Episode 165: August 3, 2012
by Lisa. B. Marshall
This week we’ll pick up from where we left off with 3 more tips on how to successfully ask for and get a raise. In Part 2 of this series, I explained that the way to get that salary bump or promotion you’re seeking is to take on highly visible, mission-critical projects because they lead naturally to the opportunity for increases and promotions. Second, I talked about the importance of actively seeking sponsors and mentors to help you get placed on those important projects. Today, I’ll give you 3 more quick and dirty tips to help you ask for a raise or promotion without damaging your professional relationships.
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Tip #1: Research What Others Are Making
Once you’ve become visible within your organization and you’ve had some success, it’s time to start your planning process. In order to understand what specific increase you should ask for, you first need to be aware of the typical salary range for the position at your company. Here’s where a sponsor or mentor can really be helpful—he or she can guide you on what to request.
Another option, a very bold option, is to consider asking your colleagues. Realize however, that you risk hurting your relationships by asking for such private information. However, also keep in mind that some people don’t mind sharing and knowing compensation details can be very helpful to both of you. Oh, and if you do decide to ask colleagues, ladies, don’t just ask other woman, be sure to include men in your inquiry as well because you’ll likely find their answers to be different.
Also make sure to check out the salaries of your position at sites like glassdoor.com and vault.com. These are useful resources where people share their compensation information. You could also review payscale.com or salary.com to determine the average earnings in your industry or position.
A word of caution: Salaries often vary dramatically based on the geographic location of the job.
Finally, one last option to consider is to find out what the market will bear by actively interviewing for comparable positions. If you do receive offers from other organizations, this certainly gives you more concrete information to consider. However, think carefully about if you want to bring up the fact that you have outside offers. Certainly you can use that information strategically, but understand you may risk creating a negative impression. By directly stating that you have other offers on the table, you’re telling your current organization that you’re not as interested in working there as you were in the past. So unless the outside offer is real and is a seriously option for you, it’s better to use that information only to help you determine the amount you should request.
Tip #2: Ask Smartly
Once you know what you want, it’s time to ask. For women, this is the tricky part; it’s a fine line that women need to tread when negotiating. It takes a combination of confidence and a focus on maintaining relationships. According to research, women may be able to escape the social risks of negotiation by demonstrating concern for others and concern for the relationships.
The key for a woman is to express her need for an increase while appearing, warm, friendly, and non-threatening by focusing not on herself and how it would benefit her, but instead on why it would be good for the boss, the group, and the organization as a whole.
For example, let's say you have a particularly unique skill. You could suggest that an increase to your salary would improve your standard of living, giving you more flexibility in terms of your schedule. This would mean more time and flexibility to work on projects that are important to the company’s success. It would make you more available when the boss needs you. Of course, you’d also want to mention how his success with those projects would also benefit the company’s bottom line.
Similarly, if you’re asking for a promotion, you would need to show that with a higher level within the organization you could leverage your skills for even more significant results.
If you can quantify the benefit you bring, all the better. How much revenue was generated as result of your work and how much new revenue is likely? How many new clients did you bring in and how many could you bring in with the new position? What percentage did customer service improve and how might it improve in the new position? It's very hard to argue with numbers. Again, first talk about how much your skills currently bring to the organization and then talk about how much more would result from the promotion.
Tip #3: Practice
The next step is to practice. I suggest practicing with a friend or using your video camera. Again, keep in mind that you need to be viewed as friendly, cooperative, and most importantly, concerned about the greater good of the company. The tone of your voice needs to be calm, professional, and confident. Smile and state your case matter-of-factly. The idea is to very concisely present the value you bring, then ask, "What do you think?" or "How do you feel about my contribution?"
Don't fill the space. Wait for a response.
If the feedback is negative, respond with another concise version of the value you bring to the organization and be sure to keep the same tone in your voice. Don't ever position a raise as an ultimatum: "Give me a raise or I'm out."
If ultimately the answer is no, don't treat that no as final; treat it instead as a “not yet.” Ask, "What would you recommend I do to achieve this goal? Can you help me put a plan into place?" Then listen, take notes, rinse and repeat all the steps.
However, if you’ve followed all the steps from Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, there’s a very good chance the response will be positive and the only thing left to do is celebrate.
This is Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication; the more you learn, the more you earn.
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