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How to quantify your success in interviews and contract negotiations

Mandi Woodruff-Santos, Co-Host of the Brown Ambition Podcast, details how workers can quantify their success when interviewing for a job or negotiating salary.

Video Transcript

- Well, wage growth surged in the month of July as average hourly earnings jumped 0.5% for the month and 5.2% from a year ago. But for those who weren't so lucky enough to earn a pay bump last month, how can workers ask for a raise amid layoffs, hiring freezes, and recession fears? Well, Mandi Woodruff-Santos, Yahoo Finance contributor and co-host of "Brown Ambition Podcast," is here to tell us. So Mandi, if you are one of these people who didn't jump up, you stayed put at your job, what should you say to ask for a raise in this sort of environment?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: I know it seems a little counterintuitive. The economy is giving us so many mixed signals right now. But as a career coach, I have a front row seat to the madness. And I have seen clients negotiating for raises now, not a year ago, but now, and actually getting them. So it's absolutely possible, especially if you deserve it. There's lots of people because of the high quit rates who have been set with more responsibilities. They're covering employees who have left. So I think you're well warranted if you're going to make a case for yourself why you deserve a raise and actually making that conversation happen now. So I'm definitely here to give you all some tips on how to secure the bag.

- First off, is this conversation-- should it be driven around how much more it costs to live? Should you drive this conversation about inflation or about your value?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Strategically, no. Employers don't really base these raises on the cost of living. Although, we've heard phrases like cost of living raises. What they really base it on is the cost of labor. And I think going into a negotiation, you really want to focus on how your contributions have warranted a raise because everyone's dealing with inflation. But what is it about you that warns a significant raise? I'm not talking about half a percentage point. I'm talking about double digit percentages or maybe even a retention bonus. So bring the data and focus on what have you done to impact your team in a positive way and really make a case for why you deserve out of anyone else a pay bump.

- Mandi, what about a competing job offer? How effective is that?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Oh yeah. I have this phrase, always be looking. ABL. You should always be taking job interviews even if you're not sure. I know you mentioned some people right now because of these mixed signals of the economy are maybe more wanting to shelter in place, maybe not being as risk takey-- risk takey, that's a new phrase I just invented-- taking as big a risk to find new opportunities. And that's fine.

But still take interviews. It can never hurt to just see what's out there. And always stay in tune with, when you're on those interviews, how are they valuing you? What ranges of salaries are they offering? And then of course if it comes to the fact that you get a competing job offer, there's no better leverage out of negotiation than the possibility that you may leave. So competing job offers definitely give you an extra case for that raise.

- So in terms of the elements that make up a good conversation about asking for a raise, what are some things, some points that people should make sure that they hit in those conversations?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Change over time. I know as journalists you guys are constantly, for myself too, looking at the change over time. So over the past year, let's say, or over the past six months, how have you impacted your team? How have things grown? How has your revenue grown? How many new clients have you taken on? Pay attention to the hours you're working. How have those increased? How have the projects that you're working on-- what are those KPIs, key performance indicators? And how have you blown expectations out of the water? I want people to go into these conversations prepared.

So it doesn't have to mean a very fancy PowerPoint presentation. It can just be a Google Doc. You show your screen. You go through the bullet points of what you've accomplished. But come prepared to have facts and data. And do not expect your manager to tap you on the shoulder and say, you, I've noticed how hard you're working. Everyone's really busy right now. So you're going to have to toot your own horn. You're going to have to come to the table with that evidence of how you've really impacted your team over the long term.

- What if you can't necessarily quantify how you've changed things? Or if you don't work in an industry that really allows you to do so, then what?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: I get this question a lot. I speak to mostly women through my practice. And women are often tasked with exactly those types of jobs or tasks or responsibilities that aren't super quantifiable. But that's where I say come up with your own measure of success. So for example, when I was a senior director running a content team, I came up with a survey of my team. And I would use that as a way to determine our success. Were people happy with their work?

I also developed for myself with content, what's the quality of the content? Who measures that? I created a KPI. I created a measuring rubric for my team's content. So you can actually come up with your own version of a way to track your success.

And just start calling it what it is. Sending that in a weekly recap email or a monthly recap email to your manager. Also, don't discount those things where you are actually taking care of projects that actually help employee morale. Point that out. It's a little bit, like you said, a little bit tougher to quantify those things. But they're still meaningful. And I hope that solid leadership will take notice of those things and actually say, this person is giving us very real value here, so let's show them in return that we value them.

- Taking a lot of detailed notes here. Mandi Woodruff-Santos, great stuff. Appreciate you being here.