So you want to know how to ask for a raise.

First of all, congrats!

The first step to moving forward in your career is understanding your worth and being willing to fight for what you know you deserve. Sometimes that can be the hardest part.

As women, we’re often taught to walk on our tiptoes. Society tells us not to ask for TOO much, speak TOO loudly or make TOO much of a fuss about our demands, especially when it comes to asking for money. Be nice. Be reasonable. Be quiet.

How about no.

One of my most trusted and inspiring mentors is always asking me the same question every time I start to slide into one of those feedback loops.

“Would a man care?”

I worry about stepping on someone’s toes even though I know my idea is better.

“Would a man care?”

I feel guilty that some of my colleagues feel overshadowed by my successes or praises.

“Would a man care?”

I know someone is wrong but don’t want to hurt their feelings or ego.

“Would a man care?”

And lastly, I hesitate about asking for a raise or a promotion when I know I deserve it.

“Would a man care?”

Damn, isn’t she wise?!?

This leads me to #1 on the list of steps for how to ask for a raise.

1. Don’t freaking feel bad. Or hesitant or guilty or ANYTHING remotely negative about asking for a raise.

If you don’t believe that you deserve additional compensation, then why the heck is your boss going to?

You have to have that fire in your belly that tells you that you’re worth it. There are many times in life when it’s very important to exercise humility, this is NOT one of them. This is the time to say HEY I ROCK OK SO LISTEN UP.

2. Initiate the conversation.

If you want something, you have to ask for it. It doesn’t mean the conversation has to cold turkey be like “Yo, give me more money. K, thanks.”

But it does mean you have to start the dialogue.

I recommend beginning the conversation in a goal-driven fashion. Grab some time on your boss’s calendar to talk about your professional development. Be straightforward about where you want to be in three months, six months, a year, etc. It not only shows initiative and ambition to your boss but also plants the seed that you are seeking growth and want to get to a place where your income will reflect that. It’s also a softer start than immediately asking for a raise, but can still get you there relatively quickly depending on how aggressive you are comfortable being in that discussion.

3. Be strategic about the timing.

I am not saying to wait forever because if you put it off you’ll never ask. BUT I am saying there are more ideal times to bring it up that will make it feel more natural and therefore invoke an even more comfortable environment for you.

For example, if you know your boss is in the process of budget planning for the upcoming year, that typically includes budgeting raises for his or her team. That could be a great opportunity to put a meeting on the calendar to discuss your professional development and how you can get to where you want to be in the upcoming year. Another example is if you are coming up on a work anniversary, or if one of your superiors is departing and you know you’re qualified to start taking over some of their responsibilities. Just think about how you can use timing to your advantage to kick off this important conversation.

4. Know what you want. I’m talking numbers, girl.

Don’t go into this conversation wishy-washy. Know the number you want to get to, and don’t be afraid to go a little higher than that for the sake of negotiation. Don’t be TOO aggressive, but similar to job offers it’s pretty common to add some wiggle room. Feel free to use glassdoor and other salary resources to justify the number as well if you feel it would help. That makes it easier for your boss as well because there’s evidence to point to that what you’re asking for is within reason and aligns with the industry standard.

5. Be super prepared to demonstrate your growth and why you deserve the raise. Seriously, have a list or a powerpoint.

I realize this may seem over-the-top, but it isn’t. You have to be able to clearly and concisely point to the why. Give the business reason that you are an irreplaceable asset and that you bring a ton of value to your organization. Show your growth. In the past, I’ve even broken down the qualifications of the position above mine and shown how I have grown to that point in terms of my skills and contributions. That’s a very clear path and argument to why you are getting to the next level and deserve compensation for that.

Another way to frame it is if someone at your company left and you began to assume a lot of their responsibilities. Show that! Your company was paying for two humans and now you are taking care of that work with one, so that should translate into monetary value.

However you choose to frame it, be prepared to defend it confidently.

6. If possible, try to keep your reasons to merit only.

Sometimes the reasons we need/want a raise are personal. You just bought a house. You just had your first child. You’re paying for a wedding, new dog or giant SUV.

I TOTALLY get that. And maybe your boss is also your friend and you know they’d want to have your back given your life circumstances. I’m sure that is the case sometimes.

But the fact of the matter is that business is business. Your boss has a boss, and they have a boss, and sometimes even so on. Everyone needs to be able to prove their decisions at work, including the people that make decisions about your compensation. Leading with the professional reasons you deserve additional compensation or a promotion is by far the best route to success and security.

Now, if your job requires you to change your personal life in ANY way, like relocation or an extended commute for example, then, by all means, those are perfectly good reasons to explain the need for a raise. But if not, try to keep it to why you’re awesome not why life is taking a toll on your checking account.

7. Be prepared to walk away.

I realize this is scary and kind of dramatic. But you have to be willing to leave a company if they aren’t properly compensating you and supporting your professional growth.

Sometimes you can take all of the above steps and execute them perfectly, and if your superiors think “Yeah, Jan would never go anywhere we can drag our feet on the whole raise thing,” then you’re stuck regardless.

People rarely stay at a company for 40 years anymore. It’s OK to leave and to be respectfully clear about that possibility when necessary.

A job is not a lifetime commitment, your career is.

In the end, you have to look out for yourself, take chances and be willing to risk it all in the name of your goals. If a company isn’t will to invest in you, then why are you going to invest in them? It can be stressful to consider getting another job, but it’s worth it if it means somewhere will cultivate your growth better than your current situation.

Your job isn’t that different from a relationship, in that if they aren’t willing to compromise, give you want you need or support you, BYE FELICIA.

There you have it girl. Now go out and get the cash-money you deserve.

What's your reaction?