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How to ask for a pay raise as a woman successfully in this economy

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Feel like you should negotiate a pay raise? I mean, who doesn't like more money, especially when you know the market is paying higher elsewhere (or even within the same company)?

Emma’s quick take on how to ask for a pay raise as a woman

Know you're worth more, but afraid to ask for a salary increase? Women are the worst at this!

In Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, the authors show women negotiate 30% less often than men, and when we do, we ask for up to $16,000 less.

Low confidence, and lack of female role models in leadership positions are to blame. I also argue women are taught that prioritizing money is unseemly, and the equivalent to greedy. Eff that!

In 2015, the gender wage gap narrowed by just .4 of a percent. In fact, the pay gap “has not shown a statistically significant annual increase since 2007,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau!

Not surprising, this affects our individual wellbeing.

In this post, you will learn:

  1. What to focus on: It's business, not personal
  2. Do your research
  3. Update your resume

Need resume help? Upload your resume and get it reviewed for FREE from experts now >>

Ready to ask for that higher salary right now? Barbara Corcoran has advice for you:

Also, one of the best ways to get a pay raise is to switch jobs, or build a side-gig that can grow into a self-employed business. We put together a list of 30 jobs for single moms, including jobs with potential for a remote, flexible schedule.

How do you ask for a raise if you’re a woman?

A recent Payscale survey found nearly 60 percent of workers have never asked for a raise from their employer. It also found 44 percent of those who did discuss their current salary and requested higher pay, got one—and those who asked tended to be happier in their jobs than those who did not.

If you're one of the majority who has not approached your boss about a raise, start a plan of attack now. What follows is how to ask for a raise as a woman and negotiate a higher salary — or fees if you are self-employed or own a business:

A raise is business, not personal

The PayScale survey found employees avoid salary negotiation because they're worried about being fired or appearing too pushy (like women fear being called ‘bossy'?).

But a negotiation is not about whether people like each other; it's a conversation with the goal of coming to a mutual decision which benefits both parties. It can actually be a win-win situation, if you bring up the pay scale in the right manner.

If you are paid fairly, you are more committed to your work and company. Your boss feels more confident you will be a better employee and stay around longer. Bosses HATE replacing workers. It is expensive and time consuming.

Do your salary research

First, understand your value in the marketplace to see if there is really wiggle room, or if you are asking for a pay raise without a good reason.

Check sites like PayScale and CareerBuilder, look at comparable job postings, ask your colleagues, and inquire with industry associations and recruiters. Then, define your boss's and the company's greatest needs and challenges. Understand how your past performance and current skills address those pain points.

Whenever possible, quantify your success and put a number on it. Prove how your marketing efforts drove this much more traffic to the company's web site, or that you exceeded sales goals, which meant X million dollars in more revenue for them.

If your firm's top priority is to grow a certain segment of their business, show how your deep contacts within the group have already led to the bottom line, and can stand to contribute even more next year. Focus on the other party.

Also, consider timing. If it's been more than a year since your raise or hire, or evaluations are just several months away, now is a good time to approach the boss.

Most companies stipulate a certain sum of money for payroll, raises, and bonuses, and some of that can decided based on performance reviews. That said, even if your colleagues warn you that a raise is not likely, consider going for it anyway. But if there have been massive layoffs or any other kind of financial crises, you probably won't gain anything from going for it.

Before you walk into a job interview (either at a new company, or your current company, do your research, and have an idea about the salary that your position would demand.

If there is a phone interview before an in-person meeting, or if the introduction came through a recruiter or the human resources department, simply ask how much the position pays. You can say things like:

  • “What's the salary range for the position?”
  • “What is your budget for this role?”

If the numbers they share are lower than you'd hoped, but close enough for you to still take the interview, set some salary expectations in the pre-interview with statements like:

  • “My understanding is that this role, with my level of experience, would be closer to $XX,000. We can talk about it when we meet Wednesday.”
  • “Hm, that is lower than I'd expect. Is that number flexible?”
  • “[Dead silence. Let the interviewer fill the awkwardness with a bigger number. Trust me: This is super-uncomfortable BUT IT WORKS.]”

Update your resume

Updating your resume may be required for you to take to your boss or HR department to bolster your request for more money or a new position.

Even if this is not required, updating an old resume, or creating a new resume, is a valuable exercise, in that it helps you understand your own worth and experience. It can be a huge confidence boost to write down all your accomplishments and credentials.

Also: In the event that you do not get the raise or promotion you're after, it is critical to have at the ready a freshly updated resume to start sending out to recruiters.

Upload your resume and get it reviewed for FREE from experts now >>

Reasons to ask for a raise in this economy:

A raise is a positive in any economy. 

Today, with a stark worker shortage, employees are in a greater position to negotiate a raise and other perks, like flexible time off, work-at-home opportunities and other benefits. Here’s why: 

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.4 million people quit their jobs last year (compared to  42.1 million people in 2019). 
  • Female wages in February 2022 were up 4.4% from a year earlier, outpacing a 4.1% rise in male wages, as measured by the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s wage tracker. 

Even if you don’t plan to stay at your job much longer, it’s always a good idea to increase your current pay or negotiate a promotion and title change to leverage in a new position. 

With a potential recession looming, job insecurity is likely for most professions. Now is a good time to secure a raise before companies freeze hiring and promotions. You can also get a recession-proof job or start a recession-proof business.

Learn more about what a recession is and how a recession can affect you.

Ready to ask for a pay raise? Frequently asked questions

Common questions related to getting that pay raise or promotion.

How do I feel confident in asking for a raise? Here’s how in 4 steps

  1. Approach your boss about meeting to discuss your salary. Keep communication in line with your normal exchanges.

For example, if your boss is typically very direct, also be direct. If you have frank weekly lunch meetings, bring it up then. If you chat face-to-face throughout the day, it may seem unusually passive to suddenly approach them by email. Likewise, if you're on instant message throughout the workday, suddenly popping into their cubicle could be surprising.

Use this type of language to set up the meeting:

“Can we meet in the next week to discuss my compensation?”

  1. During the meeting, keep the tone light, direct, and non-emotional (it's business, not personal!).
  2. Arrive armed with documents backing your performance, but start with a verbal, top-line summary of your accomplishments, as well as any additional responsibilities you've taken on during your tenure.
  3. Don't forget to position your case to appeal to their interests. And don't take for granted your boss is aware of all of your duties or successes. If your research indicates you're paid below market, mention that, too. Here are some scripts:

“I believe my accomplishments deserve a salary of X, based on what other positions are paying, and my successes for the company.”

What to do when your boss won't give you a raise?

In the event you're turned down, ask about other benefits.

For example, see if your company pays a “spot bonus,” a reward for a single project done well. Or counter with a more flexible work schedule, more vacation time, or increased training possibilities.

If find difficulty getting a raise in your current situation, consider looking for a new job. Some of the biggest pay raises typically come when workers switch companies, research finds.

Also, explore career-level work-at-home jobs and side gigs. Here are work-at-home jobs that are great for moms, including virtual assistant, bookkeeper, proofreader and programmer/coder.

Might be time to consider opportunities for promotion within your company or another.

Fact: The biggest pay jumps of your career will most likely be when you change jobs, not from raises and promotions within the same company.

A 2019 study, conducted by payroll giant ADP, reports that employees who accept a new job saw an average pay increase of 5.3% at another company, vs the 4% pay raise their former peers who remained at the company received.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s data found similar trends.

How do I politely ask for a raise?

Annette Harris of Harris Financial Coaching suggests setting a meeting with your manager to review your recent contributions that justify why you should receive a raise. 

“These contributions could have increased company revenue, decreased employee turnover, or could have been innovative projects or processes that advanced the company in some way,” Harris says.

David Patterson-Cole, CEO of Moonchaser, a firm that helps employees negotiate higher salaries at major tech companies, says the key is to be polite, but firm. He says if you’re not committed to receiving a raise, then your employer will feel justified in ignoring you or giving you less than you're worth. 

“After all, if you don't recognize what you deserve, no one else will either,” Patterson-Cole says.

Melissa Carignan, a professional recruiter at Find My Profession, a career service that helps people find and get jobs, recommends asking for a review right after you’ve completed a big project that was beneficial to the company. 

“Clearly state the value you personally add to the company,” she says.

How much of a raise should I ask for?

Patterson-Cole says that because of the current rate of inflation, if you're asking for anything less than 10%, “you're basically taking a pay cut.”

Carignan says how much you ask for will depend on the current job market for your profession. 

“Look for an average salary for the role you're holding and the years of experience you have,” she says. “Consider the size of the company and the living expenses at your location.”

Laura Barker, a former HR professional from Toronto with 20+ years of experience who recently started a career coaching business, suggests reviewing online boards and talking to peers at other companies of similar size who hold a similar role. 

And if you don’t get the raise? 

“There are LOTS of jobs out there,” Barker says. “It’s a job seeker’s market today. If the company is unwilling to give you what you want, move on.” 

She says the biggest pay increases typically happen when you move from one company to another.

When is the best time to ask for a raise?

Patterson-Cole says the best time to ask for a raise is if you have an upcoming performance review.

“You can use that evidence as grounds for a pay bump,” he says. However, if your employer tries to delay a raise until your next performance review, it's a good chance to be polite yet firm in your resistance, particularly if the review is months down the road. 

“Every paycheck without your raise is an underpayment,” Patterson-Cole says.

Emily Meekins, CEO and founder of workstrat LLC, a company that coaches organizations and individual employees, says if your company doesn’t hold regular reviews, it’s best to ask for a raise at a time that makes sense for you as an employee. 

“There are a few natural rhythms — like as you're approaching your anniversary at the organization or in your role,” she says. If there's been a significant shift in your role, responsibilities, impact, or market value, that’s also an ideal time to make a move.

Barker says to schedule a specific block of time to ask for your raise instead of having an off-hand discussion. 

“It’s professional and reflects that you take yourself and the company seriously,” she says.

What is the average yearly raise?

ADP found in a 2019 study that employees who accept a job at another company saw an average jump in pay of 5.3%, while employees who remained at their current company saw a 4% pay raise.

What is the typical raise percentage?

A typical raise percentage is between 3-5% to adjust for inflation, which is generally around 2%, according to the Federal Reserve. However, high inflation has driven more companies to give higher raises this year. According to Payscale’s 2022 Compensation Best Practices Report, 44% of companies plan to raise worker pay by more than 3% this year, the highest rate in six years. 

You can calculate your potential earnings with this pay raise calculator.

Tell me: What do women you know do to sabotage their finances? What do you tell them? Share in comments, ladies!


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How do you ask for a raise if you’re a woman?

If you're one of the majority who has not approached your boss about a raise, start a plan of attack now. Remember, a raise is business, not personal.

How do I feel confident in asking for a raise?

1. Approach your boss about meeting to discuss your salary. Keep communication in line with your normal exchanges.
2. During the meeting, keep the tone light, direct, and non-emotional (it's business, not personal!).
3. Arrive armed with documents backing your performance, but start with a verbal, top-line summary of your accomplishments, as well as any additional responsibilities you've taken on during your tenure.
4. Don't forget to position your case to appeal to their interests. And don't take for granted your boss is aware of all of your duties or successes. If your research indicates you're paid below market, mention that, too.

What to do when your boss won't give you a raise?

In the event you're turned down, ask about other benefits. If find difficulty getting a raise in your current situation, consider looking for a new job. Some of the biggest pay raises typically come when workers switch companies, research finds.

How much of a raise should I ask for?

David Patterson-Cole, CEO of Moonchaser, says that because of the current rate of inflation, if you're asking for anything less than 10%, “you're basically taking a pay cut.”

When is the best time to ask for a raise?

David Patterson-Cole, CEO of Moonchaser, says the best time to ask for a raise is if you have an upcoming performance review.

What is the average yearly raise?

ADP found in a 2019 study that employees who accept a job at another company saw an average jump in pay of 5.3%, while employees who remained at their current company saw a 4% pay raise.

What is the typical raise percentage?

A typical raise percentage is between 3-5% to adjust for inflation, which is generally around 2%, according to the Federal Reserve. However, high inflation has driven more companies to give higher raises this year. According to Payscale’s 2022 Compensation Best Practices Report, 44% of companies plan to raise worker pay by more than 3% this year, the highest rate in six years.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

3 Comments

Hi…I am a single mom and have. Autistic child. I work for a good organization but due to my personal reasons, I want too work independent where I can look after my child and can earn more, leading independent life with financial stability..I don’t know how and where to start..can you guide me

This week I am preparing to ask for a raise. I found out that I am the lowest paid with co workers doing the same exact position as me. The people I serve love me and they always tell me I go above and beyond for them.
I am a single mom with three children. I was so disheartened to hear about my income compared with my colleagues.
Thank you for this article.

Very nice article!
currently i stuck with same situation on how should i negotiate my pay raise, i have searched for many tips on internet but finally came to this great article with best possible tips and guide to negotiate salary hike. Thanks a lot for sharing with us, will be so helpful with this!

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