A Woman’s Guide to Getting a Raise

A recent study showed that while 83% of millennial women agree that it’s important to negotiate salary and/or benefits package, only 41% negotiated any part! But when we (women) don’t take control of our own lives, we lose out-whether it’s lost money, opportunities, or dignity. Men are four times as likely to ask for a raise than their female coworkers. It’s time you started asking too.

The sooner you start looking at your compensation from work as not just your salary, but as an overall package, the sooner you’ll be able get the raise or perk you need most. That might mean more cash, it might not. There are many things you can and should negotiate for other than your base salary before accepting a promotion or new job. Read on for tips on how to ask for a raise, or added perks to your current compensation package that make things that much sweeter.

Timing is everything.

Set yourself up for success by finding a good time to approach your boss. At 5:30 pm on a crazy-busy Monday? Probably not the best time. The day after the company releases a dismal earnings report? Probably not the best time either. After you’ve received a stellar performance review or praise from a client? GREAT time to make your move! Let your boss know that you want to speak with her “today at her convenience,” which accommodates her busy schedule while putting a solid deadline on the conversation. Bonus: by asking for the time with her ahead, you make sure you won’t chicken out!

Do your homework.

Don’t go into the conversation blind; studies show that women who approach a raise without a set, reasonable number in mind are less likely to climb the paygrade. Talk to friends (both male and female) in similar industries to see what they’re making, and read up on averages for your industry and level of experience on sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com. These sites allow you to search geographically, which is important as you decide what you need to live on in your area. And remember: the idea isn’t to get a raise to get by, but to have a little extra to save. So shoot on the high end of the averages you find; you never know, you might get it!

Gather your evidence.

Come prepared with specific examples of your stellar performance and positive feedback that you have received from colleagues and clients. You don’t need an entire laundry list of the awesome things you’ve done at work, but a few key examples that demonstrate the qualities of a superb employee including professionalism, work ethic, creativity, and cooperation. Recall a few important lessons you have learned during your time at the company, and express the desire to continue to learn and grow within that environment. Your employer will be more likely to invest in you if they see the raise as having long-term value.

Your employer will be more likely to invest in you if they see the raise as having long-term value. Click To Tweet

Put community first.

It’s important to respect your relationship with your boss and coworkers. After all, the numbers on your paycheck may change but you’re still going to be working with the same people. So frame the discussion around your role within the company. Think of yourself not as a single moving part, but as a valuable asset to the company at large. Demonstrate how your performance has positively impacted the company’s performance. Finally, let your boss know that you respect her opinion by concluding with: “What do you think?”

Sure, a salary bump is the most typical method of raise, but there are lots of other ways to reward your performance, and some might be even more valuable to your current financial and personal situation.

Perhaps it’s a more robust healthcare package, which will help to mitigate your monthly health care bills. Or you can ask for better stock options, or to be included in the company’s bonus structure should they have one in place. Have a long commute or kids at home? Negotiate for one day per week of working from home. Whatever you ask for, the point is to know your worth and to make work, work for you.

Whatever you ask for, the point is to know your worth and to make work, work for you. Click To Tweet

A better title.

Why be “Associate Marketing Manager” when you can be “Head of Strategic Marketing?” A new title can be just the thing to reflect all of the interesting projects you’re working on and to boost your confidence and that of those around you with more responsibility (even if it’s just in name, the real stuff will follow). Plus, a fancier-sounding title will help you down the road if and when you decide to look for a new job.

Transportation costs.

Calculate the travel expenses you plan to incur each month and ask for a stipend to help ease this expense. Think of what you’re spending in gas, bus fare, or even flights for work-related commitments, not to mention car maintenance and the opportunity cost lost by being behind the wheel instead of at your desk. If it means you’ll be at work and meetings on time, and safely, your company just might build this allowance into your contract, or at the very least help with pre-tax transportation, pay-per-mile gas reimbursement, parking or public transportation vouchers.

Personal development.

There are few better ways to ensure future job security than by continuing your education — on your employer’s dime. From workshops to seminars and conferences and even a secondary degree, see if your employer will help you pay for additional education or certification within your industry. Many companies are willing to do this since they view it as a direct investment back into the company.

Extra vacation days.

Your boss will immediately want to know if there will be a gap in workflow if you ask for extra time off. Anticipate that push back and assure them that you will monitor email while you’re away. You should also say that you will brief co-workers on the ins and outs of projects you have your hands on. I know I sound like a broken record talking about how time is so valuable, but think about it this way: getting an extra week off will yield you the equivalent of a salary bump. Say there are 200 business days per year. That means 1 vacation day is 0.5% of your salary (1 divided by 200).

Your bills.

Are you always on your cell phone for work? Ask your employer if they might consider covering your plan. Highlight all the work calls made on your personal phone and then present it to your employer, especially if those outnumber your personal calls. Are you in the media? Ask for your cable bill, newspaper, magazine and/or online subscriptions to be covered if they aren’t already. If you are in the media or in one of the many other industries where you need to stay informed, staying current is absolutely part of your job.

A fatter expense account.

If you already have an expense account and want the cap raise, present a list of who you’ve taken out that has resulted in money for the company. Showing your track record of success helps you be in a great position to get even more. Heck, if you were working for me and a $40 lunch with a client turned into $4,000 in business, I’d let you go to town with those expenses! Remember this: A lot of the time, these perks for you are tax-deductible for your employer. So, yes, they are giving you perks but in a way they are giving themselves a perk, too, by reducing their tax liability. It’s a win-win, and don’t you forget that when you confidently ask for one or more of the above.

Feeling shy? Keep in mind that you won’t get what you don’t ask for, and the answer to any question you don’t ask is always “no.”

You won’t get what you don’t ask for, and the answer to any question you don’t ask is always “no.” Click To Tweet


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