In continuing with my series on job seekers, this week I’d like to talk about what to do if you think you should be earning more or you want to earn more. There are a variety of options that can help you earn more income; you could create a side hustle, get a license or education that will help you find a new role that pays more, or you could ask for a raise at your current job. Often, when I talk to job seekers, they think they need to change jobs to earn more when they have not yet asked for a raise in their current position.
I vividly remember being a 27-year old executive who had worked almost two years as a Vice President in a company where I had been employed for a total of four years. I was frustrated because I had hit all of my objectives and was working 60-70 hours per week, yet the more seasoned executives were making much more than I was. I kept waiting for my annual review thinking that they would surely give me the raise I was worth.
I went to my best friend who was a top producing real estate agent, and she advised me that I needed to negotiate my raise, not wait to see what they were going to give me. Looking back, I can’t believe this thought had never occurred to me, or how uncomfortable it made me. In examining this, I realized that as females, we are not trained to negotiate for ourselves. Additionally, regardless of gender, as job-holders we are not taught to negotiate our raises. We are trained to accept what is given to us.
Truthfully, I had no idea where to start to determine what I wanted or what I thought I had earned, much less being able to negotiate it.
The questions is, where do you start?
First, you start with accepting that it is possible to ask for a raise. And even further, you can ask for a raise at any time! You don’t have to wait for your annual or quarterly review.
Once you have decided that you are going to ask for a raise, you need to decide how much you want to ask for as well as why your manager should give it to you.
There are several things you can do to help you decide what you want to ask for:
- Do a compensation analysis online to determine what your role is worth in your market and your industry.
- Gather data from your current company to benchmark – how often do they give raises, what percentage do they generally give when they give raises, do they give performance bonuses or incentives?
- Look at you Key Performance Indicators, and be able to demonstrate how you have exceeded them.
- Quantify how much this has increased revenue or decreased expenses within your department or the organization.
- Decide on a number you think is fair based on what you have accomplished. Remember, annual cost of living increases are generally around 2-3%.
- Calculate the difference between what you want and what you currently earn.
It is critically important that you create a negotiation strategy before you schedule an appointment to talk to your supervisor about your raise.
Following are the 3 steps to create your negotiation strategy:
- Craft a powerful narrative. This narrative should be written around why you think you have earned a raise based on your answers above. When you have outlined the reasons why you think you have earned a raise, you will include how much of an increase you want based on your results. Use clear language that is not ambiguous.
- Practice or role-play the narrative. I recommend role-playing with someone to practice because if you have not done this before, you are going to be nervous, so practicing is key to feeling more comfortable.
- Negotiate your raise. Once you have a powerful narrative and have practiced it, you are ready to go in and negotiate the raise. One key thing to remember—the worst thing they can do is say is no.
In the end, even if you don’t get the raise, you will have grown and learned a new skill. In addition, it could help you gain clarity about whether or not to seek employment elsewhere. Remember, sometimes the answer isn’t black or white. Starting this conversation could lead to creating a plan with your manager to determine the steps to hit to your income goals. Overall, if you don’t try, you will never know.
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