How to Get a Raise With Your Promotion

When I spent a day over at CitiBank's Professional Women's Network as their negotiation expert, I was asked by several women how to negotiate a raise in pay when offered a promotion.

It surprised me, frankly, to hear that employers were promoting their people without offering them a pay raise at the same time. After all, promotions mean greater responsibilities that translate into more value for the employer. They also mean that the employer appreciates and values the work the employee is doing.

Our advice is to approach the salary discussion with a focus on increased productivity. The promotion should also come with a new title. If it doesn't, take a look at, or to see what titles people with your new job responsibilities have. If your employer hasn't rewritten your job description, do so yourself. Tell your employer that you've benchmarked salaries for people in your new position in your part of the country.

Say "I'm assuming our company is paying market." Say "I want to make sure I'm not missing the opportunity to negotiate a raise that's commensurate with my new job duties."

Be curious.

If you get a flat "no," ask your employer whether there's something you should know about the company's inability to pay market. Do so while letting your employer know you'd like to be part of the solution to any problem that's keeping wages low.

As Harvard Professor Hannah Riley Bowles advised in a recent New York Times article, frame your request for a raise from your employer's perspective. 

“The key thing is to . . . think about what it is legitimate to [your employer] and what they value,” Professor Riley Bowles added.

She refers to this as the “I/We” strategy: You might be thinking about something from your perspective, but when you make the pitch, it should come out as “we.” This, she says, is good advice for men, too. It just may be particularly important for women.

As a mediator of legal disputes, I encourage warring parties to put the problem on the table and to figuratively sit on the same side, treating the dispute as a challenge both of them need to solve collaboratively. When asking for a raise, you should also think of yourself and your employer as facing the same challenges, partnering in finding the right compensation for your new job duties.

Remember that only 20% of the workforce is "engaged." That means eighty percent of your colleagues are just calling it in. You were promoted because you're valued and you should share in the additional value you're creating every day for the business in which you work.

Whatever strategy you pursue, please don't let the opportunity to seek a raise pass you by. A large part of the pay gap between men and women can be attributed to men's daring to ask for raises as women stay silent, not wanting to be rejected, harm relationships or create conflict.

You deserve it and your family deserves it.