So you’ve been putting in long hours at work, volunteering for extra projects, and kicking ass and taking names on every task that you’ve been given. It’s only natural that you want to see the fruits of your labor be rewarded with a bump in pay. Unfortunately, expressing the desire for a salary increase is often a lot harder for women to do than the actual work they did to warrant the raise. Studies show that men are four times more likely than women to ask for a salary increase. Often the reason for this disparity is that women feel that they will be perceived as “bossy” or “demanding,” or they simply don’t have enough confidence in the value that they bring to the organization to justify asking for a higher salary. Unfortunately, some members of the workforce do apply these derogatory labels to women, but the fact remains that if you don’t ask, then there is a 100% chance that you WON’T get that salary increase, potentially leaving thousands of dollars in lost earnings on the table over the course of your career.
Here are six tips to help you prepare for asking for, and negotiating, the salary you deserve.
1.Bring Your Receipts
Women have a tendency to be “’the strong silent type.” We are typically a strong background force, getting things done amid chaos without breaking a sweat. We’re taught at a young age to make things look effortless, even when they are not. Often, all the hard work that women do tends to go unnoticed because we make it look so easy and don’t like to advertise our accomplishments. When preparing to ask for a salary increase or a promotion, write down all the things that you have done, all the goals you have accomplished, and how the work you have done has brought value to the organization. Come to the table with specific, quantitative contributions: you’ve reduced expenditures by 25%; you’ve increased revenue by 40%; you’ve increased employee retention by 10%. Emotions are subjective; numbers are not.
2.Know Your Worth
This means not only knowing what personal value you bring to the organization, but knowing the market value of your current position. Utilizing websites such as Glassdoor, PayScale or an international salary survey platform Paylab will give you a snapshot of what the average salary is for your position based on location, industry, etc.
Having this information readily available will help build the case for the salary increase you think you should receive. It also shows that you have put thought into this, done your research, and feel strongly about the idea that a salary increase is warranted. Assertiveness, much like flattery, will get you everywhere.
3.Timing Is Everything
Though most companies like to schedule salary increases and promotions in conjunction with annual performance reviews, laying the foundation for it should start weeks beforehand. This gives your manager time to review your request and provide you with feedback and gives you time to respond well before the submission deadline for salary increases. Also, people tend to suffer from “what have you done for me lately” syndrome, so take the time to start planting the seed for a potential promotion or salary increase after the successful completion of a major project or a high-profile accomplishment. It is much easier to justify a salary increase when your manager has LITERALLY just seen the value of the work you do.
4.Build And Expand Your Tribe
The saying “membership has its privileges” comprises some of the truest words ever spoken. Most successful people have attained their level of success by leveraging their networks. A mentor once told me that if you want to be successful, attach yourself to people who are where you see yourself in five years. Expanding your network to include people who are higher up in the organization not only helps your career growth, but they can provide input on whether your salary increase or promotion will be approved. Being visible to key decision makers in the organization is essential. This does not mean brown-nosing your way into a promotion; rather, by networking with senior employees, you give them a better idea of the work you do, the potential you have, and you show your ability to effectively interact with employees at various levels of the organization—all good attributes to add to your case.
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5.Be Forward Thinking
You have a laundry list of accomplishments that you have garnered thus far, but now what? How will you build on these accomplishments? What value will you bring to the organization going forward? Business is constantly changing and evolving and employers want to know how employees can contribute to the growing success of the organization. It’s not good enough to say what you’ve done; you must show what you plan to do. In addition to listing your accomplishments, make sure you provide your manager with a roadmap of how you plan to build on your recent successes and grow your position so that it continues to add value to the business.
6.Don’t Take It Personally
Even with the best case, you run the risk that your request for a salary increase or promotion may be denied. Don’t take it personally. There are several reasons that may contribute to the denial of your request: lack of funds, pending organizational restructuring, and a myriad of other reasons, which your manager is not at liberty to discuss with you, but that have NOTHING to do with you or your abilities. If your request is denied, take the time to inquire whether there is anything you can do in the future to be in a better position to have your request approved. Also, be honest with yourself on how you want to handle things if you do not get the answer you were looking for. If you feel that you have peaked in your current position and there is nowhere else for you to go in the organization, it may be time to start thinking about making a move to another organization, where you can continue to grow personally and professionally. Rejection has a negative connotation, but how you react to it can be the deciding factor on whether it is constructive for you.
Charlene Collier, MBA, PHR, is a Human Resources professional and Career Strategist with over 10 years of experience in various areas of human resources management, including employee relations, recruiting, talent management, change management and organizational development. A native of Washington, D.C., Charlene received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from the University of Maryland, College Park, and obtained a dual Master’s degree (HR Management and Business Administration) from the University of Maryland, University College. During her career, she has held various HR roles in several industries such as entertainment, non-profit, healthcare, and government contracting.
Charlene is the Founder and President of Capitol Consulting Group, a consulting practice providing HR Consulting Services, Career Development and Professional Brand Development to businesses and individuals alike. In addition, she serves as a Sr. HR Business Partner at MercedesBenz Research & Development North America and as an HR Instructor in the Business, Management, and Legal Programs Department at UCLA Extension. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.