Saturday, March 03, 2007

Want more money, how to ask for a raise

CNN had an interesting article on how to ask for a raise. Here is what they said along with my comments.

Want more pay? Some disturbing news. Asking for more money takes some cajoling, but more so for women than men, experiment suggests. Quick confession: I really dislike dealing with demanding, arrogant women. But just for the record, I also really dislike dealing with demanding, arrogant men. In both cases, the phrase "vexation to the spirit" comes to mind.
My equal-opportunity displeasure isn't shared by everyone, apparently, at least not at the office. A few items to remember, the only real time that you can ask for more money is when you are coming and going. That is, when you are interviewing to work at the company or when you have given your notice that you are leaving. Don't expect more than an annual increase of 3% to 4%. The really only way to get ahead inside the same company is to take on more responsibility and get promoted. You most likely will have difficulty asking for a raise about and beyond the normal merit without getting promoted.

In a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock, male and female subjects were asked to evaluate videotapes of job interviews with a man and a woman who had completed a company's 1-year management training program and needed to be placed in a division. The subjects looking at the tapes were asked: How willing would you be to hire these people for your department?

There were two scenarios for each job candidate – and for the sake of consistency, the candidates were played by the same actors in each scenario. When the candidate was asked what he or she thought of the salary for the position, in one scenario the candidate said it was just fine. In the second scenario, the candidate said in a somewhat cocky manner he or she would rather be paid at the top of the salary range for the job and would like to be considered for a year-end bonus. I always tell sales people you have to ask for the order, the same goes for job interviewing. You get what you ask for or you might not get what you ask for but you could get more than they originally offered. A lot times when you are asked your current salary it is wise to understand what market rate salaries are for your particular job. If you don't know you could be selling yourself short. Additionally when they ask what is your current salary you have to watch for a potential trap. If your current salary is below market and you have a good understanding of what this job should pay you need to stress what your salary expectations are if you were to receive and offer. In other words don't worry about that fact that you might be making $20,000 less than you expectation. If you have the skills and education and know what the market rate is for this job go for it.

The women evaluating the tapes said they were less likely to hire both the male and female candidates in the scenarios where they asked for more money. The men in the study, however, said they'd only be less inclined to hire the female candidate who tried to negotiate. They didn't penalize the male candidate for doing the same. Both the men and women rated the female candidate who asked for more money as being highly demanding, while in the scenario where she just accepts the salary offered they gave her high marks for likeability. After you have had an initial interview and might be called back for a second don't hestitate to find out what the salary range is by asking the hiring person. I like to say before the second interview, "I want to make sure that I am not wasting your time I just want to make sure I understand the salary range for this job." If they tell you a range and it is in the ball park of what you are looking for you should keeping moving forward with the interview process.

It's not that women can't negotiate successfully for more money, but they might do better for themselves if they used a softer approach, said Babcock, who coauthored the book "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide." (The same approach, it seems, might work for men with female bosses.) Babcock cited research that has shown that working women are as effective as their male colleagues when they use a more social style to make a point and relate to coworkers. I'd prefer it if everyone at work exhibited more graciousness and relatedness to colleagues, subordinates and bosses alike. But in lieu of that, it's disturbing that women more than men might have to carry that burden alone or risk being penalized financially. A way to get around this point is to get and offer first. In most cases if the company gives you and offer they will negotiate. But you have to judge the situation as to how early you negotiate. Usually I wait until they have given me a written offer and then I will negotiate. In general get the offer and then cross the t's and dot the i's. There is a good book on this called In Business As in Life, You Don't Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate I could not agree more. A good friend of mine does and excellent job of this and I am always amazed at what he negotiates for himself when he changes jobs.

Also disturbing is that women often aren't even bothering to ask for more money, according to Babcock. She notes women are 2.5 times more likely than men to say they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating, and they tend to undervalue their work more than men.
She found women's salary expectations are up to 32 percent lower than the expectations of men in the same job. And when women do ask for money, Babcock's research suggests, they tend to ask for and get less money than their male counterparts.

Making your move
Working up the courage – and a compelling argument – for why you deserve a raise or a bigger starting salary takes some doing for everyone. So here are some negotiating tips from Lee Miller, coauthor of "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating":
  1. Time your move: Approach your boss with requests for a raise a few months before your review because by the time the review rolls around, chances are he or she has already settled on a number and gotten approval for it from on high.
  2. Prepare: Compile a list of your accomplishments in the past year and new responsibilities you have assumed. And find out what the market pays for the type of job you have or seek. Networking with acquaintances at other companies or in professional groups, as well as checking salary surveys, can give you a good ballpark range.
  3. Avoid the empathy trap: If it's true that women are more effective at work when they use a social style, then women can use their relationship-building skills to their advantage. "It's always harder for someone to say no to you if they know and like you," Miller said.
    But it's just as easy for a woman to avoid asking for something for fear of jeopardizing her relationship with a boss. "It almost never hurts to ask. While you may not get everything you ask for, you will be amazed at how often you get most of what you want," he said.
    Imagine you're negotiating on someone else's behalf: It's hard for everyone to negotiate for themselves, but women especially so, Miller noted. So pretend you're representing a client's best interests. "If you do your homework you will know what is fair and reasonable to ask for," Miller said. "Don't settle for less."

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