Feeling overworked and underpaid? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey by a US staffing company, 49% of women feel they should be getting paid more than they currently do.
And of course, if the gender pay gap has taught us anything, it’s that this feeling is not unsubstantiated: latest figures reveal that in the UK, women are paid on average 13.7% less than men.
So how to change this? Well, the old adage, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ certainly still applies to pay rises, but if you want to be taken seriously you need to go beyond vague requests or dramatic ultimatums and take a considered, serious approach.
To help you on your way, we turn to the experts to find out what you need to do, to finally start getting paid your worth.
Take a two-pronged approach
It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that, according to pricing consultant Casey Brown, women underprice themselves more than men. To overcome this, she argues in her TED talk, women need to first learn to define their value, and then communicate it.
Forget worrying about ‘tooting your own horn’ and instead look at how you meet the needs of your employer/client, focusing particularly on what you love about your job, and what excites you.
Simply understanding your value in terms of how you serve others makes it a lot easier to communicate it, says Brown, giving as an example a woman who stopped referring to herself as owning ‘a little web design company’ and started charging three times as much for her services.
Do your research
As well as understand why you deserve to be paid more, make sure you know how much more you want, and that you can demonstrate why.
Managing director at Personal Career Management, Corinne Mills, says this research is essential but simple – use online salary checkers and look at advertised roles in your industry. You could also try speaking to HR about how pay increases are calculated in your company.
Brian Tracy – author of Earn What You're Really Worth recommends going one step further and actually asking your boss what it is you need to do to qualify for a pay increase. ‘There is no point in your working hard if you don’t know exactly what it is that you have to do to get paid more and promoted faster,’ says Tracy. He has a point.
Write it down
Asking for more money necessitates more than an informal chat. Quantify your contribution to the company by writing down what you’ve achieved, how you’ve exceeded your assigned responsibilities, etc; you need to make a strong case for why your employer benefits from having you on board.
And as Charles Cotton, reward adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development points out, your boss may have superiors that s/he needs to persuade in turn. Having your case laid out on paper reduces the risk of a truncated version being passed on.
Know what ails your employer… then offer to fix it
Her talk of reaching through membranes and showing your worth to the universe is not to everyone’s taste, but in a piece for Forbes, author and ‘workplace thought leader’ Liz Ryan makes a compelling case for understanding what it is that causes your employer ‘pain’. What is it that they keep coming unstuck over? More specifically - how can you help them overcome this hurdle?
Once you’ve defined that, you can ask them for a pay increase with more confidence. ‘I can get rid of these issues, but to take on extra responsibilities, I need this much more money.’
Sounds simple but, according to Brian Tracy ’85% of your success in work… is determined by your attitude and your personality’. Positive people are allegedly more supported by their co-workers and are ‘more readily noticed by superiors who can accelerate his or her career’.
But positivity is about more than whistling into work on a grey Monday morning. Real positivity, says Tracy, shines through in moments of high stress – if you can show a constructive, rather than a destructive mindset when everything’s going wrong, your superiors should sit up and notice.
It’s important to remember that being paid more is about more than improving finances. Feeling valued is key to feeling confident, which is in turn key to performing well, so if you’re not realising your full earning potential – take action.