Many women don't ask for the raises they know they deserve for fear of being told no and possibly hurting their professional relationships and reputation. Asking for a raise can be scary, but you can't let that stop you. And you can improve your chances of getting a yes by recording your achievements, knowing your worth, determining the right time to make the ask, considering alternative compensation, and staying positive.
Record Your Achievements
You'll want to present evidence that your productivity and performance have provided tangible value to your firm. Over time, keep a running list of projects you've completed outside the scope of your written responsibilities. Also, keep track of revenue-driving or other mission-critical projects in which you've played a substantial role. Detail your contribution to the effort and its impact on the firm.
Know Your Worth
Before figuring out how much to ask for, you should understand how much other firms in your region pay workers who do the same or similar work as you. Use websites like PayScale and Glassdoor, as well as salary surveys published by trade associations in your industry to find out. Also, review the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook for salary information and projections about the future demand for the work you perform.
Determine the Right Time to Ask
Once you have a compelling record of accomplishments and a reasonable salary request, don't just rush into your boss' office and make the ask. Consider the current landscape first. For example, has your company just announced layoffs? You may want to table your ask until the dust settles. Then again, the pivotal role you play may make the company open to increasing your salary to keep you on board. Just make sure to think through these contextual factors to figure out the best timing and approach when making your ask.
Consider Alternative Compensation
Think beyond a number when considering what to ask for. If your company isn't able to offer additional money at this time, are there benefits, such as extra vacation days, you might find acceptable? Or, if your boss is hesitant, propose a bonus-program, with bonuses paid when you hit specific incentives. While you may not get the salary you want, you may not walk away empty-handed if you put alternatives on the table.
If your boss says no, don't get discouraged. And keep your cool. The worst thing you can do is lose control of your temper or get visibly distraught. You want to project your professionalism at all times, or you'll likely undermine your chances. And even if you get upset, take a breath and regroup so that you can continue to negotiate rationally.
The most important part of asking for a raise is actually asking for one, which most people never do. But when you do, be prepared, calm, and positive to maximize your chances of success.