The thought of having a discussion around salary negotiations can leave us feeling uncomfortable, out of place, and out of line. Though we often have grounds for making certain demands, our confidence can be easily challenged with undermining thoughts of “What am I thinking! I’m too new, too young, too inexperienced! Wait your turn!” This situation is all too common as a majority of US workers held back from asking for a raise in 2017 out of fear of having to negotiate. This can become especially problematic, as failing to negotiate can leave up to 1 million dollars on the table over the span of your career. This however, does not, and should not be the case. Statistics show that January is one of the best months of the year to negotiate your salary, so be resolute, and make your demands this new year with these 4 practices in mind.
Build yourself a case they can’t refuse
Before speaking to your boss about all the reasons you think you deserve a raise or promotion, have a solid answer to each of these questions:
1. What have you done to add value beyond your job description? Can you find a way to quantify these achievements? We all get paid to do our jobs well, so simply performing and completing your tasks is not grounds for promotion.
2. How does promoting you help the organization? Will promoting you create a headcount reduction, or increase efficiencies on your team?
3. What exactly are you asking for? Go in with a firm case for what you want and don’t expect your supervisor to make the ask for you! Take the time to research your realistic value in the job market though sites like Glassdoor.
Bring any limiting self-beliefs to surface and challenge them
In order to advocate for yourself, you need to confidently be your own cheerleader. By challenging your limiting self-beliefs, you reduce the likelihood of them getting in the way of your own success. Some thoughts that may diminish confidence include:
“I’m not experienced enough to ask for this”
Hmm… Think again! This might be somewhat true, but experience, knowledge, and expertise are not always measured by numbers of years in service. 70% of people don’t always feel like they have the required experience and feel a sense of imposter syndrome-- don’t let that stop you!
“I’m replaceable, asking for this will just make me look bad”
Job titles are replaceable, expertise are not. When you leave an organization, you leave with all that institutional knowledge, best practices, relationships, and valuable processes that only exists in your head. The cost of lost knowledge, along with hiring someone new can run an organization up to 150% of your annual salary.
“I can’t ask for a promotion; I need to wait until my leaders think it’s time”
Yes you can, and you should! In fact, your male counterpart is 4X more likely to have already made the same demand.In addition to this, when women graduate college or business school, they often demand approximately 20-30% less money than the men.
Practice Makes Perfect
Treat this kind of conversation as a business presentation which requires rehearsal. Consider sitting down with a friend or mentor and role play what you will say. Anticipate any objections that might come up, and prepare a rock solid response. Actually saying the words out loud to another person will make the conversation with your leader much less intimidating and reduce the likelihood of you stumbling on your words.
Balance patience with persistent
In any organization, big or small, these kinds of changes take time. If you’ve requested a promotion or raise, it’s important that you give your leaders sufficient time to work with the compensation team, re-organize team structures, and manage their own budgets and workflow to meet your demands.
Though your leaders may have your best intentions at heart, they often have other agendas which are likely much higher priority items. With that in mind, make sure to hold your leaders accountable by creating some kind of paper trail (even though conversations should happen in person, always best to have emails as proof of some of their promises and obligations), and make sure it stays top of mind.
In a perfect world, we assume that hard work will always lead to the recognition and reward we deserve. In reality, this is not always the case, and we often need to put ourselves in a position to negotiate. This becomes especially true with gender disparity, as men are still 30% more likely than women to get promoted in the early stages of their career. You may be surprised when the conversation goes well, and you get the promotion. Conversely, the timing might not be right, but that does not mean you should give up and stop trying. Nobody will manage your career better than yourself, so be your own cheerleaders this new year, and remember, you won’t get what you never ask for!