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These Women Got Killer Raises, and You Can Too

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Generations of rom-coms and Joni Mitchell have taught us: Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. When Arielle, a product marketer, let her team know that a competitor was interested in hiring her, it made them realize just how much they stood to lose if she left.

“After a year at an early-stage start-up making $63,000, I start shopping around at other start-ups,” Arielle says. “I ended up getting an offer from another prominent startup for $80,000. I actually wanted to stay where I was, but I needed proof I was worth more. When I shared this with my bosses, they decided to bump me up to $76,000, and I took it.” If you’ve been a valuable to your current company, chances are they won’t want to lose you to a competitor.

“Always see who else is buying!” Arielle says. “Sometimes it takes a cold, hard offer from another business to make your current company realize what they ought to be paying you.”

It’s like coming into a conversation with the receipts—you have the backup to prove how valuable you are in the market.

Consider alternative benefits.

You’re not always going to get exactly what you want when it comes to a raise. So sometimes it pays to think about compensation beyond cold, hard cash. That worked for Marissa, who’d been with a Fortune 500 company for four and a half years and had received only a one half of one percent merit raise. When it became clear that more money was out of the question, Marissa asked her boss if the company would cover her project management certification. “I put together a proposal for her outlining what was involved, what it cost, and the benefits to my development and the organization—and it worked,” she says. The knowledge she learned from the certificate program was invaluable, and it helped her to ultimately land a job that netted a $30,000 salary increased.

“It’s not always just about money,” Marissa says. “You can ask for other things like conference stipends, training, flexible working arrangements, work-from-home days.” If a traditional raise isn’t an option, consider other perks or adjustments that would have a positive impact on your day-to-day. Maybe it’s more paid time off, tweaked expenses, or different hours.

No matter which of these methods you choose to employ during your next negotiation, make sure you’re prepared for all potential outcomes. As Own Your Worth CEO and founder Ashley Paré cautions, “When you make your ask, you have to be willing to walk away. Go into the discussion prepared with your bottom line and let your employer know that you really would like to stay with them, but it’s important to you that you’re paid fairly and competitively.”