In her book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, Mika Brzezinski talks with some of the world’s most influential women about their struggles to earn the respect they deserve in the workplace and being paid what they’re worth. Read an overview of the book here.
Asking for a raise is one of the hardest things a woman will do in her career. Even women like Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, admit to having struggled when it comes to asking for more money.
She shared her experience accepting the role at Facebook with Brzezinski, “I just felt lucky to have the opportunity…I thought the offer was great and I was going to take it” But, her brother-in-law kept saying ‘you gotta negotiate…you’re taking on all of this responsibility…why are you agreeing to make half of what any man would make to do this job?’. That was enough to motivate her to ask for more.
“I went in and asked, and they moved up considerably. Had I not asked, they wouldn’t have. But the reason I wouldn’t have asked is because I just felt lucky to have the opportunity.” – Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg
This sentiment is echo’d by Brzezinski throughout the book as she takes the reader through the ups and downs of asking for her own raise. The following tips are a combination of advice from her many interviews and her own experience.
The Dos and Don’ts of Asking for a Raise
1. Get really clear about what’s considered success in your role
Don’t be shy about asking what’s expected of you and how you’ll be evaluated.
2. Document your success
You’re working your tail off. Make sure your accomplishments are visible. In fact, we can learn something from the boys in this area who naturally keep score.
Make your success tangible: showcase the impact you’ve made to the company.
At LLH, we have a folder in our email inbox where we keep emails filled with thanks and appreciation from from clients and colleagues. When review time comes around, we go through the folder to collect examples of successes and tangible feedback.
3. Do your research: have a complete picture of your market value
and worth to the company
Know what other people are paid in similar organizations with your experience and background. Does the company require a specialized skill that you and only a few others in the company have? If so, don’t be ashamed to use that to your advantage. Be ready to talk about how this skill helps you contribute to the success of the company.
4. Always choose your timing carefully
You’ve heard this a hundred times: timing really is everything
5. When presenting your case for a raise, tap into the interests of the organization
Professor Hannah Riley Bowles has done research that supports the idea that playing the victim is unlikely to work. Instead, explain why the raise would make sense (and have a positive impact) to the person you’re talking to and the organization as a whole.
6. Keep the conversation going
Be open to proposing an alternative to a raise or a timeline for a salary review in the near future. Then hold the person to that. Don’t be strung along, but do be prepared to negotiation for other things if a increase in your pay is not possible.
7. Be ready to walk if you can’t get what you need
Being ready to walk isn’t just a mental thing. In fact your ability to negotiate from a strong position, requires you to know that you can walk. That is, your finances are in order, your network is strong and you’ve chatted with a few other companies to keep options open. Suze Orman says, “A woman can only be powerful when she doesn’t need the money, otherwise she can’t be powerful.”
1. Don’t Apologize
Don’t apologize for asking for setting up the meeting, for asking for the raise,
for taking their time. Just don’t. If you’ve done the “Do’s” in the list above, you have no reason to apologize.
2. Avoid Emotion
It just doesn’t work. It takes your power and control away and makes you look weak. If the conversation incites emotion for you, compose yourself and practice the conversation until you can deliver the message in a confident, calm tone.
3. Never Play the Victim
As More Editor Lesley Jane Seymour says,
“…you have to realize that it’s not a manager’s job to support your causes, whatever they might be…companies can’t say, ‘oh, i feel sorry for you.’” Instead, explain why you deserve the raise: you’re hard working and you’ve made a tangible difference in the company.
What do you think of Brzezinski’s advice? Have you tried any of these?