Asking for a Raise? 4 Tips for PR Pros
A former colleague once warned me not to ask for a raise during our firm’s end-of-year review cycle.
“They’ll never give it to you,” he said. “I asked for one last year when my wife had our second baby, and they said no.”
I tried my hardest to look sympathetic as I replied, “Well I don’t have any kids, so I’ll have to come up with a better reason than that.”
I did, of course, assemble a far more compelling case for why I deserved the raise and a promotion, too. Here’s the four-step process I used to get both – no kids required.
1. Know your number.
I once worked with a woman who was famously overpaid and criminally unproductive. In fact, the most helpful thing I ever saw her do was offer an executive a mint.
Every organization has its underperformers. The only thing worse than working alongside one is earning less money than her. While your instinct might be to use this person or other colleagues as a baseline for your own salary expectations, I wouldn’t recommend it. That’s a great way to get what your company is willing to compensate others, not what you’re worth.
Instead, research what the market pays. PR Week conducts an annual salary survey that breaks things down according to level, location and industry. With those numbers in mind, factor in variables like your company’s new business pipeline, how much value you bring to the organization and how unique your skills are.
Calculate two numbers: the one you’re going to ask for and the absolute lowest you’ll settle for. If those figures are relatively close, rethink them.
2. Be honest.
A big part of knowing what you’re worth is being self-aware. Do you consistently go above and beyond the requirements of your job? Do your clients and managers praise your work regularly? Are you constantly asked to take on higher level assignments? Or are you handing out mints?
Your salary is a contract that you and your employer agreed to based on your qualifications and the responsibilities of the position. To change the number, you must demonstrate either that you have developed new skills or that you’re exceeding expectations – probably both.
Build your case: catalog every major placement you deliver; track every account expansion and successful new business pitch you participate in; keep a list of every time you go above and beyond by supporting another team, traveling unexpectedly or working a holiday weekend.
Don’t be shy about touting these accomplishments when the time comes. It’s acceptable to want to be recognized for doing exceptional work.
3. Just ask for it.
I love playing games. I once bet my friend that I could goad one of our colleagues into saying “gamification” more than 10 times during a meeting that had nothing to do with that topic. Judge me all you want for having to entertain myself during a brainstorm, but I know when to draw the line – and it’s well before the point where I start talking about money.
The truth is, asking for what you’re worth shouldn’t involve wild threats, ultimatums or shady behind the scenes work. If you believe in what you’re saying, there shouldn’t be much need for anything but a frank conversation.
4. Consider the risks.
Be warned that while my methods have been largely successful, most managers didn’t exactly appreciate my approach. Why would they? They were perfectly content with the way things were before I showed up waving my logic and goals all over the place.
Asking for a raise introduces an issue that most managers probably prefer not to deal with. Don’t worry about that – it’s part of the job.
However, it’s worth considering that if you don’t like making waves, then you shouldn’t follow this advice. If you think your employer might respond with a list of things you need to do before she gives you an increase, take that as a sign you need to step things up before you ask. And if you think you’re going to get turned down – not because you can’t demonstrate your value, but because your employer simply doesn’t value employees – then your efforts might be better spent looking for one that does.
Nova Halliwell is a public relations professional in New York City. She is not an expert on social media or dating. You can follow her @adviceineeded or www.
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