Show me the money!” Did you just hear Tom Cruise’s voice from the famous scene in Jerry McGuire? Or more importantly, did you smile and think of how you want to tell your boss the same thing? Well guess what… you aren’t alone. According to a Gallup poll, 55% of women say they’re underpaid. So quite simply, if you and your bestie are both reading this article, one of you is likely leaving money on the table. Yikes! 

It’s impossible to see stats like that and not immediately point the finger at the patriarchal systems that allow things like the pay gap between men and women to remain at nearly twenty percent — more for women of color, biases which play out in both hiring and promoting, lack of representation at higher levels of leadership within organizations and so many other issues. It’s important to acknowledge challenges where they exist, but also essential to forward progress that we (women) take personal responsibility for the ways in which we hold ourselves back. As long as we focus on the obstacles and blame circumstances outside of our control rather than looking within for how to create change, we give the power we do have away. 

It’s a hard truth, but we have to keep it real. So the question becomes, despite the potential roadblocks, what mistakes are we making and how can we level up and get the pay raises we deserve? If you’re still with me — keep reading. The following are the top areas of opportunity to take action on and improve.

Not doing your research.

If I were to ask you how your salary compares to the market for your skillset, could you tell me? Or what about, where your salary ranks in terms of your company’s salary band. Are you on the high or low end? If you can’t answer both of those questions confidently, you’re going into a compensation conversation unprepared. Recommendation: Review salary information for your position online. There are many websites that provide free salary guides or calculators. My preferred site is here as they partner with the US Department of Labor and Statistics for a national view and also have important local data by city. 

Not making a business case.

We often go into these meetings feeling frustrated and even resentful because our compensation has not matched our workload for some time. This can lead to emotional pleas, aggressive language or outright hostility. None of which will help you get what you want. Recommendation: Remain calm and level headed. If you are extremely frustrated, vent to a friend beforehand and get the emotion out so that you can present facts and figures tactfully to your boss. Come to the meeting with a list of your responsibilities from when you started in your role or since the last review, versus what you are doing now. In addition, be prepared to communicate exactly how your work is driving revenue and impacting the bottom line. The more clearly you can show how your contributions are moving the company forward, the better chance of you getting what you want.

Not being specific.

When we do ask for a raise, we aren’t always saying how much of an increase we would like. Research suggests that on average companies give a raise of about three percent to employees annually for inflation and up to six percent for above average performers. If you want more, you have to ask for it. Recommendation: Go to the meeting with a specific salary range in mind. Have both a floor (number that you’d feel satisfied with) and a ceiling (a number that is a bit of a stretch). This often falls within the 15-20% increase range but that can be based on a number of things; where your current compensation is, when the last review was, are you in a high demand industry or have your responsibilities grown massively. Also remember, your business plan for why you deserve a raise should go hand in hand with a specific dollar amount or percentage.

Hopefully, these recommendations have you securing the bag this year and telling your boss (probably in your head) “show me the money!”

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