3 In 5 Millennial Women Fear Backlash When Negotiating A Raise. Here's How To Do It With Confidence.
My starting salary in the journalism industry was barely a living wage, so when I was offered $10k more for a position at a larger, more reputable company, the number seemed too good to be true and I gladly accepted, no questions asked. But in my excitement, I failed to research the market rate for my new position, which ended up being a big mistake.
About a year later (even after a raise!), I found out I was making way less money than most of my coworkers who held similar titles — and many of them had less experience than I did. The takeaway? Never take on a new starting salary without doing your research and at least trying to negotiate. After all, according to Shannon McLay, founder and CEO of The Financial Gym, the easiest way to make more money can be summed up with three words: “Ask for it!”
And while that sounds like a simple solution, we all know that talking to managers about money can be scary. In fact, a new research survey commissioned by Visa and conducted by Trendera found that three in five women fear backlash when negotiating a raise.
Sponsored by Visa, Bustle pulled together some expert, confidence-boosting advice from McLay and three women with personal experience overcoming common salary negotiation roadblocks. Read on to learn what they have to say, steal their tips, and remember: You've got this!
Lesson #1: You Are Your Best Advocate
Angela* had already done her research when she was offered a promotion and 10 percent raise, so she knew that a 12 percent raise was within reach. When asked to honor that extra two percent, her manager told her she would circle back to see if there was a chance for more money — but the topic was never brought up again, and Angela felt ashamed for asking for more. Luckily, she was later invigorated by new information: She'd learned she was on the lowest pay grade for her position on her team.
During her regular check-in with her manager, she said, “It’s come to my attention that I’m making significantly less than my peers for doing the same job. I know reviews are still a few months away, but I want to know: What can I do to ensure that I earn a substantial raise by the time reviews come around?” This time, Angela’s efforts paid off: When reviews came around, she received another 10 percent raise without even having to vie for a promotion.
“I’ve learned that it never hurts to be vocal when it comes to asking to make what you’re worth,” Angela says. “If I want to make sure I'm being paid what I deserve, I need to be the one to ask for it. No one else is going to do that for me.”
Lesson #2: Negotiate Based On Your Own Experience
When Amy* was offered a promotion — complete with a new title and job description — she was ecstatic. She quickly did a bit of homework to find out what salary the last person in the position had earned, and during her negotiation talks with her manager, asked for the same pay. The only problem? The person who held the position previously had a lot more experience under her belt than Amy.
“I tried to leverage the information I had to up my salary, which backfired,” Amy says. “I learned that basically, just because someone made 'x' amount does not mean you’re entitled to that amount right away.”
To better understand what you should be making, McLay advises researching salaries for jobs similar to your title, and speaking with teammates in similar roles with comparable experience about how much they make. She also recommends doing a self-assessment of your work productivity and quality. “Think about how you are adding value to the company, and write out the case for why you should be paid a salary higher than what you’re making,” McLay says.
If you do find out that a teammate is making more than you for a similar job, McLay says not to be discouraged. Instead, see it as an opportunity for you to reach that goal in the future.
Lesson #3: Don’t Accept Verbal Praise As Payment
For about five years Heather lived by the motto "Learn now, earn later." She knew her career was about more than money: It was about learning, making connections, and hustling. But there comes a point when you do need to be paid, so she approached the head of the agency she’d been working for two years about the status of a previously-discussed promotion and raise. Although Heather had the glowing reviews to prove her worth at the company, the conversation didn’t go as planned.
“During this conversation he told me, ‘I have provided you with unfiltered access to me. And that is invaluable,’” Heather says. “In other words, the fact that I could come to him for professional advice was worth more than any paycheck or title.”
While she eventually did earn a raise and promotion, it wasn’t at the market rate she felt she deserved. Higher-ups dismissed her rebuttals, telling her to "be patient." The head of the agency provided her with "advice I’d give my daughters." Their words not only made her feel like a child, but also made her wonder if they would speak the same way to a male colleague. In the end, she left for a job that paid her what she was worth.
“To others, especially women, I'd say: Don't accept verbal praise as payment,” Heather says. “It’s not.”
Lesson #4: Practice Makes Perfect
If you don’t get a raise the first time you ask for one, it’s important to understand why, McLay says. If it’s because of your performance, ask for and put into place a roadmap for what you need to do and the timeframe in which you need to do it.
Then? Practice makes perfect.
“Salary negotiation is like a muscle that you have to flex, and men are more comfortable flexing it than women,” McLay says. “If you’re not used to flexing the muscle all the time, then role playing or practicing in front of a mirror is a great idea.”
Another tactic? You can always enlist the help of your friends to have a mock negotiation; this way, you're both earning valuable skills and upping your confidence levels.
This post is sponsored by Visa.
*Name has been changed.