We’ve heard this story before: you’ve been working at the same job for a few years, maybe promoted once or twice, but still living paycheck to paycheck. You know you deserve more, and yet you punch in and out every day in silence. Men are four times as likely to ask for a raise than their female coworkers — even though we’re still only making around 78 cents to their dollar. So what gives? You’ve gotta ask! Here’s how.
1. Timing is everything. Set yourself up for success by finding a good time to approach your boss. At 5:30pm on a crazy-busy Monday? Probably not the best time. The day after the company releases a dismal earnings report? Probably not the best time either. After you’ve received a reward, stellar performance review, or praise from a client? GREAT time to make your move. Let your boss know that you want to speak with her “today at her convenience,” which accommodates her busy schedule while putting a solid deadline on the conversation. Bonus: by asking for the time with her ahead, you make sure you won’t chicken out!
2. Do your homework. Don’t go into the conversation blind; studies show that women who approach a raise without a set, reasonable number in mind are less likely to climb the paygrade.Talk to friends (both male and female) in similar industries to see what they’re making, and read up on averages for your industry and level of experience on sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com. These sites allow you to search geographically, which is important as you decide what you need to live on in your area. And remember: the idea isn’t to get a raise to get by, but to have a little extra to save. So shoot on the high end of the averages you find; you never know, you might get it!
3. Gather your evidence. Be prepared with specific examples of your stellar performance and positive feedback that you have received from colleagues and clients. You don’t need an entire laundry list of the awesome things you’ve done at work (we get it, it’s a long list) but a few key examples that demonstrate the qualities of a superb employee including professionalism, work ethic, creativity, and cooperation. Recall a few important lessons you have learned during your time at the company, and express the desire to continue to learn and grow within that environment. Your employer will be more likely to invest in you if they see the raise as having long-term value.
4. Put community first. Of course, we know it’s all about you, but it’s important to respect your relationship with your boss and coworkers. After all, the numbers on your paycheck may change but you’re still going to be working with the same people! So frame the discussion around your role within the company. Think of yourself not as a single moving part, but as a valuable asset to the company at large. Demonstrate how your performance has positively impacted the company’s performance. Finally, let your boss know that you respect her opinion by concluding with “what do you think?”
5. Get creative. Sure, a salary bump is the most typical method of raise, but there are lots of other ways to reward your performance, and some might be even more valuable to your current financial and personal situation. Perhaps it’s a more robust healthcare package, which will help to mitigate your monthly healthcare bills. Or you can ask for better stock options, or to be included in the company’s bonus structure should they have one in place. Have a long commute or kids at home? Negotiate for one day per week of working from home. Whatever you ask for, the point is to know your worth and to make work work for you.