5 (Fail-Proof) Ways to Negotiate a Raise
Ladies, Iceland is making some moves.
At the end of March, lawmakers in that country (where women make on average 18% less than men) introduced a bill that requires employers to prove that men and women are paid the same for equal roles. It was the first of its kind, and let me be the first to say, it’s about damn time.
Unfortunately, America has not jumped on that bandwagon (yet – fingers crossed). Women continue to make 78.6% of what men earn in similar positions, which means the homes we can afford are 20% smaller than those of our male counterparts. It means our cars have to be 20% cheaper, and vacations must be taken 20% less often. It means we have to work until April 4th (yes, over 3 months) each year to earn what men did in the previous year. And it’s partially our fault.
Um, did you just say what you think you said? Yes, I did. Now just hear me out.
In their book, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever dive into the gender gap and point out that part of the reason we earn less is because of one fact: we ask for less. Take a look at these statistics from their book:
Women negotiate 30% less than men, and when they do, they ask for up to $16,000 less.
In a study of masters students entering the job market, male students were 8 times more likely to negotiate a higher starting salary than their female counterparts, who were more likely to take the first salary offered
By not negotiating their starting salary, women could potentially be giving up over half a million in earnings over the course of their career
Makes you kind of sick to your stomach, doesn’t it? Me, too.
So let’s change the statistic. Let’s be the ones that close the wage gap year after year. The numbers show it: we have to be the ones to take responsibility for our future, and that includes how much money we bring home.
If you feel you aren’t getting paid what you’re worth and need some guidance, I’ve pulled together 5 fail proof ways to help you negotiate a raise. Make sure you have each of these checked off your list before stepping foot into your boss’s office, and you’ll be well on your way to #ladyboss status. Here we go.
1) Do your job and do it well
Rule #1: Do your freaking job and do it well. And that is the bare minimum.
No one is going to throw more money at someone who can’t complete projects on time or submits sloppy work, so before you go any further in your path to getting a raise, make sure you’re currently kicking a$$ at what you’re already expected to do. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re excelling, then you probably aren’t. (Ouch. Harsh.) But if you still would like some feedback, ask your boss if there is anything lacking in your work and how he/she would like you to improve. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to step 2.
2) Show you're a good investment
Doing your job well is great, but you’re already getting paid to do your job. If you want a raise, you need to go above and beyond your current responsibilities to show you’re an investment worth making.
How exactly do you do this? Well, there are a few tricks you can use to demonstrate your value, except they aren’t tricks and take a bit of hard work.
For one, you can become the resident expert in one facet of your job. When I worked at the CPA firm, I became the guru of Schedule M-3’s. Boring, maybe, but it made me a valuable member of the team.
Or you can show you’re a team player by staying late to finish a project or help a co-worker finish theirs. Maybe pitch an idea and take the lead on seeing it through, start to finish. Whatever you can do to prove that you are dedicated and valuable to the company now and in the future is going to prove instrumental to seeing more cash in your bank account.
3) Do your homework
One aspect of raise negotiations is to figure out how much additional income to actually pursue. I mean, how do you actually know what is reasonable for your situation?
I’ve included a few websites below to help you answer those questions. These give a good baseline for the salary range for your position within your geographic location (because let’s be real, a job in NYC better pay more than the same position in Indiana) and will provide a good starting point for the amount of money you ask for.
Now, don’t be limited by what you find. If you feel you bring more value, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more (if – and only if – you can prove you’re worth it).
4) Come with ammo
The moment you walk into your boss’s office to talk about your salary, you need to have ammo in your pocket that is going to sway them into being open to the idea of a raise. Even if you are a stellar employee, you need to offer something to them in return for forking out more money for you. Here’s your arsenal:
Added Responsibilities: Maybe you’ve noticed your co-worker can’t manage one of her clients or that your boss has taken over tasks that should fall on someone else. Offering to take responsibilities off the plates of those who are overworked or can’t seem to find the time to complete everything on their to-do list shows your boss that you are a) willing to take on a bigger role in the company and b) a team player. Word to the wise, though: don’t be generic. You want to come with specific examples of tasks you’ve personally noticed have fallen by the wayside. And if you don’t know what those are, ask your co-workers. They’ll be more than willing to get your help on something they can’t fit into their schedule.
Take the Lead: Offering to lead either a project you have proposed or one that your boss has been wanting to implement (but hasn’t had the time to pursue) will give you the opportunity to prove your value. It may mean that you have to wait a little while longer to get that raise, but it will also give you time to show you can handle taking on more responsibility, which is what your boss really wants to see out of you before increasing your pay anyway.
5) Be willing to negotiate
Listen, I am heavily involved in the budget process at my current job, and sometimes, there just isn’t room for increased payroll spending. And that sucks. But it doesn’t mean that you still can’t negotiate better terms for yourself.
Try to think what would suffice (for now) in exchange for higher pay. Maybe that’s working from home on Fridays or getting 5 additional vacation days a year. You could see if they would increase the match percentage on your 401(k) or be willing to discuss a bonus plan. Maybe they’d pay for you to attend a conference or for dues to a professional organization you’re a member of.
Make a list of a few of these before going into your meeting so that you have a counter if they simply state that a raise is not in the cards. It will show you want to stay with the company and are willing to compromise.
Remember, for most of us, asking for a raise isn’t a comfortable process. However, no one is going to hand us more money just because we think we’re great, so if we want it, we have to go get it. Prove your value, demonstrate you are commitment, and go show the world you’re a true #ladyboss. We’ve all got your back.
Brittney is a CPA in Indianapolis who loves any & all carbs and in her spare time runs the blog Britt & the Benjamins, which is focused on helping people, especially women, achieve financial independence and kill it in their careers.