There are a number of ways to increase your chances of advancement in today’s Air Force. Taking the time and memorizing the Professional Development Guide is one way, maxing out decoration points is another and finally; being selected as a “Must Promote or Promote Now” via Forced Distribution increases your chances as well. This is especially true for the ranks Senior Airmen through Technical Sergeant.

The question isn’t “Why are we racking and stacking E-4s as if they were headed to the E-7 boards?” Although it may superficially seems so…

The question is “What can I do to increase my odds of moving up?”

While it may seem like a crap-shoot for a higher Forced Distribution rating, there are ways to make you more competitive vs. your peers. Hence the title of this blog. There are a number of Airmen who self eliminate by not competing well. Here’s some helpful tips to aid you in your quest:

1. Lead… everything. Upcoming project? Ask to lead it if you can. No volunteers for a base function? Lead it.  Airmen’s Council, 5/6 or Top 3 needs a effort lead?  Jump on it like it’s on fire.

2. Be better at your job than your rank requires you to be.  Just don’t be a jerk about it.  If you just said “that’s not me” in your head, it’s probably you.  Just sayin’

3. Embrace reality.  Everyone thinks they are great. Just look at the EPR’s of your supervisors. It’s like someone photocopied ratings that once stood, and made a book out of them. With that said, know that in reality most people are not truly among the best, but can certainly strive to be. Judge yourself vs. your peers rather than your ego.

4. Awards. Don’t fool yourself and think that awards via achievement or awards for performance mean nothing.  And telling yourself that these things are for “woodchuckers” and people who don’t do their job is a very shallow way of thinking. It’s one of the best ways for people who are reviewing your record, that your leadership endorses you.

5. Continued Education. Whether it’s a CCAF, B.S/A. or a Certification, the Air Force promotes you getting your education on. Even as recently as the CMSAF announcing that PDUs (Professional Development Units) are going to be a reality.  Plus it adds to your resume once your service is done.

6. Testing.  We’ve seen the numbers. Folks with low decoration points and a “Promote” statement get promoted like everyone else. But taking the time to score a 75 or higher usually ends up in being selected for advancement. Period.

7. Find a mentor.  Walking through life without direction seldomly gets you to the finish line in a timely manner. Find someone who’s been there and latch on for dear life. When it’s said and done, do the same for someone younger than you.


8. Followership. Making rank in the military is comparable to playing chess. If advancement is in your goal plan, then it’s a long game that you’re setting yourself up for. I’ve always found that if you are making sure that your supervisor is being taken care of, they will take care of you. And no good leader ever made it to the top without understanding what followership means.

The chips may land where they do, but make sure that the odds are in your favor by doing what’s needed to compete on a level playing field.





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