The end of 2016 is nearly upon us, and many of us are beginning to look back at our accomplishments from the past year. But even if we are confident that we deserve a pay increase, women often shy away from asking for a raise. According to NPR, “men are four times more likely than women to ask for a salary raise,” which, in turn, contributes to the ever-present gender pay gap issue we face in this country.
What gives? Many studies and articles have conflicting ideas on the why. Some research says women are not advocating for themselves as much as men, while others say men simply are getting more raises than women despite the fact that women are asking just as much.
But if you are ready to have that conversation, there are some steps you can take to better present your case and see the results you want. We chatted with Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, and Lynn Berger, career counselor and coach, to lay out eight tips for earning more of that cold hard cash in 2017.
“For women, a secondary challenge is to overcome the fear of negotiation. I have often heard my female clients say that it is far easier to negotiate aggressively on behalf of someone, or something else,” Cohen says. He says many of the questions he hears from women are similar: “Do I deserve it?” and “Am I bold enough?” But he asserts that if you don’t serve as your own advocate, no one else will.
Do your homework
Cohen says there are a few important questions you need to ask yourself before even thinking about putting the topic of a raise on the table. “Are you doing the work of two? Have your responsibilities expanded to replace colleagues who may have been peers and/or senior to you? Has a raise been implied but not awarded?” Answering those questions and keeping a record of your accomplishments will make it easier to come into the situation with confidence.
Practice, practice, practice
Once those questions have been answered, it’s time to prepare. Lynn Berger, a career counselor and personal coach, says practicing your arguments for why you deserve a pay raise “will make a difference in delivery and results.” Like anything else, the more you do something, the better you become at it.
… then develop a game plan
“It is all a matter of perspective and knowing that what you want you are entitled to and deserve,” Cohen says. He adds that asking your boss to meet in a more “informal setting” can lay the groundwork for a formal ask. “Express your gratitude for the opportunity to work there and for their ongoing support. Explain that you wanted to meet to review your work,” he says.
Be your biggest advocate
While it can seem intimidating, the way you present yourself is the way your employer sees you. Berger says it’s important to maintain a neutral yet affirmative tone when talking financials, but stresses the importance of listening and knowing “the person wants to know what is in it for him or her. Use phrases like ‘I need’ and ‘I must’ to bolster your point of view during the discussion.”
Make your own opportunities
A great way to stay at the forefront of your employers mind is to network and cultivate relationships in your own company. Cohen says it’s imperative to think outside of the box or your team in hopes of growth. “Seek out and cultivate appropriate, internal advocates and support. These are the people who will promote you and your good work. It is essentially non-aggressive evangelism. They may be managers senior to you in other departments, vendors, or peers,” he says.
While important, money is not the only way your employer can reward you for performance, and working in small steps might just be more effective in the long term than requesting one large one. Berger says, if possible, “present a range of options,” and remember “there are other incentives in addition or in lieu of a raise— title and promotion, flex time and extra vacation pay.”
Look toward the future
There is, of course, always the chance that your request for a raise will be denied. It’s important to not only inquire on ways to make the raise happen in the future but to put yourself out there to be noticed and acknowledged, too. “Perhaps you can ask to be included on more high-profile and visible projects that can lead to a raise in the future,” Berger says.