Ask.

I knew the statistics; I knew the facts. Women don’t ask. And yet I still didn’t ask.

I didn’t ask when I knew I should, because I felt lucky to have a job. My dream job out of college in fact (of course it didn’t turn out to be my dream job, but still). I was just glad they were paying me at all. I waited a year and a half to ask for a raise. I assume I lost in that year and a half about 18,000 dollars at least if not more by not asking. That is real money-money I could definitely use right now as an entrepreneur.

I’ve known about Equal Pay Day for a long time. But for some reason the concept never stuck– I didn’t ask for more until I literally couldn’t pay rent without asking for more. I don’t want to keep making that mistake or watching others do the same.

This is why The Levo League exists. It’s also why today we’re teaming up with organizations, big and small, non-profit and for-profit, to encourage all of us to negotiate.

We’ve also asked for inspiration from women in our community and well known figures such as Janet Hanson of 85 Broads and Soraya Darabi of Foodspotting. You can check out theirs as well as others stories and advice on our www.ask4more2day.com site. But as L(L)ers, I wanted to privately share with you my experience asking for a raise. I hope that you find my journey helpful, too.

The first time I actually got up the courage to ask for a raise was about 4 months in the making. In fact I put together a document with reasons why I deserved the raise. I looked at how much money I was bringing in for the company and the meager amount I was collecting. I found out how much others around me were making. I even put together a chart to show how much I had improved at my job. I had to psych myself up.

Where was I supposed to even start? I had no idea. So I sent an email to my practice manager and asked her when there would be a good time to discuss a raise with her and the partner in charge of me. Her only response was to ask how much I wanted.

I told her I had an entire document and an argument prepared. But all she wanted was a number. I threw out the highest thing I could think of, I’m pretty sure it was about a 45% increase. They came back with an 18% increase. In retrospect I probably could have pushed for even more, but I was just so stoked that it had worked that I accepted.

That experience taught me a few things about negotiations:

  1. Negotiating is scary as hell
  2. I had to psych myself up for game time
  3. No one is going to give you a raise unless you ask
  4. The worst case scenario is: you don’t get the raise

Things I wish I had done in this negotiation:

  1. Asked sooner
  2. Thought of a number more carefully. (If I had asked for 25%, a more coherent ask, they might have met it)
  3. Followed up and asked for even more rather than just being excited by the 18%
  4. Asked a mentor or friend for advice
  5. Pushed to get face time with the decision makers, rather than a transactional hour-long exchange over email

But that’s the thing about negotiating: you learn how to do it better and the only way to learn is to actually do it. So please, ladies, go out there and ask for more. It’s intimidating, but definitely worth it.