Call it The Good Girl Effect: Women are taught from an early age to be nice and accept what they can get. Asking for more than they’re offered, or worse—what they really want—is always a no-no. When little girls grow up and enter the workplace, the shame that they carry around negatively affects their financial lives. Women are four times less likely to ask for a raise than men. And over the course of a lifetime, that can take a huge financial toll. So take a deep breath and have that conversation with your boss. Here are a few tips to get you through.
Timing is everything, especially with raises. Are cost-cutting reminders being sent to everyone on a weekly basis? Did the holiday party get downgraded to a potluck in the lunchroom? Be conscious of the overall financial picture of the company. Wait for a moment when you know there is some wiggle room in the budget.
If the time is now, then do your homework. Find out what other people in your field are making to come up with a ballpark figure. Come armed with information, and ask for a merit raise between 1% and 5%. Be judicial: If you are just getting by, you are unlikely to get more than a 1% raise. But if you are putting in a lot of overtime, try going as high as 6%.
No one likes a complainer. You’re working too hard? Guess what, your boss is working harder, most likely in ways that are not obvious to you. And even if she isn’t, she believes she is—so either way, your complaints will fall on deaf ears. Going negative will get you nowhere. It’s best to stick to the facts and positive figures to win over the higher ups.
Demonstrate Why You’re Worth It
Are you personally responsible for increased revenue for the company? It’s important to point out specifics about how your contributions are growing the company. Use numbers, statistics, and any other concrete facts you have to make your case. You should be integral to the overall success of the company in order to get that bump—show them that you are.
Don’t Compare Yourself to a Coworker
If you know a coworker is making more money than you for the same job, it is inappropriate to bring that up in this meeting. Your boss already knows that the other person is making more, and may be upset that the other person let the news out. Don’t rat out your friends, just stick to demonstrating why you deserve a raise.
Talk about the Future
How are you going to contribute to the company moving forward? By describing in detail to your boss how you will help her and the company as you all grow together, you are showing that you are worth the investment that they’re making in you. And be sure to follow through on those promises. That will keep you in good graces for more money next year, too.