How to Get a Raise Right Now

We tell you exactly what to say to get the raise you've been waiting for. We tell you exactly what to say to get the raise you've been waiting for. All year, Cosmo has teamed with Lean In, founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to help you build a brilliant career. So WWSSD to get a better salary? We tell you exactly what to say.

By Susan Schulz

So you just got an offer for a job that you really, really want. Or you're hitting your stride at a company you love. Your first thought may be, I'm lucky to get this opportunity. I don't want to rock the boat by asking for too much money. But don't make that mistake. Now is exactly the time to get strategic and ask for the salary you deserve. Not negotiating early in your career for even a few thousand dollars more can set you up to be making hundreds of thousands less over the course of 30 years, warns Margaret Neale, professor of management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a career-education expert at LeanIn.org. Follow Neale's five-step plan to getting paid what you're worth.

1. PSYCH YOURSELF UP

Nervous that asking for more will make you look like less of a team player? Remember that most companies expect people to negotiate a higher salary or ask for a raise eventually. So don't think of it as you against your boss. Instead, consider it a problem-solving activity: You're proposing solutions to the challenges the company faces-and those solutions have value. This makes the process a lot less intimidating.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg Leans In


2. GET INSIDE YOUR BOSS'S HEAD

Know what goals she faces in the coming year. If she's tasked with growing sales by 10 percent, what skills can you offer to help meet that goal? To find out what she's looking for, talk to peers as well as a mentor or colleague who's at least three to five years older than you. Use LinkedIn to ask a common connection to introduce you to someone in your organization or one like it. Reach out by e-mail, writing, "Our mutual friend suggested you'd be great to talk to. I'd need only about 15 minutes of your time.…" And when you have her ear, ask, "What might it be like to work for this person? How can I be of best use to her?"

3. DO SOME SALARY SLEUTHING

Ask your contacts about money too, saying, "In your experience, what would be a fair salary for someone at my level?" This way, you can suss out a competitive range without point-blank asking what they make, which might turn people off. You can also find out a lot by simply Googling the position and salary. Be sure to find out what the guys at your level are making, so you don't lowball your expectations. (Yes, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar men make.)

4. CREATE YOUR DREAM PACKAGE

A negotiation isn't just about your paycheck. It's about a mix of things that will help you be successful: an expense account, a company car, a paid cell phone or laptop, a day per week working from home, more staff, or additional vacation time. Packaging gives your boss options. If she can't give you more in salary, other things on your list may be doable for her. If you go in asking only for a salary bump and get a no, you've blown your chance. To go back again with other ideas will make you seem unprepared…or worse, annoying.

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5. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR REQUEST

Different jobs will require you to vary your approach when you negotiate, but always stick to your problem-solving mind-set. Say, "I understand what the company is trying to achieve, and I can help you meet those goals. Here's what I need in order to do that." Don't be afraid to end with, "If we can reach an agreement on the package, I'm ready to get to work." That way, your boss knows exactly what she needs to do to close the deal and check this off her list.

If you get a no…

Say, "I'm excited to get to work. But can you explain why I didn't get the package we discussed, so I fully understand?" Gather as much info as you can to help you get a yes next time.

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