While you’re making your New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym, eat healthier, and meditate more, add “rise up at work” to the list. The most opportune time to get a promotion is during your annual review.
In fact, at many companies, the only time of year that employees are eligible for a raise and promotion is during their annual review. The pressure is on and the stakes are high, so you’ll want to go into it as prepared as possible.
Most employers try to wrap up annual reviews by the end of January, so if you haven’t had yours yet, these are a few things you can still do this month in order to ace your annual review and set yourself up for success in the New Year.
Don’t wait until the night before your annual review to write down all your accomplishments (or worse, try to wing it during the meeting).
“Preparing for the review should be a yearlong process of you continuously tracking and monitoring your skill development and goal achievements as they happen,” says Larissa Holmes, vice president of customer development at the Toronto-based performance review software company WIRL.
There are three benefits to keeping a list of your wins: It helps you highlight any accomplishments that have been overlooked by management; it helps you build your case for a raise or promotion; and it helps you achieve your goals throughout the year.
“It has been proven that tracking your goals helps motivate you to actually accomplish them, generally contributing to personal development,” says Holmes. “As an added bonus, leadership will likely be impressed by your initiative and take that into consideration in their review.”
If you want to make the case for a raise, you need to tell the story of how you’ve made money for the company and become more marketable over the year. Even if you’re not in the kind of job where you can use numbers to demonstrate your success, there are other ways to show how you’ve helped your company’s bottom line.
Angelina Darrisaw, founder and CEO of the New York City-based career-coaching firm C-Suite Coach, recommends describing how your achievements have contributed to the company’s success. Before your annual review, she says to take your brag sheet and use it to tell a story about your strengths and how you’ve exceeded expectations and furthered the company’s growth.
Similarly, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, president and CEO of the Jacksonville, Florida-based resume consultancy Great Resumes Fast, says to create a list of professional courses, certifications, or credentials you acquired throughout the year. You’ll show that you’ve proactively invested in your career growth and performance (and that you are more of an asset to the organization).
If you’re asking for a raise or promotion, it’s not enough to show that you are good at your job. You have to show that you’ve outgrown your current role and can take on additional responsibilities. (And if you’ve already taken on more responsibilities and gone above and beyond, now is the time to mention it!)
“People get raises because they’ve earned them, so don’t include things like your own increased expenses or length of service,” says Nancy Halpern, an executive at the New York City-based executive coaching firm KNH Associates. “Show that you’ve added value beyond expectation and have more to offer.”
Halpern recommends making a list of the responsibilities you’ve taken on that are above your current title. Then research the title and salary for the promoted role. Bring those stats to your meeting when it’s time to ask a raise.
Be proactive with your goal setting to show your manager that you’re serious about working hard, making change happen, and getting ahead.
“Create a list of the top three career goals you have for yourself in 2017, then plan how you want to make those goals come to life,” says Darrisaw. Bring this list to your meeting and talk about it with your manager.
“Make sure you walk away with a targeted plan for next year. If your manager says you need to improve on something, ask, ‘How will we measure my success and growth in that area?’” she adds. “Ask questions like, ‘How will we know if I’ve exceeded the expectations?’ The most important thing to do is work to ensure you and your manager have shared expectations of what success in your role looks like.”
A version of this article originally appeared on Monster. It is adapted and reprinted with permission.