Level Up Your Career

Are You Asking for What You Want at Work? Here’s How to Start.

Women are sometimes reluctant to ask for what they want at work.  Some women avoid asking for what they want because they hope their hard work will speak for itself, but their silence makes it easier for others to overlook their efforts.

Some women are reluctant to ask because they don’t feel that it is worth the effort and/or they don’t want to be seen as “difficult.” In fact, a 2022 study found that when men and women ask for raises at the same rate, men are more likely to get them. Women who negotiate are sometimes viewed as complainers, and women of color face additional struggles

But you won’t get what you want if you don’t ask. You can’t sit back and wait to have your talent recognized or shy away from an ask because you don’t want to make waves. Be vocal and advocate for yourself.

7 Things to Ask for at Work

Here are seven things you can ask for at work, along with tips for preparing ahead of time, so you’re more likely to get a “Yes.” 

Ask for more money. 

Whether you’re asking for a raise from your current company or negotiating your salary with a new employer, be strategic in your approach. Have as much information as possible, including the pay range for similar roles at the company and in the industry, how the company is doing, and whether they’re looking to hire more women executives. Be prepared to talk about your skills, accomplishments, and everything you bring to the table. 

Worried you’ll get nervous in the moment? Practice. Role-playing with a friend might feel silly, but when it’s time for the big conversation, you’ll be ready.

Ask for a promotion.

If there’s an opening at a higher level of your company, and you think you have what it takes, ask leadership to consider you for the role. (Apply even if you don’t meet every qualification.) Has your current position expanded to include additional responsibilities? Ask for a new title — and a pay raise to go with it.

Ask for a stretch assignment.

Ready to challenge yourself? If you want to grow your skill set and gain valuable experience, let your manager know that you’d like to take on a stretch assignment. But don’t wait around for the perfect project to come your way. Instead, be on the lookout for upcoming work that sounds exciting to you, and express interest in being involved.

Ask for professional development opportunities or coaching.

If your company offers professional development programs, leadership training, or executive coaching, ask how you can access them. If your company doesn’t have an internal professional development program, they may offer a stipend to cover the cost of external programs or coaches. Explore your options, such as Forté Rise, a program designed to help mid-career women advance to the executive level, and approach your company about covering the cost.

Ask for feedback — and advice.

Research shows that the feedback women get at work is often less actionable than the feedback men get. For more useful feedback, try asking targeted questions. While feedback is typically a look back at your previous performance, advice tends to be future-focused and may be more valuable if you want guidance on how to improve at your job. Just as with feedback, it helps to be specific when asking for advice.

Ask for flexibility.

Do you do your best work remotely? Do you prefer a nontraditional schedule because you’re balancing other obligations, like caregiving, with your full-time role? Ask your company about working a flexible schedule. If they don’t currently offer flexibility, ask for an opportunity to try it out for a few months. 

Ask for help or support.

If you’re struggling at work, either because you have too much work or you’re stuck on a particular project, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are, one of your colleagues has been in a similar situation and can offer insights. If your workload is unbearable, bring it up with your manager. Asking for support will help you find a solution before you’re burned out.

Take Charge of Your Future 

For more guidance on how to advance at work, consider participating in Forté Rise. This three-month virtual leadership program is dedicated to helping mid-career women move their careers forward by focusing on their own leadership strengths. 

Rise is built on the premise that leadership starts from within. Learn from leadership experts and executive coaches as you develop an authentic leadership style that suits your skills and personality. Interested in being part of our next cohort? Apply now

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