We have a cultural taboo against talking about salary. Along with that, many of us are uncomfortable with asking for more money. When it comes to your career, that could mean difficulty getting paid what you think you’re worth, including asking for a raise.
Even though I don’t work in a traditional job, I also have a hard time asking for more money. The first time I raised my rates as a freelancer, I felt uncomfortable. As a woman, the cultural bias I have against asking for a raise offers a double whammy.
According to a recent PayScale guide, 28% of people who didn’t ask for a raise in their current field are uncomfortable negotiating salary. And 31% of women report that they are uncomfortable talking about salary, versus 23% of men.
But the socialization as a woman takes on a different cast. Research indicates that, as a society, we approve of men asking for raises. But women who ask for raises are too pushy, even if they have the same qualifications as men. I know I was socialized to be accommodating. I was told that, as a female, I was “naturally” more nurturing and that I should step back and not be “too aggressive.” (The fact that I didn’t feel these things and thought there was something wrong with me is another story.)
No matter your reason for not asking for a raise, though, it might be time to change that. PayScale reports that 75% of those who ask for a raise get a raise (although women MBAs are denied raises they ask for more often than men). So, that means it might be time for you to move beyond your fear of asking for more money, and approach the subject of a raise with your boss.
Do You Deserve a Raise?
Before you ask for raise, it’s a good idea to do a little introspection and determine whether or not you deserve a raise. As a freelancer, I tend to think it’s time to raise my rates when I start to feel overloaded by the number of clients I have. Or when new clients agree a little too quickly to my fee.
The fact of the matter, though, is that you don’t deserve a raise just because you think you need more money. Instead, you need to consider the value you add to your employer.
- Do you go above and beyond?
- Do you have new responsibilities?
- Have you brought in new business?
- Are you a good problem solver and communicator?
- How have you made your employer’s life easier?
Next, be realistic about your qualifications. Do you have a lot of experience or education? Do you have specific professional certifications? The skills you bring to the company can be great assets, as can your education and expertise. Play on that, and check salaries to see if you are being paid adequately for your skills and experience.
Are You Paid on Par with Your Peers?
Don’t forget to consider where you live. As a freelancer, I have to be aware of the realities of the writing market, and where I fit into that. I have some experience and knowledge that helps me along, and I understand what the market can bear.
The same is true when you have a more traditional job and you are looking for a raise. You need to understand what is normal and reasonable in your location, as well as what you can expect to be paid for your experience and expertise. What’s “normal” pay for your job in Philadelphia might be very different from what you can expect to get if you move to Idaho.
Some people go so far as to compare their salaries with their peers. This can work in your favor, but it can also easily backfire and cause resentment if someone gets paid more, but does not contribute the same as some other peers.
Other Considerations When Asking for a Raise
Be realistic about your expectations of a raise. But do your research. If you can see that you should be paid more for your work, it might be time to strategize the best way to ask for a raise.
However, if you know that you can’t get a raise in your current company, it might be time to improve your resume and start looking for a new job. If you are uncomfortable asking for a raise at your current company, but you can get a better offer someplace else, it can make sense to apply for the job. You can use that offer as a way to break the ice. Or, maybe you’ll be happier in your new job with higher starting pay.
What do you think? When was the last time you asked for a raise?