Career Woman

Why we need to get better about asking for what we deserve

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After running an Executive Search firm for over 25 years and being the Founder of Financial Executive Women (FEW), I was so disappointed to see when I interviewed female candidates, they would underestimate what their worth was in the market – particularly their salary. Why is this still happening? Do you know what you value is in the market and when was the last time you asked for an increase?

Most men that I interviewed knew exactly what their market worth was – they would seek the intel via their mentors, and this would give them ammunition at negotiating time. Men were not born with negotiating skills, they had experienced mentors in their corner guiding them in the process.

Stop focusing on what has or hasn’t happened in the past and start looking at what you can do right now as an individual to get what you deserve.

Over the years, I saw men negotiating harder. Often, they would ask for a salary that was over their salary range and, if the manager was worried about losing them, they would either try to get the range changed or offer an extra benefit that had a value. The female candidates that did ask for a raise, didn’t put a price on how much they felt they deserved – they would let that be determined by the employer and would accept the decision.

Companies always have a salary range for every role. When you are negotiating for the salary you deserve, you should always know your salary range.

Many of the women I met, had been in their jobs longer than their male counterparts and were moving slower up their job salary range because of it. This was annoying for me, as I knew just because the women didn’t ask for an increase, they were being paid less than some men in their team who were not as good in their role – however those men were good at negotiating. The men were also more likely to change jobs from one company to the next (if their employer didn’t give them what they wanted), and therefore that put them in the mid to top range primarily because they simply asked for more.

Everyone who feels they deserve more needs to give their employer the ‘why’ – what you have done over and above your job requirements to deserve a raise.

Women I interviewed were also hesitant to push the boundary and didn’t highlight all their achievements as to why the increase should be given. Men went into the negotiation prepared and would have all their achievements for the year written down and ready to discuss. They kept an achievement file just for this meeting and to update their resume when needed. Do you keep track of your achievements? You won’t remember them all if you wait until performance time. Outlining your achievements at your review will also prevent someone else from taking credit for work you have done.

Don’t wait to the end of the year to try and remember all the things you have accomplished – keep a file on your computer – every time you have a win, note it in the file.

I have coached hundreds of women on how to ask for what they deserve. There is a process you need to go through to ensure success in achieving what you want. If you are at the beginning of a salary range, don’t think you can’t jump to the top of the range if you are performing over and above what is required. If you are a high achiever – let it be known and be proud of it.

To get what you deserve, you need to ask!  If you don’t ask, very rarely will an employer just offer you more money out of the blue or even at performance review time– sad but true. The worst thing that could happen by asking for more, is they say no. However, they may say yes or negotiate closer to what you want. This one question could add thousands to your salary.

Negotiating for a pay increase should be straight forward if you are prepared. Have everything you have achieved written down. This answers the ‘why?’ Be upfront and say to your manager during the meeting that you would like to be considered for a salary increase of X amount or X percentage. They will ask you, ‘Why?’ This is your opportunity to outline your reasons. For example:

  • ‘I have exceeded my targets by 20 per cent.’
  • ‘I developed a new system for the marketing department, that reduced cost by 50%.

Your why’s need to have a result and value for the business to warrant an increase. Increases come from achievements and going over and above what the role requires.

If they say no, ask why. If they say not now, ask when. More importantly, know how to communicate the reasons you should get the increase. If they said no, then use that feedback for the next time.

When you are ready to ask your employer for what you deserve, I would always run it past someone who is outside your organisation and in your industry – who you respect as a mentor. People with more experienced than you have already gone through the process many times.  They will be able to guide you on if what you are asking for is reasonable.

So my advice to you is – Speak up now for what you deserve – be prepared, have the facts and seek guidance from a mentor – what have you got to lose?

About Judith Beck

Judith Beck is the author of No Sex at Work (Major Street Publishing), which shares the do’s and don’ts from her experience as founder of executive search firm, Financial Recruitment Group. Over her career, Judith has successfully placed thousands of candidates at senior to managing director level with some of Australia’s most successful financial institutions. Judith also founded Financial Executive Women (FEW) and is a sought-after speaker and media commentator. For more information visit www.judithbeck.com.au

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