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Advice to Women: Do Your Homework Before Seeking a Raise, and Ask Boldly

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The following was written by Gary Rawlins:

For women in the workplace, negotiating pay can be a daunting task. But there are ways to navigate the process.

Overcome your fear of asking: Ask nicely if you have to, but ask. If you don’t ask, your career might stall. “I never heard of anyone getting canned for asking for a raise,” says Kerry Hannon, a personal finance and retirement expert.

Schedule a meeting: Let your boss know that you would like to sit down to discuss your career. Be positive, diplomatic and assertive. Bring the case you’ve compiled, along with industry research to help defend your case.

“Don’t wait until your annual review,” says Hannon, a member of TIAA’s expert panel on Woman2Woman. “The money for the year has already been assigned. Your boss can’t ramp up your pay without taking away from someone else.”

Create a case: Be your own best advocate. Keep track of all your accomplishments and contributions. When you sit down with your boss to review performance, be able to cite specific examples and reasons why you deserve a raise.

“Tell your story,” says Selena Rezvani, author and co-owner of the leadership policy firm, Women’s Roadmap. “Start with a compelling lead or hook, the way journalists do. Present your evidence. Weave any potential objections into your story.”

Make your boss prove with specific examples why you don’t deserve a raise.

Do your research: Check out websites such as salary.com, pays cale.com and glassdoor.com for national averages and pay ranges in your industry, city and region. The Economic Research Institute site can show you what a particular position pays where you live.

Consider timing: Don’t ask for a raise a week after a broad layoff or when your boss is in the middle of a particularly stressful project or season.

Be patient: A salary adjustment usually takes some time to get the necessary approvals. If the raise  does not go into effect after a paycheck cycle or two, consider asking casually for a timing update.

 Don’t take rejection personally: When you hear “no,” take it as “not yet.” Don’t become bitter and resentful or develop a bad reputation because you didn’t get the raise you sought. Try again when the timing is better. There may be factors in play beyond the control of your boss.

Be assertive early in your career. If you don’t, it will cost you money later. Pay inequality is real. The sooner you close the pay gap the faster your retirement nest egg grows.

The power of compounding can turn a small sum into a very significant amount over the course of a career. A salary differential as little as $5,000 annually on your first job can add up to a wealth difference of $500,000 or more by retirement.