Asking for a Raise: A Complete Guide for Women

Are you thinking about asking for a raise? You’re in the right place.

Perhaps you’re coming up on that first review and hoping to nail your first raise. Or maybe you already negotiated your salary but this time you want more.  We’ve broken down asking for a raise into three easy steps:

  1. Track your successes and compensation. That’s right: break out your spreadsheets: it’s excel time.

  2. Do your research. And no: just looking at Glassdoor is not going to cut it.

  3. Prepare, prepare, and PREPARE. This is not the time to “wing” it.

Whatever your starting point, we support you. To help you keep calm, we’ve laid out a foolproof game plan for getting your coin.

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Step 1: Track your success (and compensation)

Did that big presentation lead to $5,000 in additional revenue? Maybe you took on additional responsibilities when a co-worker left. Or perhaps you saved the company money. The most compelling argument for a pay increase is proven success.

Record everything.

Remember, most bosses are result-oriented. Your ability to make an argument for more pay begins with your ability to document and quantify your success. In other words, write it down and add it up! Create a spreadsheet to track your projects and their impact on the company. The more numbers you can bring into your success the better; your boss can’t argue with facts.

Choose 3 major achievements you can talk about in depth.

Know these achievements and their supporting data like the back of your hand. Seriously, you should be talking about your key successes in your sleep. Be sure to choose achievements that contributed to big company goals. Show you’re thinking about the company’s bottom line and not just your own KPIs

For example, start with the result: I closed over $800K in sales the last two quarters. Then detail how you went above and beyond: Despite losing a member of our sales team, I was able to devise an internal system to drive those numbers without falling behind.

Track the money you’ve made.

Beyond your accomplishments, it’s essential to track the money you’ve personally made. Make a spreadsheet with your original salary, what you currently make, and any raises or bonuses you’ve received. Bringing this awareness to the table shows you’re detail-oriented, informed, and honest—i.e. a super valuable asset.

Let’s see your boss say no to those receipts.

Key takeaway

Focus on your value to the company (simply “being busy” is not a sufficient reason to ask for a raise).

Don’t…

Focus on your desire for more money (that’s a given, but your boss won’t think so).

Step 2: Do your research

So you know you’re ready to ask for a raise, but do you know how much to ask for? Knowledge is power, and nothing is more powerful than knowing your worth.

Find out how much other people in your role make.

Ask around. Search the web. Use a personalized salary calculator. Figure out the high and low ends (at your company and in your city). Where do you fall? Print out your findings to keep on hand when you talk to your boss.

Know what you’re asking for.

If you’re negotiating salary, always go for the high end. If you’re asking for a raise, consider your contributions to the company and decide whether to play it safe (a 3-5% ask) or go big (5-10%).

Key takeaway

Prepare your numbers in advance.

Don’t…

Get greedy or sell yourself short.

Step 3: Prepare, prepare, prepare

You’ve done your homework, now it’s time to solidify your pitch, set the scene, and psych yourself up. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to speaking up and advocating for yourself.

Write your pitch on paper. Fine-tune it. Then practice your heart out.

When writing out your pitch, concentrate on your ask (how much $$$ you want!) and all of your amazing contributions. That’s where your core three achievements come into play. Then find a friend and pitch to them; ask for feedback and keep an eye out for key phrases that you can lean on during your real pitch.

Extra points if you practice your pitch in the shower, on the treadmill, in the mirror, basically anywhere you can. 

Be mindful about timing.

Be smart about when you ask! The best time of year to ask is during your annual performance review or at the end of your company’s fiscal year (if it’s been a good one). The best time of week? Friday morning, between 10-11 AM (after your boss has their coffee).

On the day of your negotiation…

The day has come. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, pack up your materials, and eat a good breakfast (hey, it helped with the SAT right?). Do a 5-minute power stance right before. (Hands on your hips, elbows out!) Even if you feel silly, the physical act of taking up space boosts confidence. Now, take a deep breath and go crush it!

Key takeaway

Focus on the things you can control: yourself, your timing, your preparation.

Don’t…

Bring up personal reasons for the raise or other people’s salaries.

Note: This one does come with a big “BUT”. If you think your company has structured unfair salaries then YES. Bring this up.

What if they say “No”?…

Start looking for a new job. No, really. If they’re not meeting your value, then it’s time to find a company that will. In the meantime, there’s still more you can ask for that doesn’t have to do with a bump in salary. Consider asking for more work from home days, additional vacation, or an education stipend.

Key Takeaway

You’re worth it! If they don’t see that, someone else will.

Don’t…

Go into a negotiation thinking “no” is the answer—and don’t shy away from a contingency plan if it is.