Knowing how to ask for a raise can be a daunting endeavor, but business exec Watchen Nyanue is sharing all the salary negotiation tips and tools that you'll need to increase your worth at your J-O-B.

A strategic marketing and business development executive who immigrated to Chicago in 1991 after living through the Liberian Civil War, Nyanue is the founder and CEO of I Choose the Ladder, a career development agency that helps large corporations develop and retain their high-performing talent, specifically, Black women. Nyanue has helped companies like Nike, Wunderman Thompson, Best Buy, Weber Shandwick, Walgreens and McDonald’s nurture their next generation of leaders.

It’s no secret that women still make less than men in many industries, despite having the same, or in many cases, more skillsets and experience. “It's all the isms: the sexism and racism, all of those structural things,” Nyanue declares. “I think underneath that is that we've been socialized to behave a certain way as women. It's not polite to demand things or to argue. We're in the corporate world—that's negotiation, not an argument.” 

It’s also the lack of knowing your worth. “No one is comfortable talking about money, because it's so taboo. If we don't take the shame out of it, if we don't lift the veil and say actually, at this title, you should be asking for that much, we won’t know,” Nyanue says. “So it's taking away the shame around talking about money but also taking away the shame about having it. If you’ve got it and you've worked for it, you shouldn't feel ashamed at all to create the life that you want. But if you don't have it and you aspire for it, you should not feel ashamed to ask questions and go to the sources who have it to get the help that you need.”

Here are Nyanue’s top tips for negotiating a raise and making sure you’re successful in your career and your life.

Solve your boss’ needs

The low-hanging fruit that everybody forgets about is that you're not negotiating with yourself. You go in typically thinking about what you want, but you never think about what the other person wants. If you're going to negotiate with the hiring manager, what does success look like for them? The first thing is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you're negotiating with: what does a win for them look like? What does a win for you look like? And where do those two intersect? That's your sweet spot to get what you're asking for.

Have the skills needed to match your raise

There are no favors in business. You are exchanging resources: your time and talents for a salary. There's no guilt in asking for what you think your time and talents are worth, you just have to believe that you are worth those things and then you have to have the receipts to back it up. Feelings are not facts and in negotiation, nobody cares how you feel. What can you actually prove? What do you have that says, “This is what I have to justify you increasing my bottom line by this much.”

Deliver the right data to justify your increase

In a negotiation, the person that you're talking to is usually not the final “yes.” Your job is to give that person enough data and information so that when they go and advocate for you to their boss, it's a no-brainer that everyone approves. 

Be prepared to bounce

This is hard for folks when you may need the job, but you have to have your walking away point. A job, regardless of how great it sounds, if it doesn't meet your minimums, it's not the job for you. If you take it, you’re gonna be miserable and back searching for a new job. Have your checklist of needs, the boxes that have to be absolutes. And then there’s the “God is showing out” category, which is above and beyond anything that's in the middle. For me, the “yes” in a negotiation comes somewhere between those two spots.

Recognize burnout

Black folks, we will always rise to the occasion. We do and we give and we're tired at the end, but was it worth it? When you're raising your hands for projects, jobs and opportunities, are you clear on how that helps you get to where you want to go? If you are, then it's worth it. If you are not, you’ve got to get some clarity because your career is a marathon, not a sprint. I know when I started, I hit it hard. And then by 30, I realized, this is not sustainable.

Remember your roots

A lot of times we try to hide who we are, what our parents did and what neighborhoods we're from, and we spend so much energy there that we don't have it to give for the things that would build us wealth. Who you are is everything that you need to prepare you for the person that you want to become. 

Learn to earn

Get the skills for the world that we live in today. There's absolutely no reason to not know something that you feel will help you move forward, whether that's virtual mentors or mentors in real life, communities and conferences. We have no excuse for not knowing the things that we need to know. I say this all the time, I may not know something the first time you ask me, but we will never go back to that topic and I don't know what I'm talking about. You can't be ashamed about what you don't know and let that stop you from actually getting that knowledge.

Give yourself a high five

Celebrate your success. It’s so easy as Black folks to be on to the next. It’s because we don't want people to think we're arrogant or we think we're too much. We are too much. And that's OK. Black women are literally out here doing it with so many odds stacked against us. And we are doing it gracefully, we are doing it excellently and we are doing it well. So please, if I can say nothing else to Black women, give yourself some grace and celebrate all of the things that you've accomplished.