept either answer and keep an open mind to learn why you got that answer. You may get all of what you want. You may only get some of what you want. It may be a compromise.

Promotions, raises, and bonuses aren’t given; they’re granted. Sometimes employers initiate it, but most of the time we have to take our careers into our own hands.