Friday, February 12, 2016

Guru Jane: Getting The Pay You Deserve

Dear Guru Jane,

I want a raise! I work my ass off at my job, but each year it seems like my boss gets cheaper and cheaper. I only received a 2% raise on my yearly review, yet I scored "excellent" or "above expectations" on everything. I just don't feel comfortable going in and having the "I want/deserve a raise" conversation. Can you help?


Worth So Much More!

Dear Worth So Much More,

Asking for a raise is not a comfortable conversation to have with a boss for anyone. Discussing money is hard, but studies have shown that, as women, we statistically have a more difficult time with it. In fact, we often are our own worst advocates in the workplace. We don't use negotiating tools as often as men; we dislike confrontation (which is how we often interpret asking for money), and we sometimes think that asking for a raise is selfish. We also often walk into the room expecting a lot less than we are asking for - which our bosses know and use. 

This might sound discouraging, but I refuse to look at it in a negative light. We are powerful. We are amazing. If we acknowledge our fears, weaknesses, and self-doubt, we can overcome them. This is the key. Take a little bit of time to evaluate yourself. Be honest. In fact, be brutally honest with yourself. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses that only you will see. Once the list is completed, look at the things that make you uncomfortable and spend some time thinking about why (I'll never say that therapy is a bad thing) and how you can overcome these items. This is a great way to figure out how to walk into your boss's office and make a presentation about you and your value.

That's precisely what this negotiation is: a presentation about you. A presentation about why you should receive a raise. Think: How would I prepare for any other work presentation? My guess is you would begin with doing your research, and that is exactly what I am advising: Research. Research comparable positions - in the industry and in your local area. A simple Google search will get this going. Example: "Salary Vice President Advertising Kansas City, MO." Look at current job postings for similar positions. Be sure to check job-crawling websites, such as,, and These websites will give you an idea of what other people in your area and with your experience are being paid. Remember that you're on a fact-finding mission. Note the median wage and understand what is included in that "wage." Does this just mean a salary, or does it include a bonus? What about stock options? Retirement contributions? These all matter.

I recommend you pull up your current job description and make sure it is accurate. If you were hired (and are paid commensurately) to do X, Y, and Z, then that is great. However, if you are actually doing X, Y, Z AND 1, 2, and 3, then you have even more ammunition. As you go through this exercise, it might also bring into question if your job title accurate and reflective of your job responsibilities. That said, never settle for just a title change. Bigger titles are paid bigger bucks.

Once you've done all of your research, make your presentation. Don't kill your boss with your research - no one wants a list of facts. Present it in a way that will be easily understood, concise, and powerful. And just be you. Know what you deserve and walk in the room with that confidence.

You work your ass off. You kick ass and take names. You deserve to be fairly compensated for it. You don't go to work every day just for fun - you go for a paycheck! Make sure that paycheck accurately reflects your work product, dedication, efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of the company.

Good luck!

Guru Jane

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