July 10, 2019

Asking for (more) Money…

Clients are making the ask for more money and getting what they want!  Do you have the courage to ask for a higher salary?

Everyone’s favorite subject:  Money!

Some quick headlines around compensation before I dive into what a couple clients have experienced around this important (and scary) topic:

  • Salary/Compensation conversations are still coming-up early in the process. You should expect recruiters to ask, “What are your expectations?” during your first or second chat.
  • Big external moves may not be the best way to increase your take-home. With the hot job market, companies are focused on retention and are compensating accordingly.
  • Don’t forget – Compensation isn’t just salary. Benefits, perks, incentive compensation and culture also contribute to the overall package.

Ok, now with those headlines out of the way, I’d like to introduce you to a couple clients who had some recent wins asking for more money.  Holly is a Senior Sales Manager and Dave is a Product Manager.  Holly is out of Portland and Dave is based in Los Angeles.

Holly’s been hitting it out of the ballpark for years.  Sales awards here, big company-sponsored trips there. Lots of recognition for consistently exceeding her sales quota.

Problem for Holly – her base compensation was far below the industry average.  While her overall compensation was solid (see third bullet above), she was starting to get disengaged with the 1-2% merit increases each year.  Her thinking: “I’ve done a great job year-over-year and I know the value I bring to this organization.  It’s time my base salary reflected this impact!”

Holly and I talked a lot about her strategy to ask for a significant increase in take-home pay.  Like most clients, Holly came to me with 3,292 justification bullets (kidding, but it was close).  Everything from a market analysis of the cost-of-living for Portland, to competitive insights, to Senior Sales Manager title analysis from GlassDoor.  She had her argument(s) ready and was getting ready for the fight of her life!

My recommendation to her:  Just make the (specific) ask.  Come-in with a reasonable number (we landed on a 10% salary increase) and leave it at that. No need to bring out the 3,292 bullets of justification.  It was simple – she’s a (consistent) performer, she wants to continue performing, and she’d like more money.  Period. End of story.

The outcome for Holly?  She made the specific ask during a 1:1, checked in with her manager over the following month (don’t forget in many organizations approval takes time) and just received her first (higher) direct deposit last week.  Boom!

Next up is Dave.  Dave’s earlier in his career and just got an offer in a new Product Management group. This was an exciting opportunity for Dave, and he was stoked to stay within the company.

“How are you thinking about negotiation for this new role?” I asked Dave.

“Oh, this is just an internal transfer…HR told me this was a lateral move. No increase in pay,” he said.

“But you have a ton more responsibility and you’ve proven you’re operating at a higher level,” I said.  “I’d recommend that even though HR said this was a lateral move/no increase in salary, it’s still worth asking the Hiring Manager for additional funds.”

So…we did.

Similar to Holly, we came-up with a specific number to ask for (+ $4,000) and asked his new manager for the increase.  While this pushed Dave out of his comfort zone, the conversation wasn’t as bad as the thought – Dave came across confident and had a specific number in mind.

In this case, Dave didn’t get everything that he wanted, but his manager did come-back with a $2,000 increase in base salary (which just barely covers his SoulCycle addiction – just kidding!).  That’s $165/month he didn’t have before – just for asking (even when HR said the move was lateral).

Bottom line – The money conversation needs to be much more black-and-white.  Take-out the massive justification points and emotion around this topic.  Decision-makers either have the funds or they don’t. They can either agree to that specific ask, come close, or can’t increase compensation.  It’s really that simple.  But making the ask is the most important part of this journey – at least you’re putting yourself out there and telling your leadership team what you want (in a reasonable way).

Think you’re ready but nervous about your approach?  Schedule some time with me and we can figure this out!  Who knows – maybe your story will be highlighted next!

* Holly and Dave aren’t their real names, but they are happy with their larger direct deposits each month!

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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