Elana Konstant
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Career Coach for professionals in transition
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We’ve all been there. You come out of a great performance review riding high only to come crashing down when you realize your raise is significantly less than expected. It goes without saying that any raise is good praise. But, for those that know they deserve more, it’s worth considering the implications for your career, both immediately and in the long term, to be underpaid.

Although it may not feel like it in the moment, getting a raise that’s lower than you expected can have a profoundly positive impact. This experience will compel you to do your research and consider your value, ultimately leading to a compensation increase in your current role or a new one.

Request a Reconsideration

Expressing your desire to be rewarded fairly for your hard work is important not just for you, but also for other women in your company and future hires. Of course, you need to be mindful of the social cost of negotiating for women. A recent study of Australian workers belied the idea that women don’t ask for promotions or raises as often as men. Instead, they simply just are not granted them as often as men are. However, the study showed that younger women are becoming more effective at negotiating pay raises, indicating that there is reason to hope things will improve.

To set your conversation up for success, acknowledge your gratitude and your desire to better yourself in this role before launching into why the raise wasn't enough. Practice in advance so that you can be articulate and prepared. Take emotion out of it. Remind yourself that this is a business transaction and you should be compensated properly for your side of it. 

When asking for a reevaluation of your payment package, first build your case with research on sites like Fairygodboss and Glassdoor. Consider your experience, performance, responsibility, and overall market level. It’s important to recognize how your compensation is structured. For some asking for an increased bonus or incremental raise would suffice, while others would benefit more from a salary adjustment.

Armed with your research, demonstrate your value to the company, focusing on money saving efforts and revenue generation. Make it easy for your supervisor to see why you deserve more. The more quantifiable the data, the better. Positive client and management feedback can also support your argument. Show the impact and importance of your work. 

Learn What You Need for a Higher Raise

Even if your request for a reevaluation is not effective for the current year, it could for the next evaluation period. Here is your chance to be proactive rather than reactive. Having these conversations before the raise period prevents management from claiming that decisions have been made. 

Make it known that you want to grow in your position. Everyone benefits if you work harder, including you, your boss, and your company. Get raise standards in writing for the next year to ensure mutual understanding.  Ask about what skills you need to develop for leadership roles and higher compensation levels.  Be an active participant and offer specific metrics for increases or bonuses. Requesting 360 degree feedback from your peers and supervisor about areas for improvement can also demonstrate to management your willingness to challenge yourself. 

Find people to hold you accountable to these goals. Perhaps it’s a mentor, or your own personal board of directors filled with respected contacts. Advocating for yourself is an incredible skill, one that will continue to reap rewards throughout your career. If, for some reason, you encounter negative repercussions from your request, then consider if this is the right place for your talents.

Prioritize Your Value

Use your ask as motivation to acknowledge and appreciate your worth, at this company or elsewhere. Keep track of your accomplishments on a weekly basis through journaling, filing away praising emails and quotes, and noting positive result and outcomes. Draw on this information to boost your confidence whenever you doubt yourself. Remember that confidence is contagious so the more faith you have in your professional abilities, the more others will too. 

While it can be a helpful guide to determine your worth, try to worry less about what others are being paid around you. Focus instead on what you need to be fairly compensated and whether that is possible to achieve with your current employer.  

As you are taking stock of your achievements, now is the perfect time to update your resume and begin networking and marketing your brand. If you are satisfied in your current role aside from the lower raise, an alternate offer could be used as leverage to negotiate for more. Even simply being called in for an interview will promote your professional esteem, let alone receiving another offer. Initiating the job search process might bring new discoveries in terms of what is possible for your career in the future. Consider what you are seeking in another role, aside from the compensation.

Take advantage of your disappointment and channel that energy into a productive appraisal of what you want out of your job and your career, in your current position and beyond.

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Elana Konstant is a career coach and consultant focusing on professional women in career transition. A former lawyer, she founded Konstant Change Coaching to empower women to create the career they want. Change is good. Elana will help you find out why. Her career advice has been featured on Glamour.com, Babble, Motherly, and other outlets. You can learn more by visiting her website, konstantchangecoaching.com

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