Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Advice for Freelancer Asking for Raise

DEAR NATALIE: I have been freelancing for this company for a while and have really helped them revamp their online business to the point where they are making almost double the money they were when I came on board. I'm a single mother and in dire financial straits. I couldn't even afford a new tire recently when mine went flat on my way home from work and feel as though I am entitled to a raise and an offer for a full-time position because of the improvements I've made. But I'm terrified to broach the subject. Any thoughts on how I should go about this? Or should I just not say anything at all? -- UNDERPAID

DEAR UNDERPAID: This is the classic issue women often have when negotiating for a better position, or when looking for a new job. I've read in different studies that women are so afraid that they aren't qualified, they don't apply because they don't believe they would get the job. Then, on the other side of things, you have men who apply for positions even when not qualified. (And they sometimes get the job!) So, what's a girl to do? Take a leap of faith. I have often gone after things that may have been perceived as just out of reach and achieved them because I believed I could do it. I always say to myself, "I will figure this out. If the right opportunity comes along, I will say yes and I will make it work." Call it blind faith, call it stupidity, call it courage, whatever it is, part of success is sometimes thinking less and jumping more. A little risk is good and if you know that you have the ability to adapt, to think on your feet and to learn quickly, you can take almost any opportunity presented and run with it. So, apply for the job, see where the chips fall, but don't count yourself out. If you aren't your own best advocate, you can't expect anyone else to help you. Just go for it!

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Never underestimate the power of the follow-up note. Sending a handwritten thank-you note following a job interview can go a long way. It will reiterate your interest, show that you care and will take the time for things that matter, and put you in the forefront of their minds.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)