Ask for the Raise You Deserve

Business strategist and app developer Marta Gonzalez guides us through the negotiation process.

Marta Gonzalez grew up reading the financial newspapers her father left around their house in Málaga, Spain. When it was time to choose an area of study in university, there was no question she would pick economics. She applied for an international program in Dublin, and went on to work for the Spanish Embassy in Colombia and Honduras, where she advised companies from her home country on doing business abroad.

Her next stop was Japan, where she was sent to enhance business relations with Europe. While simultaneously getting her MBA, she studied Japanese business etiquette and culture and packaged all her learnings in a blog for Spanish speakers. It eventually led to a book, Negocios en Japón, or Business in Japan, that explored everything from being extremely polite to “nomikai,” having meetings in Japanese pubs instead of cold, empty offices.

With an insatiable desire to master new skills, Marta pivoted into tech and learned iOS app development. At her coding bootcamp, she was the only student to complete two apps and won the Instructor’s Choice for Best App award. Her passion for finance and technology led her to found Crypton, an app that tracks cryptocurrencies, and to work as product manager for Tycoon, an app which helps freelancers keep tabs on their finances.

Throughout her diverse work history, Marta has had experience asking for and getting raises. When she was in business consulting, she began with just one client and small projects. In her second year, her portfolio of clients greatly increased while taking on more leadership during her boss’s maternity leave. Noticing that clients were happy and that the company was growing, it was time to ask for a raise.

“I had to show that I not only met my boss’s expectations, but I surpassed them,” she says.

Marta received the raise she deserved and felt empowered to continue working hard. Below, she shares her tips on how to sit down at the negotiating table.

1. Research your company’s financial health

Differentiate how your company is doing. If your employer isn’t doing well financially, they are not going to be able to give you more money. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and think as if you were the founder. In terms of timing, after a win for the company is a good choice. If you’re working at a startup and you accepted a low salary at the beginning and the company gets funded, that’s a good time to ask for a raise because it’s a sign that the company is now more comfortable.

2. Pinpoint your accomplishments

Focus on why you deserve a raise: you are getting more happy clients, you are taking on more responsibilities, you just finished a project that brought profit to the company. It shouldn’t be because your rent is higher and you have big expenses. It should be if you completed a training course, or, in general, if you are exceeding your boss’s expectations instead of just meeting them. Doing a great job and working a lot of hours is not enough—you need to demonstrate how you have gone above that and beyond, and that you are of value to your team.

3. Head online

Do your homework on the Internet. There are many websites that disclose the salaries of people that work in similar positions and companies as you, such as Paysa and Glassdoor. You can also talk directly with people who are working in the same industry.

4. Prepare for your meeting

You should request an appointment with your boss, since this is important to you. It’s not something you can talk about in the elevator or by the coffee machine. Brainstorm a list of  concrete reasons you deserve a raise and the skills that make you successful at work. Include any new training and things you plan to do for the organization in the future. Don’t walk in empty-handed or unprepared because it will feel awkward. Rehearse and rehearse until you are confident enough to speak with your boss.

5. Avoid the pitfalls

Never ask for a raise in a stressful situation or give an ultimatum. It’s also unwise to compare yourself to your colleagues or use information about their salaries as a reason. Make sure to ask for the raise face-to-face and not over phone or email, unless your boss works in another city and it is simply impossible.

6. Turn the experience into a positive

If you get a “no,” don’t be discouraged. It could be that the company is struggling economically even though it doesn’t look like it. You could also not be performing as well as you think you are, in which case, you should ask how you can improve. Work hard until you get to that point. If, after all that, you believe the decision is unfair, then it might be time for you to move on and start looking for opportunities elsewhere. Take a “no” as a positive point in your life either to work harder or start something new.