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Five Foolproof Ways to Negotiate a Raise

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Get paid what you’re worth. 

By Brittany Knies

We’ve all heard the statistic that women make 78.6 percent of what men earn in similar positions. That means the homes we can afford are 20 percent smaller than those of our male counterparts, our cars have to be 20 percent cheaper and vacations must be taken 20 percent less often. And it’s partially our fault.

In their book Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever dive into the gender gap. They point out that part of the reason women earn less is because we ask for less. Take a look at these statistics from the book:

  • Women negotiate 30 percent less than men, and when they do, they ask for as much as $16,000 less.
  • In a study of students with master’s degrees entering the job market, male students were eight times more likely to negotiate a higher starting salary than their female counterparts, who were more likely to take the first salary offered.
  • By not negotiating their starting salary, women could potentially be giving up more than $500,000 in earnings during the course of their careers.

The bottom line is women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what they believe they deserve.

Negotiate a raise.

If you feel you aren’t getting paid what you’re worth and need some guidance, here are five foolproof ways to negotiate a raise. The statistics show it. Women have to be the ones to take responsibility for our future. That includes how much money we bring home. Check each of these off your list before stepping foot into your boss’ office.

  • Do your job and do it well. That is the bare minimum. No one is going to throw more money at someone who can’t complete projects on time or submits sloppy work. So, before you go any further toward getting a raise, make sure you’re doing great at work. If you’re unsure whether you’re excelling, then you probably aren’t. But if you still would like some feedback, ask your boss if there is anything lacking in your work and how he or she would like you to improve. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next step.
  • Show your value. Doing your job well is great, but you’re already getting paid to do your job. If you want to negotiate a raise, you need to go above and beyond your current responsibilities to show you’re an investment worth making. How exactly do you do this? You can become the resident expert in one facet of your job or show you’re a team player by staying late to finish a project or help a co-worker finish his or hers. Maybe pitch an idea and take the lead on seeing it through, start to finish. Whatever you can do to prove you are dedicated and valuable to the company is going to prove instrumental to seeing more cash in your bank account.
  • Do your homework. Before negotiating a raise, figure out how much additional income to actually pursue. Do you know what is reasonable? Glassdoor, Linkedin Salary and PayScale give a good baseline for the salary range for your position within your geographic location. These will provide a good starting point for the amount of money you ask for. But don’t be limited by what you find. If you feel you bring more value, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more.
  • Come with ammunition. The moment you walk into your boss’ office to talk about your salary, you need to have ammunition in your pocket. You’re trying to warn him or her to the idea of a raise. Even if you are a stellar employee, you need to offer something in return for forking out more money for you. Here’s your arsenal:
  1. Take on more responsibility. Say you’ve noticed your co-worker can’t manage one of her clients or that your boss has taken on tasks that should fall on someone else.  Offering to take responsibilities off the plates of those who are overworked shows your boss you are willing to take on a bigger role in the company and are a team player.
  2. Don’t be generic. You want to come with specific examples of tasks you’ve personally noticed have fallen by the wayside. If you don’t know what those are, ask your co-workers. They’ll be more than willing to get your help on something they can’t fit into their schedules.
  3. Take the lead. Offer to lead a project you have proposed or one that your boss has been wanting to implement. This gives you the opportunity to prove your value. It may take longer to get that raise, but it also gives you time to show you can handle more responsibility. That’s what your boss really wants to see from you before increasing your pay.
  • Be willing to negotiate. Sometimes, there just isn’t room for increased payroll. But it doesn’t mean you still can’t negotiate better terms for yourself. Try to think what would suffice in exchange for higher pay. Maybe that’s working from home on Fridays or getting five additional vacation days a year. See if your boss will increase the match percentage on your 401(k) or be willing to discuss a bonus plan. Maybe your boss would cover your gym membership or dues to a professional organization.

Make a list of a few of these items before going into your meeting so you have a counter if your boss simply states a raise is not in the cards. It will show you want to stay with the company and are willing to compromise.

Remember, for most of us, it isn’t comfortable to negotiate a raise. However, no one is going to hand you more money just because you think you’re great. If you want it, you have to go get it.

This post originally appeared on Britt and the Benjamins and on Bravely. It has been republished here with permission. Some edits have been made.

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