While the modern-day career ladder may seem laden with slippery steps, it’s one we all hope to climb. Having aspirations to grow and reach new levels in your profession isn’t out of the ordinary — it’s human. Still, that doesn’t make the prospect of asking for a promotion any less intimidating. If you’re considering trying to scramble up that next step, here are seven things you need to know first.
1. Consider the Role — Not Just the Salary
First of all, it’s time for a tricky question: do you want a promotion or do you just want more money? Be honest with yourself. If you’re asking for a promotion simply because it pays better but have zero interest in what the role means, something is amiss. There’s no shame in wanting a better salary. However, going for a post that you don’t want is a sure-fire way to end up unhappy in the long-run.
If, on the other hand, you believe you’re being underpaid for a role you currently fulfill, it’s perfectly okay to ask for a raise. Take some time to consider what you really want before raising the topic at all.
2. Never Undervalue Yourself
Can you put a value on the work you do? It may sound a little crass, but if you want the promotion you really deserve, it’s exactly what you need to do. Of course, it’s human nature to shy away from a topic like this one; but understanding what you’re worth to a company is essential in asking for a promotion or raise.
The sorry truth of the matter is that inherent gender bias could very well blur your vision here. In fact, in 2011, a Canadian study revealed female graduates estimate their starting salaries to be a whopping 14% lower than their male counterparts’ estimates. We’re no less qualified or experienced than the men that surround us, and yet we believe we deserve less. It’s not okay and it absolutely has to change.
3. Choose the Right Time to Ask
While your desire to be better paid and have more control may be burning bright, you need to figure out whether the timing is right for asking for a promotion. Take account of what’s happening within the company. Is the business flourishing? Are cutbacks being made left, right, and center? Occasionally, we may be so utterly focused on our needs and goals that we fail to see what’s right before our eyes.
Asking for a raise or promotion when a) there are no openings or b) the business is going through hard times is a real oversight. Not only will you likely be rejected, but you will ultimately annoy the people above you. As the wise and totally fictional Jack Sparrow would say, you need to wait for the “opportune moment.”
4. You Need More Than Self-Confidence
From our first days in the classroom, we’re taught one seemingly fundamental truth about the world of work — confidence will get you everywhere. Alas, it’s not quite that simple… at least, not for women.
Unlike men, our confidence alone won’t see us through. No, women are expected to be warm, empathetic, and prosocial as well as having that all-important talent, should they wish to get ahead in the workplace. The findings come from a recent research study from ESMT Berlin.
The idea is women have to display stereotypically feminine traits in order to be recognized for their work. It’s outrageous. I am outraged. Still, while the answer is by no means to “play the game” and fake these attributes, it’s worth understanding the measuring stick we’re up against. After all, before you can break down walls, you need to know where they stand.
5. Be Clear on What You Can Offer
Before you even think about broaching the conversation, you need to ask yourself one question: What is it you’re bringing to the table? Remember this negotiation is a two-way street — you can’t just waltz into your boss’s office and demand a pay raise.
The key is to think like your boss. What do they want from you? Is there something you can offer that the business is lacking? Knowing your value isn’t just about figuring out what you should be paid; it’s also about understanding what you can bring to the role. Head to this meeting armed with an arsenal of things you have to offer.
6. Don’t Underestimate Your Leadership Skills
Women make excellent leaders. While there’s a common misconception that a man can lead a company better than a woman, it’s just that type of warped mindset that could be holding so many of us back. According to a study by Zenger Folkman, career development experts, women have more and better leadership traits than men do!
So, even if you don’t feel like a leader now, you have the raw characteristics to be one. What’s more, this skill is most certainly one on which you can and should work. By beginning to take on more responsibilities in the workplace, you will show the upper ranks what you have to offer without ever having to tell them so.
7. Learn the Secret to Smart Negotiation
Now it’s time to muster up the courage and speak to the decision maker. Choosing your words carefully could mean the difference between a big fat yes and a quickly spluttered no. You have to emphasize what you’re offering before you state your terms when asking for a promotion, according to a 2015 study from Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.
For example, saying, “I want $2,000 more per year for taking on X, Y, Z” is likely to be far less effective than saying, “I’m willing to do X, Y, Z for an extra $2,000 a year.” While the difference is very minor, it helps your boss understand what you’re offering rather than merely focusing on what you’re asking for. The cardinal rule is easy: lead with your offer, not theirs. Now, go get the promotion you want… no, deserve.