Asking for a raise may be one of the most difficult things you'll do in your career, but it is also one of the most important. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, American women workers make, on average, just 77.4 percent of what their male counterparts make in a year. This means they would have to work 22.6 percent more days to make as much money as men.
Of course, you shouldn't ask for a raise simply to help even out the wage gap. You should ask for a raise because you work hard, perform well, and are contributing value to your company's bottom line. Here's your 7-step plan to asking for the raise we'd bet you deserve.
1. Plan, plan, plan
First things first: don't ask for a raise carelessly, or in a moment of frustration, or on a Friday at 4 pm. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor at least a month in advance. This will give you plenty of time to prepare.
2. Set the scene
The great Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock knew what was up — he had a specific set of furniture designed to make him feel in control during a stressful negotiation situation. You probably won't be able to bring in a your favorite chair, but if you can hold your meeting on neutral ground, do it. Instead of your boss's office, what about the conference room? It will make more of a difference than you think.
3. view your clothes as armor
It might seem trite, but it can help to go in wearing the outfit that makes you feel most confident. If you want to ask for more money, it also helps to dress like you already have it. Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Career Expert and the author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, tells Bustle that a professional blowout (or whatever else makes you feel slick) could give you that extra boost of confidence you need.
"The better you feel, the more likely you are to feel confident and fearless." Williams says. "Clothing that makes you feel confident is like your armor before charging into battle."
4. Do your research
Now that you've got your outfit and location, it's time for the actual negotiation.
First, do not go into the room with some sort of Dead Poet's Society emotional speech about why you deserve a raise. Try your best to leave emotions at the door. This is the time to present cold, hard facts about your performance.
"You should go in knowing what you're worth. You shouldn't lead with emotion on how hard you work — that's hard to prove and measure," Megan Broussard, Founder of ProfessionGal, tells Bustle.
5. Lead With the data
Don't be afraid to quantify and list your accomplishments. In general, you should try to keep track of any great commendations for your performance you've received at work. Did you head up a project? Did you recruit an amazing employee? Did you woo that unattainable client? Try keeping a work journal and logging both daily tasks and big wins.
"You should lead in with results you've achieved in comparison to what your peers are making elsewhere doing the same job," Broussard says.
It's also useful to use benchmarks to measure your performance. Use sites like Glassdoor or PayScale to compare your salary to others in your industry with your experience. (Asking what your closest coworkers make can help too.) If you go in with that cold, hard data to back you up, you're not alone.
5. Watch your body language...
The body language you use can be extremely important when you're asking for a raise. According to sociologist Deborah Tannen, women and men tend to have very different body language styles, which can make a major impact on our success during a stressful negotiation.
A few tips: Try not to smile too much (it makes you seem nervous), tilt your head (conveys submissiveness), or generally do anything else Kim Kardashian might on a talk show. You can learn more body language tips here.
6. ... And your actual language
Try not to use words like "I feel" or "I need." Most of all, never come off like you're apologetic about asking for a raise — or, god forbid — actually say "I'm sorry." Try to end your sentences on a low note so that they don't sound like questions. If you struggle with this — and don't feel bad if you do, this is how women are socialized to speak — then practice at home with a friend or record yourself.
7. When Rebuffed, Try Try Again
If your boss says a raise at this time isn't possible (and at a lot of companies, like new startups, there literally is no more money), remember: that doesn't mean you've failed at negotiating. It also doesn't mean that you can't ask for something else that's valuable.
"I think good things to ask for as Option B would be more flexibility (AKA being able to work from home as needed), more vacation time, or perks like going to a conference or two," Adda Birnir, Founder of Skillcrush, an online tech education platform aimed at women tells Bustle.
"Being able to grow/learn new skills by participating in projects at work that you wouldn't normally get to be a part of, and equity in the company."
If money isn't the reason your boss cites for refusing to give you a raise, then you should also ask your manager what you can do to put yourself in a place where you would be eligible for a raise in six months. What performance marks would you have to hit?
Hope this helps. And most of all, no matter what, don't forget: you are even more valuable than you think.