3 CEOs Share the Secret to Actually Being Paid What You're Worth

by Michelle Guerrere

In honor of Equal Pay Day today, we’re tackling the topic of how to ask for the raise you deserve at work. As of last year, women in the U.S. made on average 76% of what men made, and the American Association of University Women estimates the pay gap won’t close until 2152.

A new study found that women under the age of 40 were as successful as men at receiving the pay bump they asked for. “That’s got to bode well for reducing the gender pay gap,” says Amanda Goodall, the study’s co-author. “For me, it feels like the tide is turning.” Of course, the tide can’t turn unless women continue to assert themselves and ask for the pay increase they deserve. We’ve broken down the process of negotiating a raise so the only thing you have to worry about is crafting a convincing proposal.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

“Find out your market rate,” says Rachel Hofstetter, CMO of Chatbooks. “Knowing that number and staying true to it as you move through your career is a sign of strength.” Research what employees make in similar roles at comparable companies in your area using websites like PayScale and LinkedIn Salary. Also be sure to look into whether your company is on a hiring freezeif so, it may be a good time to start looking outside your organization. Before going into your meeting, know hard facts and exactly what pay increase you are going to ask for.

SCHEDULE A MEETING

It should go without saying that timing is everything. Make sure to block off a time that will work for your manager (and that he or she will be most receptive to). According to online scheduling service When Is Good, most people tend to accept invitations for Tuesdays at 3 p.m., so by default that is likely a good time to set aside. Be sure to be upfront about the nature of your conversation so your manager can also prepare.

MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

Sometimes you know for a fact a co-worker is making more money than you, but it’s not wise to point that out. You are way more likely to get a salary increase if you make your negotiation about you and the positive work you are doing. “Managers will often be more open to talking about your specific case rather than comparing your case to a colleague’s,” says Ooshma Garg, CEO and founder of Gobble. “Keeping the focus on your performance and your talent will help you land the salary increase you deserve.”

PRACTICE YOUR PITCH

Practice makes perfect. Enlist the help of an industry mentor, close friend, or family member to listen to your pitch. Remember to ask them to be critical: It’s not helpful if they don’t point out any mistakes you may have made or things you’ve left out. The goal is to leave this meeting feeling ready to pitch your manager, so make sure you’re equally prepared for your practice round.

WEAR A POWER OUTFIT

This doesn’t have to be a power suit if your office is much more casual. The key is to wear something that makes you feel confident. It may help to add a pop of color that makes you feel good. Red is historically a feel-good color—Victoria Beckham reveals she wears the shade when she needs a little extra boost of power and energy.

STAY POSITIVE

Yes, the point is that you want a raise, but sometimes that may not be in the cards right now. “Stay positive and open-minded,” says LinkedIn’s head of social good, Meg Garlinghouse. Your manager will appreciate your gratitude and composure and will be more likely to give you a salary bump when the time comes that there is more money to allocate.

FOLLOW UP

Ask your manager if there’s anything else they’d like to hear or see from you. Also be sure to ask about timeframes if the increase is approved—sometimes an official salary bump can take a while to go into effect (you don’t want to be spending money before you make it). No matter the outcome, be sure to properly thank your boss for taking the time to meet with you—a handwritten note never hurts.

Be sure to read about how men can help us close the pay gap for good, and tell us what you’re doing to support Equal Pay Day in the comments.

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