Who doesn't want to make more money? Of course, closing the distance between what you make and what you want to earn may mean asking for a raise. And who wants to do that? You, according to Money magazine.
"Statistically, you've never been more valuable," it said. "The job market is spectacular, with unemployment at its lowest rate in nearly 50 years. Worker retention has also plummeted—voluntary quits rose more than 50 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—and hiring managers are scrambling to hang on to top talent."
But workers in general, and women, in particular, are still ever-so-reluctant to ask for more money. Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise, according to Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock, co-author of “Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide”. But anyone who draws a paycheck feels at least a little awkward pressing for a higher salary or hourly rate.
If you want to increase that success rate, you must be mindful of factors ranging from the economy to your job description to the time of day and even how many clients you can afford to lose if your request fails.
To take away some of the anxiety, here are tips from experts and others who have been there, done that.
Behave like someone who makes more than you do. "We've all heard the advice 'dress for the part you want,' but it's just as important to behave beyond the pay grade you want," career consultant Rebecca Horan told Money. "When you walk into that meeting to request a raise, the goal is to have them be surprised—and maybe even horrified—when reminded how little you are making."
She encouraged workers to raise their profile by "taking initiative beyond your role, mentoring others and being endlessly reliable."
Make a conscious choice to ask for a raise, especially if you're a woman. According to a 2018 Harvard study, women received a raise when they asked 15 percent of the time, compared to 20 percent for men. Female CEOs gave The Zoe Report some ideas on how anyone could do better when asking for a raise, but particularly women. Bianca Gates, CEO and co-founder of Birdies, advised women against trying to keep it light by casually bringing up the request. "In my experience, the best conversations regarding a raise happened after I had done my homework on why I should be making more, as well as understanding what 'more' is and knowing the right time to ask," she told The Zoe Report. "Simply asking for more money because you think you deserve it is not enough."
Leave emotion out of the equation.
"I firmly believe that women (and everyone, for that matter) should take the emotion out of the ask," Away co-founder and CEO Steph Korey told The Zoe Report.
"You should never feel bad about asking for something you've proven you deserve, so if you have the results to show your impact and output, go for it."
Go ahead and write down all your evidence and bolstering arguments, but for you, not your boss, Korey added. "It will give you a clear picture on what you've delivered for the business and give you the confidence to articulate it. Sometimes seeing it on paper will offer the necessary perspective so that you don't underestimate your abilities or the value you bring to the table."
Know your worth. "What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing," according to Payscale, which offers a free calculator to help raise seekers understand how much more they can expect to earn.
The calculations come from salary and career data collected from more than 54 million workers with 16,000 unique job titles. A few of the specifics that impact an individual's market value include the city where you work, the number of employees at your workplace and benefits ranging from weeks of paid vacation and sick leave to whether you're allowed to work remotely or have a casual dress atmosphere. Payscale then pops out a "snapshot" letting you know the hourly or salary range for similar work in your area. While no employer will take this as a mandate to give you a raise, it can give you the confidence to know how much more your work is worth.
Quiz yourself ahead of time. Gates also told The Zoe Report that workers should prepare answers to these questions before asking for a raise:
- How much less (or more) do you make than co-workers doing the same work?
- Have you exceeded work expectations and done so consistently?
- How much more money do you deserve per hour or added on to your salary?
- What's your logic behind settling on that number?
"Do your research, put together a compelling reason, and you'll find that not only will you get that raise, but you'll impress your boss in doing so," she said. "Double win!"
Tread lightly as a freelancer. Since you're your own boss, it can be simpler to ask for a raise. After all, you set your rates, right? On the other hand, your client doesn't have as much invested in your career growth or work-life balance as they would for an employee.
When you don't work in a traditional office, "the pathway to a raise looks a little different," according to LinkedIn. "Ask for too much and the client might not renew their contract. Ask for too little and you could be left feeling overworked and underpaid. It's a fine line to walk." If the project you're working on has broadened in scope, LinkedIn recommended talking to the client ahead of performing newly added duties.
A good sample statement: "The going rate is this and I recommend we bump the hourly rate up to this or expand the project rate to this amount which covers X number of extra hours or X number of rounds of extra work," design director Jake Kahana told LinkedIn.
Another good rule of thumb for freelancers: Re-evaluate your rates every year or so, according to Atlanta-based independent marketing consultant Holly Neumann. Don't make too big of a deal asking for more money, or the client will too, she advised. And be willing to let a few jobs go by the wayside in the process. "When you raise your rate, you've gotta be willing to let some people go," Neumann told LinkedIn. "You've got to work smarter, not harder, and work for less people for more money is always a better thing than to spread yourself too thin for too little."
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