Kelly P. Hernandez is the founder and CEO of Financechic.com, an independent personal finance site for women. After 15 years of working in male-dominated Wall Street and Silicon Valley, she's made it her mission to help women take charge of their money. And, when she talks about getting a raise, you know we're going to listen.
Here's the sobering (and all-too-familiar) reality: Chances are you’re performing better at your job than some men, yet you’re probably making less. Don’t sit back and just hope to get noticed. Study after study shows men ask for raises more often, negotiate more for compensation, and ultimately get paid more than women — all for the same job.
You could sit and sulk about this, or, you could go ask for a raise. How? It’s important to be analytical and not emotional. ("Sure, I'll double your salary because you're angry and bitter," said no boss ever.) So, here's how to make that big request deliver the big money you're looking for.
Make a list of your specific accomplishments and how these have improved since the last time your compensation was reviewed. Highlight how this compares to your peers (without naming names). Review, recite, and memorize this list. Then, schedule a meeting and discuss this with your boss. Do this three or four months before raises are awarded, giving your boss time to act. Don’t jump the gun, though – asking for a raise before you’ve held your job for a year is a bad idea.
During the discussion, if things are going well, provide your boss with a number you expect for your raise. Try to discreetly find out your peers’ pay range — both at your company and elsewhere — and ask for a number above the average. If you already earn more than average (go, you!) then ask for a number at the high end of the range. If you’re unsure what your peers make, ask for a 15 to 20% raise. Remember, this is a starting point for negotiations, not an ultimatum, so don't rigidly hold on to a number.
Of course, your boss could say no. The most important thing in this situation is not to get emotional. Don’t cry or overreact. Listen to your boss's explanation. If it’s related to your performance, take the criticism to heart and improve on those things. If it’s because of company issues — bad timing, salary freezes — then ask for a title increase or something else non-monetary, and ask again for a raise in six months. Also, remember that other opportunities exist, and it may be time to interview at other companies. Nothing proves you’re worth more than a better competing offer. (One that you’ll negotiate higher before you even start.)