BLACK VOICES
10/30/2012 06:29 pm ET | Updated Nov 13, 2012

Marsha Haygood, Career Coach: What To Do To Get A Better Salary And Be Recognized

I'm working for a company where I am undervalued and my hard work is not appreciated. I like what I'm doing, but I think I should be paid more for the work I do. What should I do to get a better salary and be recognized?

EVALUATE YOURSELF
Prior to asking for a raise, the first thing you want to do is evaluate for yourself, whether you feel that the work that you're doing is either solving a problem or at least filling a void or a need.

Far too often, people feel like they want a raise because they’ve been working hard. Guess what? Everybody does that. Or everybody should be doing that. Similarly, people often feel like they deserve a raise because they’ve been at their company or in their job for a long time or longer than a colleague, and those days are over.

You need to really evaluate what you’re doing, what problem it solves, what you’ve brought in -- if you can quantify that, if you can put some metrics around it, that’s wonderful. You need to be able to say “I want a raise because I’ve been able to bring in this much money for the organization or I’ve saved this much money for the organization."

Part of what my co-authors and I talk about in "The Little Black Book of Success" is keeping a personal leadership notebook where you document all the things that you’ve been doing over the course of the year or the time that you want to be evaluated for. What accomplishments have you had? If you can’t identify accomplishments, it makes it harder to go in and ask for a raise. Far too often, we go into the boss for an evaluation and you can’t remember what you did, but you want your boss to remember all the wonderful things you’ve done. Oftetimes, you have to show them.

You should also let people be able to visualize you doing that higher job if you’re asking for a promotion. Sometimes that means actually doing it, showing that you can do it, and that you can do it well. You can’t say “I’m not doing that job. They don’t pay me enough for that job,” and then want a raise.

There’s nothing wrong with taking your little book in with you and saying “I want to discuss the possibility of making more money. Let me tell you why.” And you should practice that before you ever go into that room to have that conversation.

Practice it in the mirror so that your body language is right, so that you’re going in with confidence, you’re going in with real numbers, facts, figures and accomplishments. Then talk about how they see it as well, because oftentimes we’re working, doing things that keep us real busy, but nobody cares or they don’t evaluate it being worth what you think it’s worth.

GIVE IT SOME TIME
The amount of time it takes to make a case for a promotion really varies based on two things. One, is the culture of your organization. If you know your company only gives raises once a year and it’s in January and everybody gets a performance evaluation in November, you want to be ready in November. Or maybe you’re not ready because you haven’t collected enough data. That might mean mentioning it and then letting them know that you'd love to come back and talk about some accomplisments in February.

It really depends. There’s no given timeframe, but you can’t say "I’ve been doing it for three weeks."

DON'T MAKE A CASE BASED ON WHERE OTHERS ARE
Getting comparable data is fine, but if you can’t demonstrate that you're doing it and worth it, then saying "That person makes this much; I want to make this much," doesn’t usually cut it. It usually pisses people off and makes them feel like you’re holding them hostage because you’ve gotten a bit of information that was supposed to be confidential. It also doesn’t demonstrate you as being a real good team player.

Instead, it is far more strategic and mature to say "People who do this job (rather than so and so) from my research, usually make within this range and I believe I’m being paid at the low end of this range. I think I’m doing work at a much higher level ... and I’d like to be paid comparably."

If you don’t get what you want (maybe they've said, “We can’t do that now" or "It’s not in the budget”) then you say “Well what is it that I can do? I feel like I’m giving it my all. I’m trying to do things for the company, department or team. What is it that I need to show you that will make you reconsider?"

People tend not to ask that question. They think no means no. No never means no. It means ask differently.

Also remember that you’ll always have an advantage when you can tell whoever you’re talking to what’s in it for them.

BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR REQUEST
Anytime you’re in a position of negotiation, you should be thinking of three things: This is what I really want; this is what I’ll accept; and this is a deal breaker and I’m going to do something about it.

You're making $70,000, you really want to make $100,000, you’ll settle for $85,000. A $2,000 raise really means that you need to do something else, and something else might mean negotiating further or going and looking for another job. Decide all of that before you walk in the room.

From how to distinguish yourself from the masses, to maintaining work-life balance, check back as career coach Marsha Haygood offers up her sage career advice. Got a question? Tell us in the comments section below.

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