Do You Still Need to Send the Above Zone Letter?

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The standard advice has always gone something like this:

“If you are above zone, you need to send a letter to the promotion board so that they know you are still trying to promote. Otherwise they won’t pick you.”

Now that they no longer stamp officer records with “AZ” (above zone) and they look exactly the same as those records that are in zone, do you still need to write a letter to the board? Has the standard advice changed?

Reasons to Send a Letter to a Promotion Board

I addressed this in a post from a few years ago entitled “Should You Send a Letter to the Promotion Board?” I still agree with just about everything in that post, except for this:

“…you should always send a letter to demonstrate interest in getting promoted when you are above zone.”

In my opinion, you no longer need to send a letter just because you are above zone. If you have another reason to send a letter, then please do. If you are just sending one because you think you have to, I think that is no longer necessary.

The FY18 O6 board convening order states on page 2:

“…in determining which officers are best and fully qualified for promotion, you are required to equally consider both above-zone and in-zone officers.”

What if You’re Not Sure?

As you might imagine, I get asked a lot whether someone should send a letter to the promotion board. This is my standard response…

Pretend that you did not send a letter to the board, the board is over, and you were not selected for promotion. Are you going to be kicking yourself for not sending the letter? If the answer is yes or maybe, then send the letter. As long as you keep it short and sweet, there is no real downside.

Frankly, I think that when officers send letters to promotion boards they are often just making themselves feel better, and there is nothing wrong with that. You want to make sure that when the promotion board results come out, no matter what happened, you feel like you did everything you could to get promoted.

The Bottom Line

If you are above zone and want to send the letter just so there is no regret, feel free, but it is definitely not required to be considered for promotion.

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