Barbara Corcoran Reveals How to Successfully Ask for a Raise — and What You Should Never Say to Your Boss

If you're doubting yourself, remember these lessons.

Mike Coppola / Staff / Getty Images
Mike Coppola / Staff / Getty Images
  • We asked real estate mogul and “Shark Tank” host Barbara Corcoran to share her advice on how to successfully ask your boss for a raise.
  • Corcoran also talked about what you should do if you receive an offer from another company.
  • Senior Video Correspondent Graham Flanagan spoke to Corcoran at IGNITION, Business Insider’s media and technology event.

Barbara Corcoran: Do you really want a raise, or this is for example?

Graham Flanagan: We all want to make more money.

Corcoran: Yes, of course. And I could tell looking at you, you’re underpaid.

Flanagan: Why?

Corcoran: Because you would afford a much nicer shirt and trousers if you were making enough money.

Flanagan: Wow.

Corcoran: If you want to get a raise, and particularly if you’re a woman who wants to get a raise, women don’t ask for raises I can tell you. I’ve employed thousands of women over my life. They do not ask for raises unless they absolutely must, and men ask all the time. And so, what the smartest thing to do is, first of all, make an appointment to ask for a raise, even if your expectation isn’t that you’re gonna get it. At least ask for it, because that sets you up for the next meeting where you’ll likely get it.

And the smartest thing to do is to walk in with a list of your responsibilities when you started at the company, and then also the list of things you’ve taken on since you started. And simply make the boss aware that you have a lot more responsibility. You’re delighted to take it on, give me more, but I’d like to be compensated and to name a number you’d like.

Most women, when they work up to the point where they’ll ask for a raise, they won’t give a number. “I’d like to get a raise.” Men will walk in and say, “I’d like to get a raise. I’d like it to be around 10, 15 percent.”

No qualms. So, if you’re a timid woman, I think the smart thing to do is ask, “What would a man do?” And walk in thinking like a man. If you don’t get the raise, you have to ask, “What would merit a raise?” So that when you come back the next time, you could say, “Hey, this is what I’ve done,” “I’d like to get that raise.”

When someone has come to me and said they got another offer for a lot more money from somewhere else, and it’s not followed up with, “So, goodbye,” they’re looking for something from me. I never try to buy their loyalty because I haven’t earned their loyalty, obviously, and they’re on their way out the door, I’m not gonna stop them with more money. They’re already off my list. I can’t wait for them to go out that door.

It’s perfectly acceptable to go to your boss and say, “You know, I’m a little surprised. I got an offer for a lot more money, but I’m not taking it because I love this business. But I’m really wondering, could you level with me as to my future prospects here?”

That’s a great opener. And it’s not insulting and it’s not threatening. And guess what? You’ll get the best out of that boss. Very, very different than saying, “You want to pay up?” The tone is entirely different. One, the boss wants to measure up. The other style, the boss wants to boot you out that door. I think the piece you have to put in is, “I got a great offer, I love working here and I plan to stay, but it brings on the table my question, what do you think my prospects here in the future might be?”

That’s pretty fair. If I were a boss, I would go out of my way to think of how I could push you ahead, if I value you. And if my response instead was, “Well I’m happy to hear about it, but you know, we pay you fairly and you have good responsibilities and we’re pretty happy, so do what you want,” or something like that, I would know I am not valued, and I would take the other job because the one thing you must be in any position you are, male, female, whatever level you are, is you must be valued and appreciated to be promoted.

It’s a great way to go in and take a litmus test as to how you are valued in that boss’ eyes, and your boss has more to do with your future than the company you’re working for, your responsibilities and everything else. If they love you, they will push you ahead. I had so many people come and ask for raises over the years. Of course, mostly men.

My theory as a boss is, you get ahead of your valued employees and you raise them before they ever get to ask. Because employees will kill for you, if you can treat them with that kind of reverence and respect and prove it by paying them more. They’ll kill for you. They’re loyal forever.

And I’ve always been very lucky to be surrounded by people that are enormously loyal, and it’s no accident. Because I make sure I push money, recognition, whatever I have, opportunity, more valuable than raises. Bonuses, whatever it takes to make them feel “I am loved.”

That’s what everybody wants.

Originally published on Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

12 signs your boss is impressed with you, even if it doesn’t seem like it

7 lessons I never forgot from the best bosses I ever had

13 ways you can be happier at work, according to career experts

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