Finding yourself on the other side of your boss's desk can be intimidating, but if you want a raise or promotion, that's exactly where you have to put yourself. Not only in your boss's office, of course, but on their "good employee radar" as much as possible, too. Getting a promotion isn't easy, especially for women who tend to be reluctant to boast about their accomplishments and to make themselves known around the office. But, wallflower or not, getting a raise is definitely doable. Check out our expert tips on how to make it happen:
"Sometimes [employers] will say, 'we had no idea this person was even interested in management until she happened to write it on her review," says Kate Zabriskie, founder and CEO of Business Training Works, Inc. "If you want it, say something!" Women are sometimes hesitant to speak up and let their bosses know they're looking for a promotion, but that hesitation is a surefire way to guarantee you'll get overlooked when a position opens up. If they don't know you want it and don't know you're ready for a new position, they're not going to consider you. Asking your boss about promotional opportunities might feel intimidating, but planting the seed really isn't that hard at all. "Say, 'Hey, I'm interested in a management track, what does it take to get there?' It doesn't hurt to ask." Says Zabriskie. This is a great opportunity to drill into what the job requirements might be for the next position up. Write down what your manager says and start honing the abilities you'll need to be successful in the position you're hoping to fill.
Know Your Worth
This is less of a feel-good statement and more of a mandatory starting ground for anyone looking for a promotion or raise. "Someone might think they're a rock star at work when they're not even in the warm-up band," says Zabriskie. To avoid this delusion of grandeur, make sure you're communicating with your managers about your performance at the company. "You have to know your baseline performance," says Cornelia Shipley, leadership development strategist and executive coach. "You have to make sure that you are delivering every day on the job expectations in your current role." Doing that will require some self-assessment, as well as honest feedback from your manager. Asking for a promotion only to find out you're not even hitting your managers current expectations can be pretty devastating, so make sure you're checking in, staying on task, and going above and beyond as often as possible.
Make Sure Others Know Your Worth
We're often reluctant to do it, but self-advocacy can be the difference between a stagnant career and a promotion. Shipley says that men are not only more apt to ask for a promotion, but also more willing to boast about their accomplishments to higher-ups and co-workers. She says if women want to get promoted more often, self-advocacy is a skill they need to master. An easy and painless way to do this is to change the way you answer the question, 'How's it going?' "That question is an opportunity to brand yourself and share your contributions," she says. Instead of responding with 'fine,' and moving on, try something more like, "Great! My team just clinched the deal with X company, and we're working out the contract details right now." That's a lot more memorable to your boss than 'fine' when he's looking to dole out raises and promotions.
Look And Act The Part
Appearances do make a difference, so when you're gunning for a promotion, consider amping up your office attire or tidying up your desk. "People say 'oh, I can get my work done with a messy desk,' and that's great, but you have to worry about your image," says Zabriskie. Your messy desk might make perfect sense to you, but when your boss walks by and sees it, she might assume your overwhelmed and unorganized—definitely not the prime candidate for a promotion. "It needs to look like you're not flustered and have everything under control," says Zabriskie. On top of dressing for the job you want, acting the part is equally—if not more, important. Zabriskie says women often undermine themselves with "verbal hedges," something men scarcely do in the office place. Verbal hedges include statements like, 'this might be a dumb question, but...' or 'I'm not sure this is the right answer...' We hate to admit it, but almost all of us have done it at some time or another, and it's absolutely not necessary. You got where you are for a reason, so own it, and make statements and ask questions like the confident women you are.
Prove You're The Right Person
"It's not enough to say you want to be promoted," says Shipley. "It's important to demonstrate why you're the right person for the role you're looking to take on." She recommends drawing connections between your capabilities and the needs of the business whenever possible. If your company is looking for a business analyst and you have a degree or certification that makes you perfect for the job, don't be afraid to bring that up. If sales are slipping and you're one of the team's top performers, don't let that go unnoticed.There's no need to be forceful or braggy, but don't be afraid to own your accomplishments. Training your replacement is also an important step to take if you want to get promoted. Zabriskie says if you develop the people underneath you, you're more likely to get the next promotion because your boss is confident your team won't fall apart without you.
Know How To Negotiate
Don't wait until you're face to face with your boss to start thinking about how much money you want or what offer you're willing to accept. Do your research and have a game plan laid out ahead of time. Both experts suggest scanning online databases for the average salary of the position you're pursuing. It's important to manage expectations—Shipley says if you're making 50% less than you should be, it's more reasonable to shoot for a 20% raise rather than the full percent right off the bat—but don't sell yourself short. "Be clear about why you think the number you're asking for is the right number," she says. That probably means more self-advocacy, and backing up your request with some research. If you can't come to an agreement on what you deserve to be paid, make sure you know what your follow up actions will be, and make sure you communicate that with your boss. Whatever happens, don't burn any bridges! Shipley says a lot of companies look to past employees in good standing when they have vacancies;but make sure your satisfied with what the final decision is, too.
Mustering up the courage to ask for a raise isn't easy, but if you deserve it and put in the work to get it, there's nothing that should stop you. You know what you're worth, and if your boss knows it, too, your salary should reflect it. Sure, most men tend to be louder and more public about their accomplishments, but that doesn't mean they're smarter or more qualified. Take the risk—ask for the raise or the big quarterly project, and don't be afraid of putting yourself on your boss's radar. It will pay off.