Recently I posted several tips to help Women with their Executive Presence. The final tip in that series was: Ask for a raise if you find out that a colleague is being paid more than you are for the same work.
My last post took a look at what to avoid when asking for more money. Today I’ll focus on what to do when gearing up to ask for that bigger paycheck.
It’s about Value
In the same way that many of us will pay $1.95 for a Grande Blonde Roast at Starbucks when you can get a perfectly good cup of coffee at the local diner for 50¢, people and companies pay for value.
Do your research and know your value.
Before you schedule a meeting with your boss to ask for a raise, do your research and know your value. Check out: Getraised.com, Payscale.com, Salary.com or Glassdoor.com to find out how your current salary compares to industry standards.
If you belong to a professional association look at their website(s) and see if they have salary information available.
Some of my clients have figured out what they are worth by looking at job postings in their field. Others have taken this idea one step further and applied to a few of those jobs and went on interviews. This gave them both the confidence to ask for the raise—and proof of their market value.
Do know your number.
Once you’ve done your research, figure out what you think is a fair amount of money for the work you do and keep that number in mind when you ask for the raise.
Be intentional about your number. If you know that someone in your organization is doing similar work and getting paid more, ask for a raise on par with what that colleague is making and wait to see what your boss will offer.
If you are using numbers from outside the company to justify your request, give your boss a range for the raise you are seeking. (Make sure you are happy with the number at the bottom end of the range.) Be sure to explain your thinking. You can say something like:
“Considering how I’ve contributed to the company and after a lot of research, plus the fact that it’s been x time since my salary was last reviewed. I’d like you to consider an increase of $5,000 to $7,000.”
And then stop talking! At this point in the conversation, silence is your ally.
Never say yes to an offer immediately. Think of the first number they provide as an initial offer and continue to negotiate if you feel you are being undervalued.
Also, be clear in your own mind if you are asking for more money for the current job you are doing. Or, if you are seeking a promotion. Or, if you are interested in a different role altogether.
Do ask for—and give—endorsements.
Be strategic in your preparation. Knowing that companies pay for value, it’s important to demonstrate your value in a timely fashion. Get other people in your company, or your clients, or even vendors to endorse your work. Even more important is show how your work has helped them.
It’s not as hard to get an endorsement as it sounds.
Right now think of someone you work closely with that has helped you and that you have also helped. Offer to send a note to their manager complimenting their contribution and ask for them to do the same. (Note: Don’t send your notes on the same day!)
The more a boss hears about how your work has helped the company achieve its goals, the stronger you will be positioned as someone deserving of a raise. In fact, simply taking the time to compliment someone else’s work has a similar impact. You will be seen as a team player, someone who is thoughtful and goes the extra mile.
Do create a personal kudos file
Another way to demonstrate your value is make a list of all of your accomplishments and bring it with you to the meeting. Focus specifically on the achievements that have been important to your manager and your department.
I have one client that is often quoted in the newspaper as an expert in her field. Her boss knew that she was the “go-to person” for media requests, but he didn’t know how often she’d been sited. When she brought in her file of over 10 articles it clinched the deal on her raise.
Think about how you can highlight your strengths and talents. Share your ideas about how you can improve your department or role. Let your boss know that you have a desire to do more to help him or her achieve the department’s goals.
Do be creative
This is a conversation about overall value, not just your paycheck. Be prepared with a list of additional things you can negotiate that are valuable to you too:
• more vacation time
• better benefits
• flex time
• a later start time
• an earlier end time
• working from home one day a week
• four 10-hour days a week rather than five 8-hour days
• an assistant
• less travel
• more travel
• a company car
• an office with a door
• a parking spot
• a monthly travel pass for local transportation
• investment in your professional development
• job share
Asking for a raise may feel awkward. One way to build your confidence is to practice what you are going to say beforehand. Getting your thoughts organized will build your confidence and help you manage nerves. Start positive. Something like:
“I enjoy working here and find my projects challenging.”
Then shift to:
“In the last year, the scope of my work has expanded. My roles and responsibilities, as well as my contributions have increased. I’d like to discuss the possibility of reviewing my compensation.”
“I’d like to discuss my career with you today and how I can do my best work.”
Do be patient.
Remember, your manager may need a few days to consider your request. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get an instant: yes.
There’s also a chance that your boss isn’t the final decision maker. He or she might have to go higher-up the chain with your request.
Do decide what you will do if you don’t get the raise you want—or if you get turned down. Your answer, of course, will depend on what your boss says.
If there is a skills gap, see if you can create a professional development plan with your boss. As part of that plan, include a timetable of when it will be appropriate to revisit the top of compensation again.
If you’ve been turned down because of your performance, ask yourself if the criticisms are valid. If they are, think about what changes you can make. If they aren’t, it might be time to move on.
Which of course will give you the opportunity to use all of these tips when you negotiate the salary for your new position.