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Ellevest’s CEO Sallie Krawcheck Shares How to Ask for a Raise (and Get It)


5 Ways To Figure Out If You're Underpaid and Get Even
PHOTO: @collagevintage

When I start to walk toward’s my bosses office to ask for that raise, I start to feel the same combination of fear and embarrassment usually reserved for when you show up at a party underdressed. In an effort to gain the courage to one-day actually make the ask, I decided to take a step back and learn a few simple and achievable negotiation tips that will work.

To paint you a picture, I’m 28 years old with a mid-level job, student loans, and a not-so-cheap loft in Los Angeles. Although I’m working hard and I know I’m doing well, I haven’t gotten a raise in over 8 months.

Fortunately, in my furry of internet searches, I found an excerpt from the S.H.E. Summit in New York City in October that helped a lot. At the summit, Sallie Krawcheck — the former Wall Street executive and founder of Ellevest, a digital investment adviser for women — spoke about how women can proactively bridge the gender pay gap. Her advice in a nutshell: Don’t just ask for a raise — provide definitive proof that you deserve it.

Here’s exactly how she recommends doing it.

Step 1: Evaluate How Much You’re Worth

Before you do anything about anything — do not pass go, do not collect $200 — figure out how much you’re worth. There are some great resources to help you do this that can take less time than your morning commute.

Start with Comparably, which provides average salary data specific to your industry, function, and geography in under a minute. Hired.com will show you up-front job offers from potential employers including compensation numbers after you’ve answered a few questions. GetRaised takes you one step further, not just with calculations of your pay gap, but with step-by-step instructions on how to approach your boss to get the best results. It doesn’t matter what you use, one or all three — the first step to getting paid more is identifying a gap between your current salary and your market value.

Step 2: Identify What Success Looks Like for You

Once you know what you’re worth and what your bank account’s missing out on, it’s time to take action and get that raise. This is how you can get what you want in a negotiation.

Monday morning, schedule a one-on-one to have the “what does success look like for me?” conversation with your boss. This should happen now, not six months from now or during your next performance review. That’s because it should take place far enough in advance of your performance review so that you can do something about it.

If at all possible, ask for specific numbers, so that when it comes to review time there’s no room for disagreement. Examples of key performance metrics include how many new clients, completing which project by what deadline, how many hires, what type of customer satisfaction rating, what revenue target, how much in expense cuts, or what type of efficiency improvement. You get the idea.

You should also gain a clear understanding of how (s)he wants to see you develop as a professional, whether it means taking on a greater leadership position, gaining more marketing experience, or starting a new project.

Step 3: Focus on the Mutual Win

Have the “what does success look like, not just for me, but for our business?” conversation with your boss.  This will position you psychologically on the same side of the table as your new manager. Your salary isn’t something that will deplete the company; it’s something that helps the company flourish! In fact, the reason you’re being hired is to generate value for them. By understanding what success looks like for your department or your business, you can potentially aim your career that way. For example, if it’s all about growing the product that was brought out a few months ago, you can gear your efforts toward that.

This also gives you a record of what success is beforehand, so that your expectations are realistic (no big raises if the department whiffs it) and so you know if (s)he uses that as an excuse later.

Step 4: Get that Good Data

“Be as quantitative as you can be,” Krawcheck says. “Put numbers on paper.” A simple request can easily be denied, but hard facts are far more difficult to argue with.

Krawcheck suggests keeping a running list quantifying everything you do, from the size of the budget you manage to the positive work you do on each project. When you go in for a performance review or salary negotiation, you’ll be prepared with indisputable evidence of exactly what you contribute to the company.

Krawcheck also advises looking up your position on sites like Fairy God Boss and Glassdoor to know how your current salary compares to the marketplace and gain an idea of how much you should be making. You can always use this data as a hard fact that you are worth more.

Step 5:  Bundle Your Priorities.

Don’t just negotiate for a salary bump. You can also negotiate benefits, equity, flexibility — and anything else that matters to you — as a bundle. Negotiating piece by piece can accidentally make both of you feel like you lost. Understanding which items matter more to your boss, which items matter more to you, and where they’re the best deal is for both of you is entirely possible with good communication.

Here are some ideas for “non-money” perks you can ask for:

  • Have your pay re-evaluated next quarter
  • A new title
  • A coding class or an executive MBA paid for by the company
  • An overseas assignment
  • A project with the new hotshot senior executive
  • More marketing experience
  • A sabbatical
  • A flexible work arrangement
  • Additional vacation time
  • Mentorship with one of the senior executives at the company
  • Ownership of the next big make-or-break project

Another key point here is you’ve just gotten your boss to say yes to you on something. (S)he sees how great that feels. And so you’ve set the stage for him/her to say yes on the salary bump next time. (I didn’t just make this up. It’s research-based.)

Step 6: Invest Some Portion of the Raise

If you’ve paid off your high-interest loan debt and set up an emergency fund, you should also set aside a bit of every paycheck for investing, even if it’s just one percent. You can work your way up to the holy grail of 20 percent as you make more money in your career.

“Whether it’s through an individual retirement account [IRA] you set up on your own, a 401(k) through work or a regular investment account, just invest regularly,” she emphasizes.

Why? Because compound interest can be your best friend.

“When you start investing young, those recurring deposits will help put the power of compounding to work for you,” explains Krawcheck. “That means you earn returns on the money you invest, and you also earn returns on those returns over time.

“And remember,” adds Krawcheck, “if you get a raise or a bonus, make it a habit to invest some portion of each of those as well, as a gift to ‘Future You.'”

Ellevest doesn’t require any minimum to open an account, so you can start with as little or as much as you like.

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Questions? We’re here to help. Leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you!

Disclosures: We’re excited to be teaming up with the team at Ellevest to start this conversation about women and money. We may receive compensation if you become an Ellevest client. 

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