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Be Assertive in the Workplace

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Know your worth in the marketplace, and if you don’t feel you are getting what you deserve at work, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise or other form of compensatory reward.

A few months ago, I attended a luncheon for women in business sponsored by PINK magazine. Between the panel discussions, they asked the audience of roughly 750 NYC business women a number of interactive money and career related questions for which our answers appeared immediately on a big screen for all to see. (A la ask the audience on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) One question that was asked was, “How many of you want to be paid more?” followed by, “And how many have asked for a raise in the last twelve months?” Not surprisingly, about 98 percent of women in that room think they are worth more than they’re paid—however only a bit more than half have actually gotten up and asked for it!

First things first—make sure the request is warranted. You will need to have some hard data or performance indicators to measure up against. One option is to document your case with a formal presentation to the person who holds your (paycheck) fate. Build a small portfolio of your performance, outlining achievements vs. goals, and present it formally in a PPT presentation. Contained in your presentation could be a few charts and graphs of how much revenue you’ve generated month over month (if this has a downward trend, this probably isn’t the most opportune time to ask for more money), or how much your account management efforts have helped scale a client’s business and/or in turn your agency’s business. Happen to have any old emails from supervisors or colleagues praising your work? A few happy quotes in the presentation won’t hurt either.

Another nifty trick is to use a web based compensation research service to add some overall industry statistics to your arsenal. This way you are requesting a raise with a backup of hard data that you couldn’t possibly make up. This adds validity as well as makes you look diligent for doing prior research. There are tons of free research based tools out there to help you as well. Check out’s free salary wizard report for example,, which takes everything into account from your geographic location to college major to your last review score. You may be surprised at how high the average comp packages for someone in your position may be. This tool gives scenarios with and without bonuses, and benefit comparisons by industry as well.

One thing I do not recommend, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, is using a false threat to leave/other job solely to see if they counter offer you. Not only is this a risky move, it shows an underlying lack of commitment to the organization, and will also reflect badly on you professionally.

By taking a smart stance when you know you deserve more, you’re displaying confidence in your own ability, and showing that you’re assertive enough to prove it. Your management will appreciate the approach—leaving you with nothing to lose.

By Rachel Klausner of Innovation Interactive

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