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"How do I ask for more when I’m pretty sure I’m getting paid the most on my team (besides the CEO)?"
Most employees today have grown up in an age where sharing the details of our lives is commonplace—the internet and social media have made it easier than ever to not only discuss topics that previously have felt taboo but to also do so with whatever level of anonymity you choose. And salaries are no exception: A study by Bankrate found that 42% of Gen Z workers have talked about their compensation with a friend compared to just 19% of baby boomers.
But there’s a big difference between chatting about salary with your friends and discussing a pay raise with a manager, and with great transparency comes great responsibility. When planning salary negotiations, it’s important to have done your homework on not only the impact you bring to the table but how to position your value in relation to the business at large.
First things first, take a moment to reflect on how you’ve brought real results or outcomes to the business so you make it easy for your manager to see that a raise makes sense for you—especially at the highest levels of the organization. Have you taken on more or different responsibilities over the past year? Have your projects created an impact for the company beyond what was expected? Understanding your “why” will help you arm yourself with the facts you need to advocate for higher pay.
Entering into salary negotiations requires that you have a clear understanding of the value you’re bringing. Make sure you have relevant data and can paint the picture of how what you’re doing now and what you plan to do in the near future will continue to drive results for the whole business. Also, think through any pushback you might get. If you know you’re among the highest paid on your team, that will likely come up in this discussion, so have an answer that connects what you do to strong business outcomes. When it comes to being #2 to the CEO in compensation, the decision about what you should earn becomes part of the business strategy overall, and speaking to that is important.
Next: Do your research and know your market worth. It seems straightforward but this is often overlooked when employees enter into negotiations despite being a powerful data point in your argument for higher compensation. As you're looking at role pay bands and benchmarks, make sure you’re also comparing to similar companies on both the size and scale.
Always advocate for the salary you deserve, but also keep total compensation in mind. Beyond your salary number, total compensation represents your complete benefits package as an employee. This includes both things like healthcare and 401K as well as more intangible benefits like culture and belonging, work/life balance and growth opportunities. While these items don’t contribute to a financial gain, they can pay in dividends if they’re setting you on a path to success for your larger goals. If you’re not getting the response you want on the hard numbers, are there specific things—like access to a course to further your career growth or additional vacation days—you can ask for that will add up to real value for you?
When you’re talking about compensation at this level, it’s a complex conversation that is as much about you as it is about the overall business strategy. Tie yourself closely to the outcomes that drive real business success and you will often find that you will succeed in getting what you want as well!