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So You Want A Promotion? This Career Expert Offers Negotiation Tips (And Email Templates) You Can Use Immediately

Arika Pierce helps professionals earn more—but she says they first need to learn how to articulate their worth. Here's some of her advice.

Salary negotiations can be scary.

But for Black women, they can be downright terrifying. Failing to successfully earn an adequate salary can disproportionately have adverse long-term affects due to the inherent barriers Black women already face.

On average, Black women earn 58 cents for every dollar the average white man makes per year, and it takes 263 days within the year for them to catch up.

Arika Pierce, esq. knows this struggle and she’s working to change it.

“My whole adult life has been a series of sink or swim moments,” the career strategist shared on her website. “Meaning, I’ve had to make quick decisions to succeed through my own efforts, or fail. Luckily, each time I chose to swim which meant I’ve had to take a lot of risks and step outside of my comfort zone in order to succeed. These experiences have shaped my life and lead me to break barriers that I didn’t even know were possible.”

After successfully climbing her way to leadership positions in federal and government relations, she said she learned her fair share of corporate insight. But that wisdom was initially couched with fear.

“I was excited to get these incredible promotions, but I definitely had a lot of what now is called imposter syndrome,” Pierce shared with ESSENCE. “It wasn’t called that back then. It was just you were scared. There were a lot of eyes on me, especially as a Black woman. And there are people in the company that were probably asking themselves why I landed the role and they didn’t. So I took my own professional development very seriously. I read all the books. I created my network of mentors. I started going to conferences, working on becoming a more effective communicator, and presenting if anybody had opportunities to stretch me or for me to learn different things. I really leaned into it. And so what happened was a lot of people started to come to me for advice.”

After doling out her tips for years, Pierce realized she needed to focus more solely on this skillset, and left her job to launch her own workplace and leadership consultancy. She also gathered everything she knows into her book, I Can. I Will. Watch Me. In it, she offers actionable insight on career advancement, particularly how to ask for and get more money.

“One of the things I think is important, especially when it comes to us as Black women, is we have to really remove that whole notion of keeping our head down, working hard, and letting our results speak for themselves, especially in this environment,” she told ESSENCE. “And I think that’s what a lot of us were taught. So we’re uncomfortable with talking about our accomplishments. We’re uncomfortable with really amplifying ourselves and claiming work. Sometimes it’s fine to say we, but “we” have to get comfortable with saying, ‘I did that, I delivered that, I created this.’ And so that’s the first thing. It’s a mindset shift that has to happen. I told someone just this week, ‘it’s not bragging if it’s facts, right? You’re just stating facts.’ Practice them every day in the mirror so that when it’s a high stakes conversation, it literally just flows right out of your mouth. And then number two, it’s so basic, but it’s just capturing your accomplishments, making sure that on either weekly, if not daily basis, you’re always really capturing your value, your results, especially if you can tie them to numbers and metrics and things that are of value to your organization.”

One of the easy ways she suggested tracking accomplishments is through a daily status update email to your boss.

Hi, [Boss’s Name],

EMAIL SUBJECT – Priority Tasks and Projects This Week


  • I finally [State accomplishment and its implication].
  • It looks like [State progress made].

Looking forward to catching up at our next one-on-one meeting!

After tracking progress for a time that feels comfortable and hitting some important successes Pierce says you should take the plunge and reach out to have the promotion conversation. But first, figure out what you’re going to say in the email. Here’s an example:

Hi [Skip-Level Boss’s First Name],

My name is [Your First Name], and I work. with [Your Boss’ Name] as [Your Title]. If possible, I’d like to schedule 30 minutes to learn more about your role at [Company Name]. I’d love to hear more about your journey and see if you have any tips on my career growth.

When you have an opportunity, could you share your availability over the next few weeks, or can I work with your assistant to schedule time with you?

Thank you,

[Your first name]

“I promise, once you’ve gotten into the habit of tracking your daily accomplishments, sending that email will be so much easier,” Pierce shared. “As Black women, we oftentimes prioritize everything else but ourselves. And even as it relates to our career, I just think it’s so important to take that time, at least it could be 20 minutes once a week where you just pour some focus into yourself, some sort of development. You can do it.”