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How to get promoted in 6 months without working yourself to death

Getting a promotion isn't as hard or scary as you think. Here’s how to get a promotion in 6 months or less in 3 simple steps.

Ramit Sethi

Imagine this just happened to you:

  • After 3 years of working with the same company and getting nothing but pitiful 1% to 3% “cost-of-living” raises, you decide you’ve had enough. You want more responsibility, pay, and challenging work.
  • You schedule a meeting with your boss and artfully ask for a promotion
  • Without flinching, she says, “Yes. Let’s do it!”
  • And to your surprise, you get a promotion AND a $55,000 raise — on the spot. No push and shove. No back and forth, just getting the promotion you deserve.

Sound crazy?

It’s not. That actually happened to one of my students, Chris B. He used the same 3-step process I’m going to show you today to get a big promotion in less than 6 months.

Quiz: What is your earning potential? Choose the answer you agree with the most
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And it’s not just Chris who’s used this system. It’s worked for thousands of other people. Take a look at some of their results:

Now, it’s your turn. Here’s how to get a promotion in 6 months or less in 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Build your promotion playbook (6 months out from your promotion date)

If you want to set yourself up for a promotion, you’ve got to ASK how to get one.

I know, I know. This sounds obvious, but most people never think to take this critical first step. They just stay later and later. They take on more and more work. And they mistakenly think their boss has to notice someday…right?

“If she REALLY cared about the hard work I was doing, she’d HAVE to promote me eventually, right?”

Not true. You can’t expect your boss to just dole out promotions when you do your job.

Remember, your promotion is a two-way street. You have to know what they need from you, AND they have to know what you need from them.

There might be a few critical things that would make your promotion a no-brainer. Things you’d never know about unless you ask.

So here’s the best way to ask your boss about getting a promotion (without seeming desperate or needy).

Simply ask them out to coffee or lunch and, after catching up for a bit, follow this word-for-word script:

You: Hey [YOUR BOSS’S NAME] thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I’m excited to talk about my position and what I can do to be a top-performer this year. If you open to it, I’d like to discuss that with you today.

Your boss: Sure.

You: So the way I see it, my role can be broken down into 3 main areas: A, B, and C. I think I’m doing pretty well with A, and I’m picking up B pretty rapidly. And I need a little help with C, as we discussed before. Does that sound about right to you?

Your boss: Yes, that sounds right.

You: I’ve been thinking a lot about these 3 areas and how I can take them to the next level. I have some initial thoughts of my own, and I’d be happy to talk about those, but I’d like to get your thoughts first. In your eyes, what would be the most meaningful things I can do in these 3 areas to be considered a top performer?

Your boss: Hmm…Maybe Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3.

You: Yeah, I completely agree — we’re on the same page here. So here’s what I was thinking: Specifically, I’d like to achieve goals X, Y and Z and I’d like to do all this in 6 months. That’s pretty aggressive, but I think it’s do-able. Would you agree that’s something that you’d like to see from me, and that it would also help peg me as a top performer?

Your boss: Yes, it would. That sounds perfect.

You: Okay, great. I appreciate it, Jim. So I’ll get to work on this and keep you in the loop with a status update every 4 weeks as usual. The last thing I’d like to talk about is: If I do an extraordinary job, then at the end of the 6 months all I ask is that we sit down to discuss a possible compensation adjustment. But let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, OK?

Your boss: Sounds fine. Looking forward to seeing what you can do.

You: Great. I’ll type up these notes and send them to you then. Thanks again

BOOM! Asking these questions instantly gives you a massive leg up for three reasons.

  1. It shows that you’re proactive. Most employees are passive — they show up to work every day and wait to be given something to do. But when you take this approach, you’re setting yourself apart from your peers. And you’re showing all the telltale signs of being a high-caliber employee — the exact type of employee that your boss wants to promote.
  2. You’re making your boss’s life easier. You’re essentially doing all the heavy lifting for them, which is a HUGE weight off their shoulders. Your peers make your boss come up with goals their goals for them. But you’re taking an entirely different approach and making it easy for your boss to say “yes.”
  3. You’re getting an exact promotion playbook. When you ask what it takes to be a top-performer in your job, your boss is practically handing you the keys for a promotion. This is important. If you develop those skills and hit those key benchmarks, how could they NOT promote you?

This information from your boss is pure gold. The only thing you need to do after that is execute.

Step 2: Tackle your promotion playbook (2-6 months out)

It’s time to tackle the items in your promotion playbook.

These are the benchmarks you MUST hit, if you’re serious about moving up as fast as possible.

Having said that, don’t let this overwhelm you.

If you’ve got aggressive goals to hit, you can achieve them without working all day and night.

But to do that, you have to do MORE of what’s important and LESS of what’s not.

Maybe you can stop checking Facebook 3 times before lunch? Maybe you can batch your emails to get them all done in 1hr vs 3hrs? Or maybe you can stop going to morning meetings and just get a report from your colleagues instead?

There are a lot of tactics you can use (see some of my productivity systems here), but there’s only one critical strategy I recommend: Review and track your performance goals daily.

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re grinding every day. But when you’re looking for a promotion, the last thing you want to do is look up and say “Dang…What have I accomplished over the last 3 months?”

To stop this from happening, review and track your goals on a daily basis.

Set up a simple calendar alert to remind you when you first get into the office.

Rather than working on it for an hour at a time, just spend a 10 minutes whenever you can. The key is consistency. Each day, ask yourself, “What do I need to do today to move closer to my promotion goals?”

Make that your first task of the day.

Remember, other people are not doing this — at all.

So when you spend even half hour each day working on additional projects, you will shock your boss by how much you’ve accomplished at the end of 6 months.

Once you’re done checking off the items in your promotion playbook, you’ll be ready for the final step: preparing your briefcase.

Step 3: Make it impossible for them to say no (1 month out)

If you’ve made it to this point, you’ve become a top-performer and set yourself up for a great promotion.

But you can’t just walk into your boss’s office and demand a promotion.

You need to SHOW them the value you’ve added. If you do this — rather than getting a promotion once and never hearing from your boss again — you’ll set yourself up for promotion after promotion.

You can show your value with my Briefcase Technique. Check how it works:

Notice that your promotion is almost an afterthought.

Your boss: “Of course, I’m promoting you! Look at all you did the past 6 months and look at what you’re going to do over the next year. This is amazing!”

If there were any doubts in your boss’s mind, you just put them to bed with this simple presentation.

The last piece of the puzzle is knowing exactly what to say. That way you get the pay and responsibility you deserve.

The word-for-word scripts to nail a huge pay raise

If you’re worried about what to say when it comes to negotiating with your boss, I’ve got a word-for-word script you can use.

All you’ll have to do is walk into your review, follow this script to a “T,” and walk out a few minutes later with a 10-50% pay bump (on top of your promotion).

Enter your name and email below for instant access to the video that walks you through exactly what to say.

The word-for-word scripts to nail a huge pay raise

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