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TorchTalk: When & How to Ask for a Raise

In early 2019, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation (PTTFWF) established the bi-monthly TorchTalks program, a yearlong discussion series for Developing Professionals. TorchTalk is a chance for Developing Professionals to network, connect with Pass the Torch seasoned professionals, gain knowledge on navigating their career paths, and have a platform to ask questions.

The second TorchTalk of the year this past March was on the topic of “When and How to Ask for a Raise,” with speakers Patty Prosser (Co-founder of The Center for Leadership Excellence) and Kathleen Hart (Partner at Riley, Bennett, Egloff LLP). Both Patty and Kathleen are PTTFWF 500 Circle members and advocates for developing women leaders through mentorship.The panel discussion was moderated by Amna Sohail, who serves as the Chair of the PTTFWF Developing Professionals Committee.  Below are some of my key takeaways.

The top things a professional needs in order to ask for a raise, according to Patty, is to make sure you’ve done your job really well first, as that’s the price of admission. Do your homework, and be prepared with a list of your accomplishments to have something to stand on. One suggestion that Patty offered was to keep a success diary at work, and use it at every review with your manager (and make sure to include the small successes and things you are proud of as well!). A success diary also goes a long way to increasing your confidence.

I loved both Patty and Kathleen’s perspective on the process of negotiating a raise. They touched on key points such as:

  • The timing of your ask and the most appropriate time to negotiate a raise based on certain factors (tenure, company performance, change in responsibilities, company revenue cycles, personal performance/success, etc..)
  • Quantifying your value and justifying the ask for a raise by doing the research about what is appropriate to ask for and being informed about the difference between cost of living adjustments versus merit raises
  • The difference in negotiating pay when you have received a job offer for a new job and when going for a raise at your established position

Kathleen had some great insight for how to handle rejection and the first things to do when you don’t get what you ask for. Kathleen suggests using a rejection as a learning opportunity, and to not stop at the first no. She reminded the audience of women that women tend to negotiate differently than men, women normally stop when they hear the word “no”, while men tend to try a new direction to get to their ideal result. Some questions to ask during a negotiation when you hear a no would be, “What is something I can do better before my next review?”, “What would a reasonable expectation be, and why?”.

Both Kathleen and Patty shared some incredible insights that will really benefit our Developing Professionals when it’s time to ask for a raise. Thank you to Katz, Sapper & Miller for hosting!

Our next TorchTalk is on May 8th at Industrious and the topic will be “How to Say ‘No’ and When to Say ‘Yes'”. If you are interested in attending and joining the Developing Professionals program, please contact

Written by: Kelly Ragle, Senior Project Coordinator at Ponduras, and member of the Pass the Torch Developing Professional Committee.