5 Essential Facts Women Should Know Before Asking for a Raise

American women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And one way to close that gender-gap is to ask.

In more than a century since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (when women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men), little progress has been made to enforce equal pay. Asking for timely pay raises is a step in the right direction. It's something women can do to spearhead change and eradicate income inequality.

1. Don't Wait for Annual Raises

Don't rely on an annual 5% to 10% pay raise. Annual pay raises are discretionary and may be based on your annual review, where HR evaluates your performance and contributions to the company. Depending on your company's review process, some of your achievements could get overlooked. Instead, go to your employer directly with a list of your accomplishments and ask for the salary you want.

2. Ask Because You Deserve it, Not Because You Need It

Understandably, there are times when we all need more money. But, what's going on in your personal life does not warrant asking for a pay increase. Only ask for raises based on value to the company, not personal need. This means that asking directly after you've made one or two significant contributions to the company is a good idea. Talk up your achievements and state your goals for the company in the future.

3. Know Your Worth

Take an assessment of your worth. Find out what others in your industry who have been on the job for as long as you have earn. Investigate some of their contributions. And what are some of the skill-sets they acquired along the way that your employer deems valuable? Do they go that extra step? If so, what are they doing?

4. Relax and Don't Become Emotional

Exude confidence. Go into the conversation with a clear and level head. Don't expect personal relationships to play a role in your employer's decision of whether you deserve a raise or not. It's strictly business and you should be too.

5. Be Prepared for "No"

Timing is a key consideration. If your company simply can't afford to boost your pay, you won't be getting a raise. Before you ask, be sure the company is reaching its performance goals (this information is often divulged during sales meetings or published as highlights in newsletters).

If your proposed pay raise is still poorly received and you know you're worth it, be prepared to give your resume a facelift. It might be possible for you to exceed your salary expectation. Often small companies and start-ups will pay more to acquire and retain talented highly qualified individuals, but may offer less job security. So, look on the bright side. You can take your vacation days and start your job search.

Have you asked for a raise? How'd it go?

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