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A counterintelligence expert says asking yourself one question can help you get a promotion

Ask a career expert what to talk about in a cover letter and they’ll inevitably tell you to make it about the company — not about you.

It doesn’t really matter that you desperately need a job; it doesn’t matter that this particular gig would look great on your résumé. What are you offering the organization that they don’t already have?

Even once you’ve landed the job, that mantra — make it about them— can come in handy. Specifically, when you’re gearing up for a promotion, it’s critical to think from your manager’s perspective.

That’s according to Robin Dreeke, a Naval Academy graduate, a former Marine, the former head of a federal behavioral analysis program, and a current FBI agent. Dreeke also recently co-authored “The Code of Trust” with Cameron Stauth.

“I never think in terms of convincing anyone of anything — I think in terms of inspiring them,” Dreeke told us when he visited the Business Insider office in August. “If you want to move into a position of leadership, or you want to move up in the company, the first thing to ask yourself is, ‘How can I inspire them to want me?'” Following is a transcript of the video.

ROBIN DREEKE: So, you want to get promoted, and you want to if you want to use the words convince, management that you’re the guy for the job, or woman for the job.

The first question I ask myself all the time is I never think in terms of convincing anyone of anything, I think in terms of inspiring them. So, if I want to get a promotion, I want to get a raise, or any of these things, the first thing I ask myself is: “How can I inspire them to want to?”

And so if you want to move into a position of leadership, you want to move up in a company first thing to ask yourself is: “So how can I inspire them to want me?” And the first way you can inspire anyone to take action and want you to do anything is you’ve got to understand what’s important to them.

How do they see prosperity? What can you do to make their job easier? And how can you do it so it’s in terms of them and what’s important to them.

Someone once asked me, “What do you think about the 30-second elevator pitch?” I said, “30-second elevator pitch is fine as long as you’re talking, offering your skills in terms of you’re talking, offering your skills in terms of what’s important to them, otherwise, it’s completely wasted words.”

So, any time I’m put in for a position, or anyone’s put in a position — demonstrate your skills. Put all those things down, those ego-gratifying moments. But don’t do it for self-serving reasons, do it so you can demonstrate how these skills and attributes you have are going to be there for them to be a resource for your bosses to be successful and for the company to be successful, so it’s no problem touting your own skills and abilities and demonstrating that, but only if it’s in terms of the priorities of others.