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Get the salary you deserve

In 2015, Jennifer Lawrence famously wrote an essay about how she was paid less than her male counterparts in the film American Hustle. Jennifer discovered through leaked correspondence that she and her female co-star Amy Adams were offered a 7% cut of the film’s profits, while the male actors in the film (Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner) received 9%. In her article she lamented how she could have better handled her salary negotiations.

It’s not just Hollywood stars who are facing this kind of unfairness, it happens to everyday women too. The gender pay gap is very real. In Australia, the average full-time gender pay gap when assessed at a base salary level is 19%. This number increases to 23.9% when the full remuneration that is paid to employees is taken into account (source: www.wgea.gov.au).

Women make up almost half the workforce in Australia. They are the main breadwinner in many families. So why are they still earning less than men? Reasons include obvious workplace bias and bearing disproportionate responsibility for child rearing.

But another big factor is undeniably the difference in women’s confidence when it comes to salary negotiation. It is common for a man to oversell himself in an interview, while a woman will generally be far less likely to advocate for herself and hence negotiate her salary. This means she will typically end up earning significantly less than her male counterparts over her career and wind up with a lower superannuation balance at retirement.

Jennifer confessed that her desire to be liked, and to be seen as low maintenance, was a huge factor in why she didn’t negotiate harder. And it’s something she regrets.

So keep this in mind when you next have a pay review or enter negotiations for a new job. Go in there thinking like a man and follow these tips. And remember, you don’t get if you don’t ask.

1. Do your research. Search online for the median salary of your position so that you know the general pay range for the job. www.payscale.com is a good place to start. This site will provide you with a personal salary report based on your title, industry, level of education, experience and location. You can delve down into the detail to compare pay across product activity, employer type and size, by city, state and more.

2. Heighten your expectations. Ask for $10,000 more than you normally would – what have you got to lose? This will give you more bargaining room in the negotiations.

3. Do not forget to negotiate perks. Some employers are open to flexible working arrangements such as flexi time, job-sharing and working from home. If these are things you want, it’s best to ask for them upfront and get the agreement in writing. You can also negotiate your title as well as education expenses.

4. Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer. Not every opportunity is the right opportunity anyway. If a company is not willing to pay you appropriately, you have a right to say no and walk away. And anyhow, you don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value its workers. A better offer will come along.

5. Go in to the negotiation prepared. If you are looking for a pay rise in your current job, state the reasons you are deserving of a raise. To do this, keep a record of your accomplishments since your last performance review. Show how you’ve taken ownership of projects and demonstrate your successes. Back it all up with numbers; at the end of the day your boss is going to be most interested in their return on investment. And remember, don’t just look backwards, talk about the future too. Take the lead and set goals, let them know how you plan to step things up a notch in the coming year. Your enthusiasm won’t go unnoticed.


Image credit: Dreamstime