Talking about money is scary. Asking for a raise is scary. But even scarier is what can happen if you never negotiate your pay. The expression, “the thing you want to do the least is what you must do,” rings especially true here. With many conversations in life, the discussions you try to avoid often hold the richest value. Even more so, your relationship with money often speaks volumes about your relationship with yourself. If you believe that you deserve it, the universe will serve it.
I recently had the opportunity to go to an all-women’s conference and got advice from leaders at Fortune 500 companies on how to negotiate your salary. The advice I got resonated on a much deeper level than just at my finances. “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for,” said an executive from McDonald’s. While I have read this statement before, hearing it out loud left me speechless. I said it over and over again in my head, thinking about how if I would have asked for more in my relationships and other areas of my life, I would have avoided years of stress.
The bedrock of getting what you want consists of courage, as well as belief in yourself and the work you do. Your work should speak for itself, but it needs a mouthpiece when it comes to money; if you never ask, the answer will always be no. So, where do you start when asking for a raise?
It goes without saying that you need a list of accomplishments when asking for a raise. Rather than hitting a six-month milestone at work and walking in to collect more money, start keeping track of each KPI the company has hit on your account and every single time a process has changed for the better under your direction. Practicing in the mirror as many times as you need to get through your talking points with minimal mistakes, clearly explain why you deserve what you are asking for. After going through your reasons with tangible proof points, set your number and go for it. Another woman on the panel said, “If you don’t feel uncomfortable with how much you are asking for, you are not asking for enough.”
And when you get a new job, negotiate your salary every step of the way. Men are more than four times more likely to counter on an initial salary offer and research the industry standards for their positions. Women, in particular, want to be liked and worry that they are asking for too much. You must set the precedent that you are the woman who is going to fight for what she wants and, in turn, fight for the company interested in hiring you. A good statement to have prepared can be along the lines of, “I’m really excited to work for this company, I like the professionalism and I think my skills are perfect for this position. I can see myself coming to work here every day, and I want to ask for $5,000 more than the initial offer.”
Showing that you truly want to work for the company and offering a few tangible items about the workplace that you like puts your foot halfway through the door. When your investment matches theirs, they will be much more inclined to meet your offer. One woman on the panel reminded the crowd, “you only have to be brave for thirty seconds.” If you think of it this way, rather than an exchange for an 8-hour work day, your salary should account for all of the years of school, training, and skill-learning that you invested into your career. Instead of feeling awkward, feel empowered that you laid the groundwork to get yourself the offer. They chose you, and you have every right to negotiate your pay.
The advice that I took away from the summit goes miles deeper than just at my finances. The uncomfortable conversations are almost always the most valuable ones and during each of them, we set the precedent for the way people treat us. We have to be willing to go to the mat for ourselves, in life and in money.