Tips for women on how to ask for a pay rise, and get it

It’s often been reported that women simply don’t ask for more money at work. Online and offline you’ll find pages upon pages of articles and statistics on this.

In 2003 it was reported that only 7% of female graduating university students attempted to negotiate an initial job offer, compared to 57% of men.

Ten years later in 2013 Elle published a survey that states 53% of women have never asked for a pay rise, compared to 40% of men.

A lot of work has been done since then to change societal norms, promote female role models and push towards narrowing the worldwide gender pay gap. The good news is that it seems to be working.

Last year a study of almost 5,000 workers by the University of California reported that there is little difference in the numbers of men and women asking for a pay rise.

In less positive news in terms of “getting,” there is a “systematic difference by gender. “

The reasons behind this are complex and often contradictory, but there are things we can do to ensure men and women are treated equally in terms of negotiating pay rises.

Below are some of my top tips on how to ask for a pay rise, and to get it.

5 Tips for Negotiating a Pay Rise

Money is a touchy subject and it can be uncomfortable to ask for more of it, but if you’re doing your job well it shouldn’t have to be.

By addressing the topic, we can also make it more normal and commonplace for younger female workers and our own children.

When asking for a pay rise it’s all about how you ask. Do your research, know what salary averages are in your industry and most of all be confident in your own self-worth

1. Know how much you want to earn

First, know how much you want to earn. If you have this figure in mind it’ll be easier to accept or decline an offer. For example, if your goal is to earn 60k and you are lowballed it’ll be clear that it’s not the role for you.

2. Know what the bargaining range is

Secondly and perhaps more importantly – know what the bargaining range is. If you ask for an unrealistic figure it’s realistic to think you won’t get it.

Research current market trends and internal trends within the company. If a higher base salary isn’t an option think about other benefits such as flexible work, additional annual leave or bonuses.

Ascertain what’s acceptable to ask for, see if it aligns with your expectations and then begin to build your pay raise case.

3. Have the information you need to show you deserve it

What do I mean by building your case? If you’re going to ask for more money, you’re going to need the information to back up why you deserve it. Have you exceeded your goals? Have you helped the company increase profits?

Statistics and data are particularly impactful, but don’t neglect the human element – are you the go-to person within your team? Have you built important client relationships or cross-functional relationships internally? Always focus on your value rather than your desire for a higher wage.

4. Talk about it

Talk to family and friends that you are comfortable speaking with. Irish people tend to avoid the topic of salaries but there is power in knowledge. How did they negotiate? If they are an employer, why would the reject or give a pay raise to an employee?

If you’re uncomfortable speaking to friends’ recruiters can be a great help. Speaking about wages and pay raises also normalises the conversation and removes some of the worries of broaching the topic with an employer.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about transparent pay and it’ll be interesting to see how this begins to materialise across businesses.

5. Avoid negativity or entitlement

Finally, be open and approachable in your negotiations. Avoid negativity or entitlement, no matter what your gender. If you don’t get the offer you wanted and there is no room for negotiating, remember there are other options too.

Maybe it’s time for a new opportunity or if you’re happy in your role to see if there’s an opportunity for increased benefits (extra annual leave, flexible work, commitment to education or career progression, etc.) over a rise in remuneration.

There are many societal influences surrounding the anxiety associated with asking for a pay increase – whether you are a man or a woman.

If you do just one thing when prepping for a pay raise conversation be ready to give an “elevator pitch” on your accomplishments, previous experience and the value you can add. In short, always know your unique value proposition (UVP).

If you don’t get the offer you wanted and there is no room for negotiating, remember saying no is an option. If you’re negotiating with a current employer you might be rejected the first time you ask, but don’t let this put you off ever asking again.

In the same 2013 report by Elle mentioned at the start of this article, it states 89% of men and women who tried to negotiate a higher salary when starting a new job were successful.

By succumbing to the societal norm of “women won’t ask” we’ll only prolong the widening gender pay gap. It might be a cliché but if you don’t ask you certainly won’t receive, and your negotiation skills won’t improve either. If you’d like more advice on this topic, please get in touch.

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