Mad Men’s golden girl, Peggy Olson, did more for us than reinstate a love of retro prints and hot rollers—she gave us the on-screen evolution from timid assistant to powerhouse creative. Watching her navigate a workforce systemically against her with tongue-biting restraint, Peggy fought tooth and nail to be recognized for her talent—with monetary remuneration.
Nowadays, millennials are more likely to ask for a raise than generations past, advocating for themselves at work more than both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The Bank of America’s Better Money Habits Report for 2018 says that 46 per cent of millennials have asked for a raise in the last two years, with 80 per cent of them having received one.
And yet, many of us still find vouching for ourselves to be a challenge. Sure, we’re eager to announce our accomplishments online—a shared article; a LinkedIn update; a routine “Happy to announce…” caption. But how many of us are asking for a raise, outside of the dreaded annual salary review? Because the truth is, you can negotiate a new salary any old time. Waiting need no longer be the norm.
And as Ann Friedman asks in the cult book, The Working Women’s Handbook by Phoebe Lovatt, “If you don’t negotiate your salary, who will?” Here’s how to prepare, present, and prove your case—aka the ammunition you can take to your manager anytime you feel is deserving. Read: Not just during your annual salary review.
Journalist, moderator, and founder of the creative community for working women worldwide, The Working Women’s Club, Phoebe Lovatt says the first step to asking for a raise, is to know you’re in a position to do so. “Simply to ask more of yourself first and foremost. Once you know you’re doing a really, really good job, you’ll feel way more comfortable about expecting the money to match,” she says in her “New Rules of Work” YouTube series.
But how does one come up with an exact figure? Is there a good rule of thumb for a set dollar or percentage increase? Resources like Career Contessa’s The Salary Project are great places to start when searching for market-based evidence on salary transparency, but benchmarks aren’t everything.
Picture yourself as CMO—no, really. It’s all about personal power and responsibility, says Reese Evans, founder of Yes Supply. Your education and experience only determines so much of your potential earnings. “In the real world, what really matters is how you show up. A company wants to know, ‘How is this going to turn into a positive ROI?’”
Like any good relationship, the key to valuing someone else, is to value yourself. Sarah Mick, former chief creative Officer at Bumble and managing partner at Art Paper Pixel, believes personal growth, outside of the workplace, will only better your professional output.
“One, get a therapist. Seriously, it’s not embarrassing and anyone can benefit from a third party to bounce things off of. Two, evaluate your personal relationships. Never undervalue the ability to walk away. Aside from that, just get up everyday and think about the things you admire about yourself. Fall in love and defend those things to the very end,” she says.
Research has shown major differences in the way women and men approach asking for a raise, which remains a contributing factor to the existing gender pay gap. Take your time with the delivery; rushing it will only hinder your ability to truly sell yourself.
Now that you’ve done the work to show up—literally—you need to come with the goods. Do whatever is going to help you tell your story best, be it a Powerpoint or Excel sheet.
Here are a few thought starters to help populate your materials:
- Review your job description outlined in your initial contract offer—has it changed? Have you taken on more duties outside of your role?
- Track contributions from the very beginning. Highlight four to five large tasks you took ownership of and excelled at (i.e. bringing over business or growing the companies social media accounts). If it’s trackable, bring the hard numbers with you. Has your workload increased? Are you working more overtime than anticipated?
- Compare your list of goals to those when you first started. Take note of those you’ve followed through complimentary feedback to show what value you bring to others, whether from long-time clients or fellow team members—especially if your boss isn’t around day-to-day.
- And finally, outline your dedication to the company. Are you taking a lot of meetings, bringing in new clients and business, are you attending events on their behalf?
And in the end, if your proposal is turned down or the response goes a little something like, “It’s not going to happen, Peggy. I’m fighting for paper clips around here,” know that your personal pitch proved more about your self-worth and invested interest in growing with the company than any “yes” ever has.
That in itself, can and will be rewarded. Stay with it. Take your boss’ words literally when they say “let’s talk again in six months.” Then bring it right back up again.