Women Today

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How to negotiate (and get) a salary increase

Salaries in the workplace have long been a hot-button issue for women. The differences in compensation for males and females continues to draw the attention of politicians and gender equality advocates alike.

The United States Department of Labor noted that, in 2015, the median weekly earnings for full-time male workers increased by 2.2 percent from the year prior. During that same period, female earnings increased by just 0.8 percent. That latest data marks the third consecutive quarter that the increase in males' earnings doubled that of females. On average, women who work full-time earn 81.1 cents for every dollar men earn.

Women aware of that unfair gap in pay may feel helpless to address it with their bosses out of fear of being seen as unappreciative or selfish. In fact, addressing compensation makes many workers uncomfortable, regardless of their gender. According to a salary survey from PayScale, almost 60 percent of male and female workers do not ask for a raise. Negotiating salary increases requires finesse, timing and being informed. It also requires a certain measure of gumption. Here's how women can get the pay they deserve.

• Time it right. Many workers wait until they've become unsatisfied with their jobs to try to negotiate a raise, likely thinking that the higher salary will justify the stress or unhappiness they associate with their work. But workers may find it easier to discuss salary when they are happy and satisfied at work. Employers may sense your enthusiasm, and you'll be more likely to focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects fueling your request.

• Give yourself a confidence boost. Going into negotiations feeling grateful to accept anything is the wrong tactic. Sell your skills to yourself first before you share them with a boss. Make a list of why you deserve a raise and then back up those points with clear examples. Include past successful projects, your developing skill set, software experience, education, training, and anything else that boosts your résumé.

• Know your worth in advance. According to the book "Women Don't Ask" by authors Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever, women frequently underestimate their worth, often reporting salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than men for the same jobs. Find advertised positions that are similar to yours to determine the mean salary for your job, and request a salary that's more in line with the going rate for your position.

• Don't share why you want the raise. When discussing a potential raise, keep it about business and avoid personal reasons. You're more likely to get the raise if you keep personal reasons (i.e. bills piling up, school expenses, family vacations) out of the mix. Maintain your professionalism during the discussion. Otherwise, you may risk losing your boss's respect.

• Bring convincing materials. Have your "proof" in writing or in substantiated documents. You'll need to be as confident as possible and having the right information on hand can help seal the deal. Double- or triple-check your info before the meeting.

Negotiating raises can be nerve-wracking. But women should not hesitate to ask for compensation commensurate with their experience.