Thursday, February 10, 2011

Show Me The Money

by Lawyer Working Girl

As most of you may remember, a few months ago I got a promotion. When I was in the boss's office being given the news all kinds of thoughts were running through my head, but mainly I was thinking "How much is he going to offer me??" When he told me, even though I was hoping for a little more, I didn't ask. There was something about the way he said it that made me think, "They are not budging from that number, so don't even ask." For weeks afterwards I kicked myself for not at least asking for more. After all, I will never know until I ask. Turns out though, that another (male) colleague who was promoted to my same position did ask and they flat out said no, so my intuition was right. They weren't budging. That made me feel a lot better.

Over this next year I plan to work hard so that when my next evaluation comes up I will have several reasons for why they should give me a decent raise. Next time, I'm quite certain that I won't hesitate to ask for what I think I'm least I hope. A Washington Post survey reported that women are 85% less likely to ask for a promotion than their male counterparts. In order to prepare myself and to build up my confidence to go in and ask for the raise I deserve, I think the best thing is to know exactly what goals the company has for me for the year and then exceed expectations and beat those goals. I think if I meet the goals they have set, then they have the upper hand and are more likely to deny my request for more than the standard raise. If I beat their expectations, I think I have the upper hand to say, "Look at what I did this year. I deserve more."

I'm not stranger to asking for more money. At the first firm I worked at after law school I also settled for the initial offer they gave me. Once I got in and had worked their for 9 months, I realized that I deserved more (and my bank account NEEDED more). So I sent an email to the partners stating that I wanted to meet with them regarding my salary. I wrote down a list of points as to why I deserved a raise, such as already assisting and mentoring some of the newer associates when they went to court (and I had only been at it 9 months), as well as covering my own cases and sometimes covering others cases too. I was honest with them, I just needed more money to be able to meet my expenses. At the end of the meeting, they said they would consider everything I said and get back to me soon. I thought that meant I would never hear anything about it, but surprise, surprise, about 2 days later, they sent me an email saying that they were giving me a raise. And the amount of the raise surprised me even more! It was more than I expected. I actually convinced them that I was worth them investing more money in me. I can't tell you how great that felt, and not just because I would have more money, but because it meant that they felt that they needed me and that they wanted to keep me happy. Three months later on my one year anniversary, I received another raise! I think that was a first in firm history -- getting two raises within the first year.

So now it makes me wonder, was it easier for me to go to my partners back then and ask for a raise because they were fellow Working Girls? Will I be as confident going to my current male boss with a demand for a raise? Working Girls, have you ever had to demand a raise from your boss? Did you find that it was easier to ask a boss of a particular sex? What tips do you have to offer other Working Girls who might be ready to ask for a raise?


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a question that does not necessarily relate to your post. My first day is next week at a big law firm and even though I am not a lawyer (working in Web Design), I was hoping you could offer some insight as to what the dress code is typically like in law firms? I've always worked in Business Casual settings and don't know if my clothes will be formal enough. Please help!

MonsteRawr said...

I will never ask for a raise at my current job, mostly because I know that it's futile. One of my co-workers, who has been working at this place for almost 10 years, has asked many times for a raise, and has been turned down every time. (Keep in mind that our salaries barely put us above poverty level. He's not asking for a raise out of greed or desire for more money, he's asking for a raise to make ends meet.) Our theatre is so short on cash that we barely have money to spend on supplies and basic maintenance, so to ask for a raise would be a waste of my time.

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Anonymous-Big law firm dress often varies. I would say for the first day dress up to make a good first impression. It's better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Try a skirt/pants, blouse and a cardigan or blazer. Then on your first day you can get a better sense of how the rest of the non-lawyers dress and particularly those in your department. I hope this helps!

Lawyer Working Girl said...

MonsteRawr-Do you at least like what you do? It must be tough working in a place where you know you won't get a raise...ever, especially if you're barely making ends meet. I would say it's time to start looking for a new job, especially since you said the company is so strapped for cash. It sounds like layoffs could be in the future. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Good for you. I think its worth asking for a raise especially if you put in a lot of good work for your employer.

Chrissi said...

i love your blog :)

Anonymous said...

I'm in a situation right now where I feel like it's time to ask for a raise, but I'm also aware that my boss (and her boss) are focused on other department goals right now. I see three big goals - all of which I've been a big contributor on - getting achieved soon, so I feel like I should wait until then. However, I'm also concerned that this mentality is dangerous because after these projects, others will start, and I'll continue to convince myself it's not a good time. Maybe asking for a raise is like what Winston Churchill said about vacations: "There's never a good time, so you may as well take one."

How to get a Women said...

Very nice this blog!

Katie said...

I always thought that bringing up your personal reasons for a raise (i.e. expenses) was a no-no. I was told that your salary should be dependent on your value and contributions, not that you need more money (although you might). It sounds like using this worked for you though... I'd be interested to know why you decided to bring it up in the discussion and if you think it worked out well.

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Sorry it's taken me a while to reply! It's been a busy week. I'm glad you all are enjoying the blog!

Anonymous-When you get to the point where you think you've earned it and where it's possible that you would leave a job you like because you're not making what you're worth, I think it's time to ask for a raise. Good luck!

Katie-You're probably right, that a person shouldn't bring up their personal expenses as a reason for a raise. I think I had proven myself worthy of a raise through my work and I knew that I was a valuable employee to them, so I think throwing that in just let them know that a raise was going to be necessary for me to continue working there. Luckily, it worked for me!

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