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According to a Fortune 500 CEO

By Alan B. Miller
March 17, 2016

The Fortune 500 Insiders Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Alan B. Miller, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services, has answered the question: How do you ask for a promotion?

The advice I would give to anyone asking for a promotion is simple: Be honest with yourself first. Sadly, this is easier said than done. Before asking for a promotion, ask yourself if your past performance merits recognition. Ask yourself if you have the skills and drive to succeed and flourish in the job to which you want to be promoted. Be very practical and honest. Make a list of your key achievements, and then evaluate whether they indicate that you’re ready to meet the challenges of a more senior position.

It’s imperative you do this. Review the achievements in your current job and research the desired position to ensure your qualifications and performance merit the promotion. You want to be able to match your strengths and weaknesses to the role you’re seeking so you can be prepared to make a case for taking on a bigger role. If you’re honest with yourself about your experience, and it matches what’s required of the promotion, then you’re in good shape to move forward.

If, however, after having an honest review of your performance and capabilities you don’t feel you’re quite there, then wait. This can be a tough one for ambitious professionals, but you could do far more harm than good by pushing forward too fast. Being aggressive in your career is a great thing, but it can backfire if you move too fast when you’re not ready. You want to ensure you’re truly prepared to do the job you desire, otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Work with your manager to build the kinds of skills you need. Just like in sports, you might be in the minor league now, but you’ll be called to the major league when you have shown promise, determination, and achieved results.

As CEO of Universal Health Services UHS , I have seen promotions resulting in great success over the course of a career, as well as promotions that have resulted in major setbacks. Regardless of the time or place, talented people who are aggressive and who want to perform at a top level are the ones who ask for promotions. But the ones who do it in a way that is beneficial for their careers do the right homework before asking. First and foremost, you must be honest with yourself and ensure your timing is right before you can move to the next level. If you’ve performed well and are qualified, you deserve that promotion.

Alan B. Miller is chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services.

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