How to Ask for a Raise: Advice from Top Female Professionals

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Originally published on Career Contessa, written by Elana Lyn Gross

I asked for a raise for the first time last year. Asking for what I thought I deserved and having a frank discussion about money was definitely outside of my comfort zone—but I did it anyway.

I researched the typical salary for my position, consulted mentors and confidants, and practiced my points countless times. I found inspiration and confidence from several influential businesswomen I admire. I may not have Sheryl Sandberg or Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but I read their advice and it gave me a much-needed boost of confidence.

Here’s what I learned from each of these inspirational women on asking for the salary you deserve:

01. Don't assume that doing good work alone will result in a raise.

Kate White, Career Expert and Best-selling Author

I read Kate White’s book, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve, last year and loved it. When I found out she was speaking in New York, I immediately bought a ticket. One of the key takeaways from the event was White's advice on asking for a raise. She explained that you can’t think to yourself, “I know they know I’m doing a good job” or “I know they’ll give me a raise." You have to tell your boss what you’re doing and ask for the raise you deserve. It is crucial to be prepared for the meeting and let your boss know your big accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to ask for more and don’t assume that they’ll give it to you if you don’t ask. White said that one huge mistake in asking for a raise is making it about you. Remember to focus on what you’re achieving and how you’ve added value to your company.

02. Leave plenty of time and preparation to discuss a raise before your performance review.

Alexa von Tobel, Founder & CEO of Learnvest

In an interview with Refinery29, Alexa von Tobel said that you should ask for a raise every year or two years due to inflation of 2 or 3 percent per year. She recommends planning a meeting with your boss months before the time of your review. Your strategy should be to “be proactive and find out how you can help the company, show them what you’ve brought, and what you want to bring.” You should also use sites like salary.com to find out what other people in the field are making. As von Tobel says, the worst that can happen is that they say no!

03. Be transparent about communicating the salary you want.

Sallie Krawcheck, Former President of Global Wealth & Investment Management Division of Bank of America

Sallie Krawcheck has said that the best investment a woman can make is to ask for a raise. In an interview with NPR, she said that she doesn’t recall a woman who worked for her ever declaring their desired salary, while many of their male colleagues did. Often, men will get the raise or bonus they ask for, and women (who are less likely to ask) will get little or nothing as the amount of available resources dwindles. Moral of the story: Make a good investment—in yourself.

04. Believe in what you deserve and why you deserve it.

Diane von Furstenburg, Fashion Designer

In a New York Magazinecolumn, Diane von Furstenburg offers her advice on asking for a raise. She writes that the first question you have to ask yourself is if you actually deserve it and why. She recommends that you “be hard on yourself while you question yourself. If you think you deserve it, then go for it and explain the reason… Explain that you deserve the promotion and that with that, you will build ahead for the company. If you are absolutely sure that you deserve it, you will get it. But do NOT be a victim, be a leader.”

05. Maintain sincerity and authenticity as you negotiate your salary.

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and Best-selling Author

In her best-selling book Lean In, Sheryl Sand berg writes: “The goal of a successful negotiation is to achieve our objectives and continue to have people like us.” She says that, when negotiating a raise, you should “think personally, act communally.” Sandberg explains a technique by Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the University of Michigan: “This method requires smiling frequently, expressing appreciation and concern, invoking common interests, emphasizing larger goals, and approaching the negotiation as solving a problem as opposed to taking a critical stance.” In other words, although this interaction is ultimately about why you deserve to make more money, you also need to convey value to the other party. What does your company get out of giving you more money? Keep the negotiation friendly and ensure that your boss sees the transaction is two-sided.

I hope these tips give you the information and motivation you need to ask for a raise this year! No matter the outcome, you’ll learn to advocate for yourself and truly understand and appreciate your worth.