In this day and age, new jobs are scarce and unemployment is still a very real possibility. Because of the uncertainty we’ve all grown accustomed to, you might find yourself skittish when it comes to making certain requests in the workplace. Of course, a two-hour martini lunch and a new suite of Apple hardware may be out of line, but there are certain things you should never be afraid to ask for at your job. Read on to learn what they are, and how some of them may actually improve your career.

1. An Acceptable Lunch Break

Are you constantly being bothered during your lunch break? If there are no set parameters for when to take your lunch, or how long you have, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little clarity. The U.S. Department of Labor does not require that an employer offer a lunch break, however your particular state’s laws may differ. Consult your employee handbook and the labor department of your state before approaching your boss. If you point out that you prefer a specific time each day to get away and recharge your batteries, you just might get the answer you’re looking for.

2. Ability to Provide Input

If you’re never asked for input on projects and you think you have something valuable to offer, ask for permission to speak up—this goes for projects you’re not directly involved with as well. Employee input can go a long way toward improving the overall success of a project, and after you’ve commented successfully on a few initiatives, it’s sure to be encouraged even more.

3. Performance Evaluation

Ask your supervisor for timely performance evaluations if you don’t already receive them. Affirm your commitment to meeting and exceeding company expectations, and mention that it’s going to be easier for you to achieve your goals if you receive regular feedback regarding how you measure up.

4. Letter of Recommendation

There’s nothing wrong with asking for a letter of recommendation if you happen to leave your job. Just be sure you know who to ask. Choose a supervisor who values your work and thinks highly of you, then be polite and let everyone you contact know that you understand if they decline. Offering a draft form of the recommendation letter is another solid strategy for success.

5. Workable Schedule

If you’re unable to adhere to your current work schedule, ask if an adjustment can be made. Employers are much more understanding nowadays when it comes to family commitments and outside responsibilities, including second jobs. Just be sure to provide a solid list of reasons why your current schedule is difficult and how you can better perform with an altered one.

6. Assistance With a Heavy Workload

You do neither yourself nor your organization any good trying to meet the expectations of an unreasonable workload, so if your boss is simply putting too much on your plate, speak up. If you need help from others, ask them for it. Alternately, ask to whom you can delegate certain tasks in order to better focus on the priorities you’re charged with.

7. More Responsibility

If you are doing a stellar job with your current workload, go ahead and ask for more responsibilities. It’s exactly what your bosses and supervisors want you to do, and it’s a great way to pro-actively advance your career.

8. Proper Tools to Complete Your Job

If you don’t have everything you need to do your job competently, say something. Companies and supervisors have supply budgets to comply with, but shortages around the office do affect productivity. Politely mention that, just be sensitive regarding the company’s finances. Your manager may not know you don’t have what you need.

9. To Be Treated With Respect

If you’re not being treated respectfully, whether from a co-worker or a supervisor, speak up. Again, your boss may not be aware so it’s in your best interest to mention it. No one else is going to.

10. Better Communication

Does your supervisor communicate clearly with you? If not, express your concerns. Most managers are busy and they might not even know that your ability to perform is being hindered by their communication style. Of course, tact is key here. Restate to your manager the instructions you’re given just to be clear that you’re on the same page.

This article from money crasher gives your some details about developing effective workplace communication skills.

The Don’ts

Now that we’ve talked about some of the things you should ask for at your current job, let’s talk about some of the things you should not request. Do not ask for a raise—especially if your company is struggling—unless you’re long overdue or have very solid achievements to back up your request. Don’t ask other employees to pick up your slack unless you’ve done the same for them in the past. Don’t ask for a promotion if you know you’re not fit for the job, and refrain from asking for any sort of special treatment. Jobs are political. It’s important to know when to speak up and when not to. Finding the right balance can benefit you personally and professionally, and just may benefit your employer as well.

What do you think you should ask for at your current job?

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