How To Ask For A Raise In 3 Steps

By Linda Descano, CFA®, President & CEO, Women & Co.

Fact: Women who do not consistently negotiate their salary increases may earn up to $1 million less during their careers compared to women who do negotiate. That's according to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of "Women Don't Ask."

The problem is that many women simply don't ask ... for the assignment, the promotion or the raise.

If you're not willing to leave your hard-earned dollars on the table -- and of course you're not -- here are a few suggestions for making your case.

1) Research. First, learn where you are situated in the compensation structure of your company. Some large companies and most government and unionized workplaces publicize salary ranges. If such information is not available, ask your manager what the range is for your position, if there is upside potential and/or if you would need to be promoted to increase your salary.

Next, get a general idea of what the market pays for your job. Salary information is available on various websites, as well as through executive recruiters and professional associations. Consider whether there are good reasons why the salaries quotes differ from yours, such as non-salary benefits or corporate culture.

Finally, check with your manager, human resources department and on your company's internal website to find out what types of compensation your company offers in addition to salary, including performance bonuses, stock options, restricted stock and benefits. Ask about your company's compensation policies. For instance, your boss may have discretion to give bonuses, but no power to offer more vacation time. You're more likely to meet with success if you ask for compensation that fits within your company's existing practices and policies.

2) Perform a self-assessment. To get an above-average raise or starting salary, you need to be an above-average performer. Be honest with yourself. Ask a co-worker to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. But if you do ask, be open to his or her feedback.

Be sure to document your accomplishments in terms that justify a raise or higher starting salary. If you've exceeded targets, state how much additional money you've made for the company. If you've taken on responsibilities that belong to a higher-level job, point out your extra service. If you have implemented company policies that have helped to cut costs, describe and quantify the savings realized.

3) Ask for it. Know how much more you want to earn and in what form, generally salary, bonus or equity. Also, think about what you would like if you can't be paid more, such as additional training, flex time or a company car.

Be sure to choose the right time to approach your boss. This is likely to be before your annual performance review. (Find out if your company separates salary and performance reviews.) Often, by the time your review rolls around, your boss has already determined your raise. If your company doesn't have a formal review process or it's too far away, you can sit down with your boss after the successful completion of a project.

Finally, if your request is denied, don't give up. Find out why and set a date to review your situation again.

About the Author:
Linda is President and CEO of Women & Co., a service of Citi that brings women relevant financial content and thoughtful commentary to get them thinking and talking about money. Prior to joining Women & Co. in 2003, she served as a Director and Portfolio Manager with the Citi Private Portfolio Group from 1999 to 2002 and Senior Vice President and Director of Environmental Affairs for the Citi predecessor company, Salomon Inc. which she joined in 1994. She received a 2011 Luminary Award from Womensphere® and the Urban Zen Foundation for the work she does in actively changing the lives of women and was the New York recipient of the 2009 Corporate w2wlink Ascendancy Award.