The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you ask for a raise?” is written by Lisa Haugh, vice president of people and general counsel at Udemy.
Careers are rife with high-stress moments, like presenting to a large group, interviewing for a dream job, or making an important sales pitch. But asking for a raise is often at the top of that list.
Talking about money and asking for more of it is tricky, particularly for women, who studies indicate are 25% less likely to receive a raise once they muster the courage to do so. But unfortunately, no one is likely to throw money at you without a reason, and if you’re not pressing the issue, your company might assume you’re fine at your current salary.
In October, I was on a Breaking Glass Forum panel titled “Negotiate Like a Boss,” and we discussed how women can approach salary discussions. Here are just a few of the tips I shared and learned from others:
Have a valid rationale
You don’t deserve a raise just because you’ve been in your role for a certain amount of time or discovered someone else makes more than you. One of these events may be the catalyst for your request, but it won’t make a convincing business case for why you should be paid more.
Be prepared to negotiate
Decide in advance what amount to ask for, as well as the least you’ll accept. As much as you’d like a quick affirmation, your boss might balk at the number or need to run your request by someone else for approval. That’s not necessarily a bad sign. The key is for you to be ready to continue the discussion and stand firm in your convictions.
Have specific, demonstrable results
Businesspeople love having data in order to make informed decisions. Use hard numbers to quantify your organizational impact as much as possible. For example, don’t just say you boosted sales; say you increased conversions by X% and signed X new clients over the past 12 months.
Share intangibles too
Along with your quantifiable results, you should be able to show where you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and the positive example you set for others with your attitude and work ethic. Talk about instances when you’ve been flexible and adaptable to work outside your specific responsibilities and, more generally, what you contribute to the office culture.
You deserve this raise or you wouldn’t be asking, right? So, own it! If you’ve prepared your case and gathered your evidence, you should be able to hold your head up and believe 100% in your cause. Don’t be sheepish, but don’t be obnoxious either.
Don’t just grab your boss as they’re passing your desk or drop by their office unannounced. This is a sensitive conversation, and you’ll want dedicated time and space to focus on it without interruptions—for both you and your manager.
Talk about the future
While it’s important to detail what you’ve already accomplished, make it clear that you’re invested in the future too. Express excitement about initiatives you plan to tackle and how you intend to continue growing and learning so you’ll contribute to the company’s ongoing success.
Keep it professional
You should never try to justify your raise request by citing things that have nothing to do with work. Don’t bring up personal hardships or financial stressors, such as a rent increase, new car payment, or expensive wedding. Other bits of professionalism to keep in mind include not getting defensive and not speaking poorly of a coworker in order to strengthen your position. If you can’t make a convincing case for a raise based on your own individual accomplishments, performance, and ongoing value, you shouldn’t be having this conversation. Belittling other people will only reflect poorly on you.
Leave the door open
If your raise isn’t approved now, don’t give up. The organization may have placed limits on compensation you’re not aware of. Let your boss know you’re still going to be the stellar performer you’ve always been, you’d like to keep the conversation going, and you’ll schedule a revisit of the issue in three to six months. When that time rolls around, be ready to show how you took their feedback and upped your game.
I can’t guarantee you’ll get a raise if you follow my advice. If not, it could be a signal that it is, in fact, time to start exploring other jobs. If you’re reasonably happy in your position but believe you’re undercompensated, however, you owe it to yourself and your employer to broach the salary topic and get a clear picture of where you stand.