You’ve likely heard the stats that women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes and that to be successful, you’ve got to lean in. But, that knowledge alone isn’t exactly raising the number on your paycheck. That’s why we straight went to career experts to distill the eight secrets to figuring out what your market value is — and what you need to do to make your boss give it to you!
Illustrated by Isabelle Rancier
1. Prove Your Worth. You want your boss to want to give you the cash — and the best way to do that is to show how much more valuable you’ve become to the company since you’ve started. “Write down everything you do, and create a folder of any accolades, client e-mails praising your work, or major projects and accomplishments. Refer back to these during your meeting with your boss,” suggests Nicole Williams, LinkedIn Career Expert and author of Girl On Top. Also, take the time to clean up your social media profile, if you haven’t already. “Depending on your industry, your boss may do a quick search on social media to track your influence and merit,” says Williams. If she does, you want her to see smart industry retweets, not #sohungover hashtags.
2. Get A Little Gossipy. Salary sites like glassdoor.com can give you ballpark ranges of what you should be making. So, start there, but then fine-tune your intelligence. One way to find out if your offer is on par with what other people are paid is to ask people in the industry who are a few years above you. Ask them if the offer fits into the range they expect for the position. Another way to get some inside intel if you don’t have any resources in your immediate social circle: "Do a search on LinkedIn and find people who’ve worked in the industry, explain you’re doing some salary research (without mentioning a specific employer) and ask them what they believe the salary range should be for X position," suggests Williams. Those numbers will give you a sense of where you should be aiming when you go talk to your boss. “Your request has to be backed by data,” explains Morgan. “If you ask for a 10% raise when everyone around you gets 5%, you’ll be so far out of the ballpark that it will be hard for them to take you seriously.”
3. Get The Timing Right. Before you schedule the Big Ask, make sure it’s the correct time of year, says Morgan. “Some companies only give raises during an annual review, while others may only be able to bump up your salary during a certain quarter.” Annual review just passed without a major pay increase? Schedule a meeting anyway, but focus more on what your boss thinks you need to do to get to the next level. “Scheduling regular meetings where you discuss progress is an important part of the raise process,” says Morgan.
4. Have A Plan B. Sometimes, the red tape surrounding a salary bump makes it hard for your boss to give you a raise, even if he or she wants to, warns Celeste Hilling, CEO of Skin Authority, a skin-care company. So, think of other stuff you may want, like an extra week of vacation, more flex time, or even a clothing allowance, if your industry calls for it. “Employers have more flexibility granting these perks than they do a raise, since a salary increase also leads to increased taxes for the employer,” explains Hilling.
Illustrated by Isabelle Rancier
5. Have An Ally. Does your boss always go to lunch with the same set of people? See if you can get one of them on your side. That’s what Cassie*, an editor at a woman’s magazine, did to finally score a new title and a salary bump. “I knew my boss could be unapproachable, so instead of first going to her, I asked someone below her if I could talk informally about my career over coffee. She opened up and explained exactly what I had to do to make my boss notice me. I did what she said, and three months later, I got a salary increase.”
6. Shop Around. It’s not disloyal, it’s good business, especially if you’re absolutely set on a raise. “Don’t issue an ultimatum,” warns Williams. Instead, if you’re offered another position, let your boss know the truth: You’d love to stay and work with her, but another company is offering a higher salary, and you can’t turn that down. But, only say that if you’re honestly ready to head over to the company in question.
7. Drop The Dead Weight. It’s a sad truth: You may be dealing with details flawlessly, but your boss is all about the big picture. So, anything you can delegate to someone underneath you — admin stuff, filing, etc — do that, so your boss can see you shine in your element. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be doing your job; only that you should spend the majority of your time on the stuff that directly helps the company, explains Hilling. Spending an extra hour making sure a client is blown away by a presentation is awesome. Spending an hour waiting in line at the FedEx place to mail a package? See if there’s a way you can delegate the task to someone else.
8. Extra Tasks = Extra Paycheck. Some industries may hire freelancers to do certain tasks, like write press releases, copyedit proofs, or do design work. If yours is one of those, ask your boss if you might be able to take on that work for additional money. That’s what Jen*, an assistant at a publishing company did. “My boss hired outsiders to copyedit manuscripts. I asked if I could do that, and he said yes … and even though it wasn’t entirely okay, I sometimes did work on the manuscripts during downtime at the office. I didn’t tell my boss, but I didn’t keep it a secret, either.”