Women in the Workforce: Asking For a Raise
Truth time. Asking for a raise is hard. (Just watch this scene in the movie: Defending Your Life when Albert Brooks asks for one…and prepare to chuckle with empathy.) Furthermore, in today’s current work climate, where there is always a deadline looming, it is so easy to put your employer’s needs ahead of your own needs to ask for a raise. After all, you’ll ask for that raise next week, when things slow down a little bit.
But that would be a real miss.
In fact, failing to negotiate raises early in your career can affect your income for decades to come. Let’s say you negotiate a salary of $50,000 instead of $55,000 when you’re 25 years old. Then tack on a 10% raise every year for the next 40 years. You will compound more than $500,000 in raises in the long run if you start with a mere $5,000 more in the first year of your career.
So. Raises really matter.
Now that you see how much money is actually on the table in the long run, you may find yourself ready to tackle this professional task. And you’re wondering…where do I start? Here are my tips for asking for a raise.
Working Moms: Don’t Discount Yourself
Women, especially those who are raising families while working, will sometimes discount their own value to their employer because they feel like their attention is split. They won’t ask for a raise because they feel that they don’t deserve it. I’ve heard some women say” “I am doing Motherhood half-way AND my job half-way.” All I have to say to that is: have a little faith in yourself. Lucille Ball once said: “Want something done? Ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” And, it’s true. Mothers can multitask like no one else. Just because you’re balancing work and raising kids doesn’t mean that you’re doing less than your co-workers. Give yourself a break. Moreover, it certainly doesn’t mean that you should expect less in return from your employer.
Know Your Value: Part I
When you’re happy with your job, it is easy to forget to stay in touch with the headhunters who can propel your career, but these connections are vital if you want to have a current understanding of your value in the marketplace. Online sources like Glassdoor and Payscale are also great resources for understanding what your work is valued at so as to ensure that you’re on top of what your employer should be paying you. Bottom line: when you know what someone else would be willing to pay you, it makes negotiating with your current employer so much more powerful.
Know Your Value: Part II
When you ask for a raise, structuring your request around accomplishments is a smart approach. But, when you’re thinking about your accomplishments, focus especially on the ways that your work has brought dollars to the bottom line. Make the raise less about recognition and more about profit sharing. If you’re not in sales, it can be hard to position your work in terms of profits. But trust me, that’s exactly what your boss is doing. So, for instance, if you are in HR, and fewer employees have resigned their positions with your company that year – then that brings measurable dollars to the bottom line. Emphasize that point. If you’re in accounting and your work has resulted in fewer interest payments hitting the profit and loss statement, underscore that point. Remind your employer that you are responsible for the profitability of the company will help your case. Money is power. Use it.
It cannot hurt. Really.
And, if you are turned down for a raise this month, you do not have to wait another year to ask again. Set a goal to ask again in 90 days. Regroup. Recharge. And Revisit!
If you keep being passed over for the raises that you feel that you deserve, then by all means, seriously consider starting your own business and reaping the benefits of your hard work. Some women think that working for themselves will be less secure than a full-time job. However, I assure you, there is nothing more secure than working for yourself. After all, no one will ever look out for you better than you will. You will always have your own best interest at heart. When you work for yourself, no one can fire you. No one can deny you your share of the profits. No one can overlook you or your efforts. The best way to make your dreams come true is to make them come true yourself.