Have you heard? Women still get paid less than men. In fact, Economic Policy Institute reports that in 2016, women earn an average of 22% less per hour than men. (Here's how to tell if you're underpaid.)
While you can’t go back in time and negotiate your starting pay, you can aim to get a raise this year. Here’s advice from experts on how to get paid what you deserve.
Determine what you're bringing to the table
Before asking for a raise, you need to figure out why you deserve one, said Kathlyn Hart, financial empowerment coach.
“You can’t just say, ‘Oh I work hard,’ because everyone works hard,” she says.
Before asking for a raise, you should ask yourself questions like: What are your job duties? How are you excelling beyond them?
“At the end of the day, a raise can only be merited because you’re helping your company move further,” she says. “Or because you’re holding responsibilities above and beyond your current job description.”
One of the best things you can do as a woman is be vocal. Here are some more things you can do to lower the gender pay gap.
Communicate with your boss
If you have regular meetings with your supervisor, get straight to the point — and acknowledge that you’d like a future raise or promotion.
“When you’re in a one-on-one with your boss, tell her about your career aspirations and find out what it will take for you to get there,” Jacqueline Twillie, a negotiation strategist, said.
Be sure to amplify any positive feedback, too.
“Accept the compliment and share it with your direct supervisor. If you downplay your contributions, so will everyone else,” Twillie said.
Do your research
Once you’ve taken the necessary actions to merit a raise, it’s time to determine your target number.
Career websites will give you a range, but you should also consider the amount of value you bring to the company.
“I always encourage [upping] your expectations a little bit. You don’t want to negotiate against yourself before the negotiation has even happened,” Hart said.
Prepare your case
If you’re afraid of negotiation, the best armor you have is information.
Consider asking peers or mentors how your organization generally handles raises and promotions, said Ashley Paré, the CEO and founder of Own Your Worth.
“The more you know up front, the less stressful the experience will be,” says Paré.
Hart advises preparing a one-pager that outlines your accomplishments and your competitive research. Twillie recommends including metrics that are important to your manager, too.
“Negotiation is a conversation — not a battle — and the more information you’ve gathered prior to the discussion, the better-informed [case] you’ll be able to make,” says Twillie.
The big ask
Once you’re in the meeting with your boss, avoid diving straight into the salary talk. Instead, Hart says you should discuss the following:
- What you’ve accomplished over the past year
- How much you’ve enjoyed being a part of the company
- What you’re most proud of
- What you’re excited to tackle next
“When a company gives you a raise, it’s not just based on your past,” explains Hart. "It’s also on your promise for what you’re delivering in the future."
Usually, Hart says it’s better to leave the discussion open and see what your manager offers. Don't be discouraged if you don't get an answer right away — your boss will likely have to run an offer by a higher-up.
Read more about the right way to ask for a raise here.
Accept your fears
Still nervous? That’s totally normal.
To combat your anxiety, Paré suggests identifying your biggest fear. Are you worried about “ruining” your relationship with your boss? Are you afraid you don’t deserve more?
“You’re capable of handling any outcome. So face your fear and take action anyway,” says Paré.
To push yourself, imagine how it would feel to pay 10% more on your student loans each month, or to accumulate thousands of dollars in extra savings over the next few years. Here are some more things you can spend that raise money on.
Hart also notes that, when you make an ask, you’ll nearly always be successful in some way. Even if you don’t get the raise you were looking for, you’ll gain the knowledge or confidence to land one in the future.
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” she said.
Staying stagnant in your job may be a sign to look for a new one. Here's where to look.
This article originally appeared on Chime.