I’ve interviewed many a career and money expert for advice on asking for a raise. They usually give the same (good!) advice: Come prepared, do your research, be calm, cool and collected. But none of that really gets at an unspoken truth of asking your boss for more money.
No matter how informed you are, no matter how kickass an employee you are, it’s still an uncomfortable situation. You’re putting yourself and your work on the line, and you’re hoping that another person recognises and affirms your value. Plus, you have a million data points in your head, and—especially if you’re a woman — you’re reminding yourself to smile, be polite but firm, and on and on.
And it’s that part of asking for more money that prevents many people from doing so, according to a 2017 survey from PayScale, a site that tracks salaries and compensation. It is, in a word, uncomfortable. And people naturally avoid things that make them uncomfortable.
Some of the other advice typically given about asking for a raise can help combat that awkwardness. The more prepared you are, for example, the more confident you likely will be.
Which leads me back to one of the best conversations I’ve had on the subject. I was interviewing Bridget Casey, a Canadian finance blogger, about salary negotiation tips, and she said the following (I’m paraphrasing): If there was any other situation that called for you to be uncomfortable for 5 to 10 minutes, but you got $5000 at the end of it, you’d do it in a heartbeat, right? That’s like asking for more money in a salary negotiation.
This wisdom has stuck with me. Asking for more money, whether it’s during the job interview process or at your current job, usually takes just a few minutes, and then you’ll likely get more money, according to surveys on the topic: while almost two thirds of workers have never asked for a raise, 70 per cent of people who have received more money, according to a more recent PayScale survey.
I’d spend a half an hour in any other uncomfortable situation if it meant a few extra grand in my pocket, wouldn’t you? It’s something to remember if you’re hesitating bringing up your compensation with a new or current employer, or with a client. So embrace your discomfort—it’ll pay off.