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May 16, 2013

Leveling the Paying Field

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Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis

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OUR SALARY NEGOTIATION GUIDE

The best way to fight back against the wage gap? Make sure you're paid what you deserve. M.J. Tocci, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, and Evelyn Murphy and Annie Houle at The WAGE Project, a nonprofit that offers negotiation workshops for women, give their step-by-step process.

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR WORTH

You can use an online salary calculator as a starting point—try salary.com or glassdoor.com —but for a real sense of what your paycheck should look like, take a few trusted non-coworker mentors or former managers (both men and women) to coffee. Say, "I'm thinking about requesting a raise for X job. In your experience, what's the appropriate salary range for this position?"

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR TIME WISELY

Managers can only work with a certain amount of money during annual review cycles. If you're asking for a small raise—anything less than $5,000—request it then. If you're asking for a larger amount, strategize your timing: Schedule a meeting off-cycle and after you've scored a big office win, like bringing in a new account or a game-changing grant. Frame it as a discussion about your work: "I'm excited about what my team has done this quarter, and I want to take this opportunity to talk about my career development and my future here at the company."

STEP 3: TRY IT OUT

Role-play your salary conversation with a trusted friend, partner, or family member. Tell the other person exactly what you're most afraid of hearing—"You don't deserve that salary" or "Why do you think we'd give you that?" The more you're able to practice responding directly to your fears, the less anxious you'll be before the big meeting.

Go into the meeting with two numbers in mind: a high target (your ideal salary) and a low (your walk-away number). Mentally prioritize a list of other benefits to request—your title, vacation time, stock options, retirement packages, and whether you have an office or a cubicle.

STEP 4: YOU'VE GOT THE MEETING!

Start with a well-rehearsed five-minute pitch. Include your accomplishments and the benefits you've brought to the company; what you're paid now; and what your salary range should be, according to your well-sourced research. Let them give you a number first. (If you must throw out a number, offer your high target.) Don't use wishy-washy language, like "I really believe I deserve this" or "I know I'm not an expert, but …" Once you have an offer, ask for 24 to 48 hours to think about it. If they can't give you what you deserve, say, "I understand, but I'd like to come back in six months and ask again. What do I need to do to make that possible?"


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