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How to Ask for a Raise as the Only Woman in the Room

The gender pay gap has been in the news again lately, as a recent groundbreaking study has disproved conventional wisdom that women don’t ask for raises as frequently as men.

For years, research has shown that women don’t ask for raises as often as men, and are less likely to negotiate salaries when starting a new job.

How To Ask For A Raise at an annual review

However, according to a new study of 4,600 workers in Australia, women ask for pay increases just as often as men, but are less likely to receive them.

This research is disheartening for women because even small differences in pay increase or starting salary add up over a lifetime.

In fact, seemingly small discrepancies at the beginning of a career can cost a woman over a million dollars in lifetime earnings.

Asking for a raise or negotiating a starting salary can be especially tricky for a woman, but it’s a critical skill to learn. Here is a guide to help you get paid what you are worth.

Do you deserve a raise?

Research shows that one of the reasons women don’t ask for raises is because they aren’t sure they deserve it.

Going through these steps proves to yourself, first and foremost, that you deserve a raise, and gives you the confidence and data that you need to advocate for yourself in the workplace.

Remember that pay increases are generally necessary for the following reasons:

Equity

Perform research and determine whether your current salary is equitable.

  • Be sure to do your salary research and know what the average is for your job title and experience level. Are you making a comparable salary to others with your title?
  • Compare your salary data with that of other people with your responsibilities and job description. Often, our job title doesn’t encompass everything we do. So check your actual duties against the salaries of other people in your company, your industry, and your area.
  • Check job listings and see what the starting rate is for other people with your current job description, title, and experience. If you find that you would make more money as a new hire in a different company, you probably deserve a raise.

Performance

Even if your pay is equitable, you may deserve a raise due to your strong performance.

  • Are you doing more work or higher quality work than others in your company?
  • Have your responsibilities increased substantially since the last time you got a pay increase?
  • Have you been given strong positive feedback from supervisors, co-workers, customers, or subordinates?

Make a list of reasons why you deserve a raise. For example, you deserve a raise because:

  • You are earning an entry-level salary, although you have accrued valuable experience.
  • People doing comparable work at this company or others are making more money.
  • You’ve added x, y, and z job duties since your last pay increase.
  • You successfully completed x, y, and z big projects or initiatives since your last pay increase.
  • You contributed to process improvements that save the company x dollars without getting a raise.

The stronger an argument you make for yourself, the more confident you will be when you ask. And, therefore, the more persuasive a case you can present to your boss or supervisor.

how to ask for a raise with current salary data

When do you ask for a raise?

The best time to negotiate a salary is, of course, before you accept a job, to begin with. But, assuming you have already accepted the position and are now preparing to ask for a raise, the question is when.

During a formal performance review

Most companies conduct regular performance reviews, and it’s natural to expect that, if you get positive feedback during your review, you will receive a pay increase.

However, it’s essential not to be passive. As with the initial salary negotiation, do not merely wait for your boss to name a number.

Go into the performance review with a number in mind, and be prepared to argue for it. Remember that this is the time of year when companies have budgeted for pay increases. So it’s easier to get one during this time.

Outside of a review period

Sometimes you need to ask for a raise outside of a normal, formal performance review period. Typically, this conversation comes from a change in the workplace or your duties.

If your role or responsibilities have dramatically expanded, but nobody has offered you a raise in return, it’s time to meet with your boss.

You may also have this conversation a few months into a new job if the actual work is different or more complicated than what was described during the hiring process when you initially accepted the salary offer.

In either instance, do not merely prepare to ask for or receive “a raise.” Do some research and determine ahead of time what salary you want so that you aren’t passively accepting what is offered to you.

If your boss offers you a 3% raise, explain that you want 10%, and why. These are negotiating opportunities; set a target that is a little higher than what you think you’ll get. Then advocate strongly for it.

How do you lead the conversation?

Outside of a review period, remember that your direct supervisor may not be the decision-maker. And they may not be able to award you a raise. However, with the right data and compelling arguments, they can be an advocate for you.

And, in turn, they can go to HR or their supervisor and explain why you need a raise. Remember that fact-based arguments tend to work better for this purpose than emotional appeals.

Begin by scheduling a private meeting and asking for feedback

During a formal review, the performance feedback is built into the conversation. If you are asking for a raise outside of that time, start by asking for feedback.

For example, “I just finished the big project, and I was wondering if you had any feedback for me on how it went.” Or “I’ve just learned how to do x and was hoping for some notes from you.”

  • Hopefully, your boss will respond with positive feedback. If they do, it’s an ideal lead-in to your request for a raise. As in: “Since everything is going so well and it looks like this will be part of my job duties going forward, I think it’s reasonable for me to have a commensurate pay increase.”
  • If you get negative feedback on a request, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a raise. Work on addressing the feedback, and then try again.

All too often, commentary on how women don’t ask for raises takes the tone of blaming women for pay inequality. Women are not to blame for the gender pay gap, as the study in Australia just proved.

However, it’s still important to grow your skills in being your own best advocate and fighting for yourself. Thinking about changing careers? Here’s a list work at home jobs that don’t require any money to get started.

An Example Script Of Asking For A Raise

It’s not easy to know how to ask for a raise. You don’t want to seem greedy, but you also want to ensure that your employer is aware of your value to the company. Here is an example script that you can use when asking for a raise:


“Thank you for meeting with me, [employer’s name]. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about my salary. I understand that times are tough, but I also feel like I’ve been working hard and making significant contributions to the company. I would like to request a raise of [amount]. I think this is fair given my skills and experience. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can always try negotiating further or looking for other opportunities. Remember, being confident in your value as an employee and advocating for yourself is important. Good luck!

What is a normal raise to ask for?

When it comes to pay raises, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, the average pay raise is 3%. This means that if you’re looking for a raise above average, you should aim for something in the 4.5% to 5% range. Anything more than that is considered exceptional.

Of course, this is just a guideline, and you should always tailor your request to your specific situation. If you have been with your company for a long time and have been consistently meeting or exceeding your goals, you may be able to ask for a higher pay raise than someone new to the company. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what is a fair pay raise for your situation.

Conclusion

Now that you understand the science behind asking for a salary increase, it’s time to implement that knowledge. Before you meet with your boss, take some time to reflect on what you have accomplished and how you have helped the company grow.

Write down a list of reasons why you deserve a salary increase, and practice saying them out loud. When the time comes to ask for more money, be confident in your request and stay positive.

Remember, your boss is likely more interested in keeping talented employees happy than denying their requests – so get what you deserve! How do you feel about asking for a salary adjustment? Do you think there are any other tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Comments

  1. Fantastic advice about the reasons to ask for a raise, when the best time to ask might be, and also how to lead the conversation. It can be incredibly tough to do but so worth it, especially since the worst case scenario might be that a review in the future is scheduled.

  2. Oooh, this is such a hard skill but an important one. Great tips. As women sometimes it’s hard to ask for what we want, what we deserve. As real grown-up adults, it’s so worth it to move past the discomfort and learn this skill. Even if it’s awkward, it can be learned and once you start speaking up for yourself you will feel amazing! 🙂

  3. I can totally relate. Even though I’m not really the only woman in the room 🙂 but it’s hard to ask for a raise. And I find your post extremely helpful for this issue!

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