By Renee Franklin
In the United States, women make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce; and yet women continue to earn less than men. While the debate about the wage-gap rages on, countless studies demonstrate that women are less likely to ask for a raise than their male counterparts. Evaluating and asking for what you want from your job helps to create a culture that values women as primary wage earners. The following steps will help you figure out exactly what you want from your career, how to ask for it, and how to get it.
Figure Out What is Important
While searching for a new job or preparing ask for more in your current position, spend time reflecting on what it is that you want beyond more zeros in your paycheck. For working moms, flexibility and remote-work options might be of the utmost importance; educational reimbursement is a big plus to those who want to return to school; and for women who have been in their industries for some years, new and challenging projects may be what they desire for career satisfaction. Make a list of what you want out of your job (don’t hold back) and prioritize the items from greatest to least. Your top “want” is what you will need to focus on as you move forward.
Knowledge is power! Get your finger on the pulse of your industry — find out what your peers at other companies are earning so you know exactly how much you can ask for and gauge your chances of getting a “yes.” Onetonling.org is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and provides accurate job descriptions and pay information across all industries. Use it to compare your level of education, experience and pay rate to others in your field and geographic area.
Strut your stuff! Toot your horn! Celebrate your victories! If things are going smoothly, people don’t often notice others’ contributions and successes, and it pays off to bring attention to yours. Women in particular shy away from shining light on their strengths. Experts advocate for women to get into the habit of highlighting their professional attributes in the workplaces so when it comes time to ask for a raise, your boss has no question as to what you’re worth. Make a list of things you have accomplished over the past few months and continue to add to it.
Speak the Right Language
So, you know what you want, you know what you’re worth, and you know how you contribute to the success of the company: Now is the time to speak to your boss, present your case and ask for what you want. When asking for a raise, the most common mistake is to internalize your reason: “I need a raise so I can make more money.” To be successful in this conversation, you need to highlight how your raise (or time off, flexible work schedule or tuition reimbursement) will benefit the company. This is where showing off comes in! Demonstrating your value with solid performance documentation gives you great leverage. Your bosses will recognize you as an asset, one they don’t want to lose to the marketplace.
After taking the aforementioned steps, if your superiors aren’t keen to give you whatever you have asked for, put leaving the company on the table. This should be done calmly; make your employer aware that, based on your level of experience, you do have other options for employment. Let them know that while you may love your job, you are willing to look elsewhere to find a company that will meet your needs. Based on your boss’ reaction, you may get a solid read on how valued you are in the organization.