In this Economy, Can your Company Afford to Pay You More?

You know you deserve a raise.  You researched the industry salary and benefits.  You know colleagues are making more money than you. Regardless of this information you are concerned that the company cannot afford to pay you more.  In this economy that is a concern many have.  As a woman you are probably even more aware of this issue because women tend to be empathetic negotiators who worry about the other parties involved in the negotiation.

You need a raise.  American’s personal finances are in tough straits.  Just last week a survey reported that 64% of Americans can’t afford a $1,000 emergency.   It’s understandable that this would be a problem for the 9.1% of Americans who are unemployed.   But what about the people making up the other approximate 55% who work and do not have $1000 in savings?  It’s hard to grasp that while almost two-thirds of Americans have no room for life’s unexpected misfortunes that companies are financially doing well.  As one NY Times article this month stated  “THESE are the worst of times for workers, and the best of times for companies.”

With the knowledge that it’s a great time for companies, let’s see how to find out if your company can afford to pay you the market rate for the job you do.  For women, this may mean a raise of 10%, 20%, 30% or more.   There are a few ways to research the financials of your company.  Public companies are easiest to research.  Their financial information is public.  You can typically find it on their own web site by searching the term “investor relations.”  You can find it through the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.  The SEC has a company search on their web site. You can find it on NASDAQ Company Financials if traded on NASDAQ.   Other web sites with corporate financial information include Yahoo Finance and Google Finance.  However you get to the financial reports there are only a few items that I recommend you review.

  • Revenue which is found on the Income Statement
  • Net Income which is found on the Income Statement
  • Cash and Cash Equivalents which is found on the Balance Sheet

Let’s use Apple as an example.  I pulled the Apple financial information from Google Finance.  I like Google Finance because of their use of graphs but you may find another source preferable.  As of June 25, 2011, Apple has over 12 Billion in Cash and Equivalents and had earned over $7Billion in that quarter.  Both are improvements from the previous quarter.    That took about five minutes to discover.  I’m not suggesting every public company is in as good a shape as Apple but you will be able to find out.

Not all companies are public.  You may work for in the private company, public sector (government), or for a non-profit organization.

Private companies are more difficult to discover but there are ways.  First many private companies have company-wide meetings in which they share the overall financial shape of the company.  Start paying attention if you haven’t paid close attention in the past.  Often companies will create press releases when they close a big deal or hit a new milestone.  Press Releases may include the expected value of the new client relationship.  Such press releases will be posted to the company’s web site.  The frequency of these releases can be one indication of financial strength.

You may work for a public organization such as town, county, state, or federal government.  For the most part their finances can be found on their own web sites.  In some cases, you may find the water cooler just as or more informative.  Often there is someone who is following all the ups and downs of the politics of funding.  How will a new governor from a different party affect your department’s budget?  Is there federal grant money that your department will receive?  Right now it is hard to find governmental offices (local, state, or federal) that has extra money so this is the one market segment where you truly may have no option to negotiate additional money right now.   Still have the conversation with management so you can be first in line when money begins to come into the public sector again.

Non-profit organizations have to file financial reports as well.  You can find copies of the 990 forms at Foundation Center.  I looked up American Red Cross and was able to discover they started 2010 with $1.6 Billion in assets and ended the year with $1.9 Billion in assets.

In the news is the fact that 97% of companies recently surveyed are planning for 3% increases in 2012 with top-performers expected to see a 4.8% rise in salary.  You should be comfortable and confident about asking for more than a 3% raise armed with details about your company’s financial strength and the going rate for your job.

© Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Be Your Own Client

advocacyWomen are great advocates.  We can tell you everything amazing about our friends, our relatives, the neighborhoods, a movie, or cause.  This is not just an opinion.  There have been studies.  Research by Mary Wade shows that women asking for money on someone else’s behalf will request 9% more than men will request.  Yet, women ask for 8% less then men when they are requesting money for themselves. 1

So how do we keep this strength of advocacy when we negotiate for ourselves?  I recommend removing the personal aspect as best you can.  One way is to consider you, the employee, as a client of you, the negotiator.    I know it sounds silly but spend five minutes considering it with me with an exercise.

First thing as the negotiator is to put a proposal together for you, the client, to show what the negotiator intends to get the employee.   Stick with the data for you and your job but think of a daughter, niece, or dear friend as you create this proposal.  Put a picture of the person by you as you create the proposal. This is especially helpful if you are a visual thinker.   In the proposal include:

  • What salary would you target as the goal?
    • Bonus
    • Commission
  • What benefits would you want to improve?
    •  Vacation Time
    • Health Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Flexible Time/Work Schedule
    • Working Remotely
    • 401K contribution
    • Pension
    • Childcare/Eldercare
    • Termination package
    • Maternity leave
  • What are the lofty goals and what are the minimum goals for each item?

In the same proposal include the reasons why the company should agree to the terms?  This should include:

  • What is the typical compensation for the job in the region?
  • What information do you have on the company’s typical compensation for the job?
  • What are the accomplishments of the employee that you would highlight?
  • How do the accomplishments benefit the company?
    • Add to revenue
    • Remove costs
  • How has the economy as a whole and of the company in particular changed since the initial hire and/or raise?  This is important if you were hired during the recession and the company is now rebounding and paying a significant higher rate for new hires.

Finally include the reasons the company will not agree to the terms and your counter-arguments you have for each these reasons?

Now put the proposal away for a day.  Come back to it with your “Employee” hat on. Do you see goals that are impressive? Do you see minimums that are strong?  Are you swayed by the accomplishments? Do you feel the negotiator is ready to counter the company’s arguments? Would you pay this negotiator based on what you read?

Here’s an extra credit exercise:  Now have other people who have worked with you read the proposal.  Make sure it’s a mix of men and women.  Do both the men and women see the goals as lofty?  Are the bare minimum amounts obtainable but not giveaways?  Are there accomplishments that have been forgotten? Do the arguments ring true? Revise the proposal based on the feedback that you find useful and resubmit to your client.  Now as a client, would you pay this person to negotiate a better salary for you based on what you read?

Hopefully, this exercise helped you stretch beyond what you would normally consider as your salary goal and highlighted accomplishments that you have glossed over in the past.

1 Babcock, Linda and Sara Lasehever. Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003

© Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Three Things to Know to Time the Request for a Raise

As the saying goes, “timing is everything.”  You know you deserve more money for your work and the only way to get it is to ask for a raise. It is best to understand as much about a few company processes before you do.  This will help time your conversations to maximize your results.


The budget development and approval process can start months ahead of a new fiscal year. If you know you normally get a 3% raise, then you will probably be budgeted for another 3% raise next year.  A good time to start the raise discussion with your boss is before the budget process starts.  This gives your manager a chance to put it in the budget from the beginning.  It will be an unforeseen cost when you ask to jump 25% if no previous discussions have occurred.   Asking after the fact can slow down the process.  It still is very doable but may take a few more steps to succeed.


It is a good time to discuss your salary the moment you start to hear about potential of new openings.

Become aware of any hiring plans for your company and department.  This in normally tied to the budget process yet can happen unexpectedly if sales are stronger than expected or change in management occurred.  The company may be growing and starting new employees at a higher rate.  This is especially true if you were hired at the height of the recession.  I know you felt lucky and were lucky to get a job.  As the economy changes (however slowly) and your company rebounds you want to see the correct adjustment to your salary as well.

Performance Reviews

It is important to know if your performance reviews scheduled based on the anniversary of employment or is there one period in which all employees are reviewed.  If the reviews are by anniversary and you were hired at or near the end of a fiscal year then you are forever in a poor bargaining spot. All the other employees have done their best and gotten raises by the time your manager gets to you.  So there is little if any room in the budget left for you to get a hefty raise of 25%.  It may be well deserved and it may just even your salary with the rest but everyone else has been to the well and the well is now dry.

Once again, in this situation you will want to start talking about salary with your boss long before your official review scheduled.  You may be able to get the raise earlier in the year and your future review dates can be tied to the raise anniversary date.

Hopefully, the above comments give you assistance to be ready for the conversation. So many people get frightened and imagine the worst so they never have the conversation.    So  I say Go For It whenever you are ready to discuss your salary with your boss.

@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Research Company Salaries Before you Accept a Job Offer

It’s hard to find out how a company actually pays employees for specific jobs. Or should I say it used to seem impossible but there is a site that can help you gauge this information. is a free site that requires you to submit some information in order to gain amazing inside knowledge from current and previous employees.  It’s all done anonymously which may cause some misinformation but it’s more knowledge regarding salaries than we previously had.

Let’s see how you can use this information.  For this example, Fidelity is the company that has offered you a marketing manager position.  The first thing to do is to find Fidelity on

There is salary information for more than 300 job titles.  Let’s narrow the search to marketing job titles within Fidelity.  Now you can see that one person who has been a marketing manager for Fidelity provide their salary at  $62K – $67K.  That’s a bit under the average we found for Marketing Manager’s in in the last post. That average was $97K.   We also see that two people have posted their VP of Marketing salaries and there is a wide range,  $124K to $160K.  It’s good to know that people with the same titles are making as much as 23% difference in salary.  Could the marketing manager who accepted the $67K salary have gotten closer to the $97K median determined by  Probably.   Let’s see how you may investigate this more.

Now go back to view all the 300+ job titles but sort by number of reports so you can see the spread of salaries within one title.  They are fairly big spreads.

  • The Senior Software Developer who is earning $62K would get a 40% raise to catch up with the Senior Software Developer who is earning $87K.
  • The Principle Software Engineer who make $74K would need a 48% raise to earn the same $110K that another Principle Software Engineer is making.
  • A Director who earns the low end of $80K would need a 68% raise to earn $135K which other Directors are earning.
  • The VP who earns $90K needs a 100% raise to make what other VPs are making at $180.

Based on this data, I would feel very comfortable countering a job offer with a 50% increase in salary.  And if I had more data, it could go higher.   I hope this example shows you how to take 10 minutes before you accept your next job offer and see how many thousands of dollars you may be losing if you don’t negotiate your salary.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited