Congratulations: you got a promotion! Finally, someone recognized how hard you’ve been working and wants to formally recognize your contributions. This is awesome!
Just as you’re about to celebrate your shiny new title, it occurs to you: no one said anything about a raise.
You’re realizing that you’ve got even more responsibility on your plate, but it doesn’t sound like your paycheck is going to be adjusted to match. Now what? Is this negotiable?
Yes. Everything is negotiable. And in the spirit of taking bold action to advance your career goals in 2018, I would say it is imperative that you ask for a raise.
Why is it worth going out on a limb and potentially annoying or alienating your boss when it feels like a moment when you should be grateful?
Three reasons: First, and most important, because no one’s advocating for you but you. If your boss was advocating for you, you’d have been proactively given a raise. What financial goals are on your horizon? Are you trying to pay off loans, save for a home, put your kids in school? Those things don’t pay for themselves.
(Note that the case you make to your boss about why you deserve a raise has nothing to do with these personal reasons, but your motivation to take on a challenging conversation comes from within. More on your strategy in a moment.)
Second, you’re taking active management of your reputation at work. If you accept more responsibility without more pay, you’re telling the higher ups that it’s ok with you to be taken advantage of. You’re not working because you’re goal in life is to advance your company’s mission. Let’s be honest. You’re working, like everyone else, because you have to pay your bills. You use your skills and institutional knowledge on your company’s behalf, and they pay you for it. When you take on more, you deserve to be compensated for that additional effort.
Third, do it for the greater good. Capitalize on this moment of awareness and outrage at gender inequality by taking a stand for yourself, and by extension, for all women who aren’t paid fairly. Your success has ripple effects. Each individual success chips away at the existing norms and expectations around fair pay.
So you’ve decided it’s worth speaking up. What exactly are you supposed to say?
“It’s not fair that I didn’t get a raise!”
True, but not your best strategy.
Make a respectful, evidence-based case centered around the reasons your manager gave you for the promotion in the first place: you’re a strong team leader who people look up to and admire, you excel at managing client relationships, you’ve proven time and again that your projects are completed on time and on budget.
Being able to talk about your strengths without bragging is one piece of the puzzle. But you also need to come armed with compelling research about what your skill set and this title is worth in the marketplace. “The marketplace” means other similar companies or competitors in your industry. You can do this research relatively quickly. Start by looking on salary websites, but it’s worth going the extra effort to talk to people who already have your new title about how much they’re making.
If you don’t know anyone in a similar role, look through your second and third degree LinkedIn connections and ask people if they have five minutes to chat on the phone. Don’t think about it, just do it. Ask them for their ballpark salary and tell them you’re asking because you’re benchmarking your own salary. Be willing to share where you are now so it doesn’t feel one-sided. Make sure you’re asking more men than women, because their salaries are likely higher.
Once you have your research and your evidence, practice what you’re going to say out loud enough times that you feel comfortable getting the words out.
Have you done this and want to share your experience? I’m all ears. Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to feature your story (anonymously, if you prefer) in a future article.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.