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Taking the Emotion Out of Asking to Be Paid Your Worth

Taking the Emotion Out of Asking to Be Paid Your Worth

There are so many emotions tied up with money - guilt, shame, self-worth, competitiveness, fear - that it's no wonder it can be so tough to ask to be compensated at the right level. It can be hard to feel sure we even know what the right level is.

To go into this conversation with more confidence, build a business case for yourself. Think about the value you provide relative to others, whether it's to a corporation or an individual client. Here are four key steps to follow.

Do your due diligence.

Research others in similar roles at similar companies to understand what and how they are paid. Do the same with others providing similar services. Understand how you're positioned compared to them to know if you should match them, go higher, or go lower.

There are also great websites that provide insight into pay and cultures of companies, such as Glassdoor and Fairygodboss. If you have contacts in recruiting, HR, or executive search, don't be shy about asking them for guidance. If you don't want to talk specific numbers, you can always talk in ranges.

[Related: The Things Most of Us Forget When Making a Career Change]

Add up the benefits you have delivered.

What is the value proposition you provide to your company or client? What do they gain from having you? What will they lose if you walk away? Put these into numbers; tangible things like sales, new clients, greater market penetration, an increase in web traffic, greater conversion, and improved margins are all fantastic metrics to use. Aligning them with your company's and department's core missions - and even what your boss is measured on - is the most effective way to articulate your value.

[Related: Women & Wealth: Creating Your Financial Roadmap]

Understand the costs you save.

This is the other side of your value proposition. What does the client or company gain by using you instead of hiring a different service? Have you helped reduce the cost of turnover, operations, marketing, or some other area? This can add up to big numbers. If you can't get to a specific number, think about percentage of total or percentage of budget as different ways to frame the impact.

[Related: Women and Money: Are You in Control of Your Finances?]

Think about the additional benefits you want.

If you're in a conversation about pay, you're in a conversation about compensation - so be sure to consider all the elements here. There are intangibles that may be really important to you, such as different working arrangements or payment for professional development, that you can ask for now, too. Those can be easier for someone to say "yes" to right away, and can help buffer any negotiation you may get into.

These steps will help you feel more confident about what you are asking for and why it is justified. You are doing great work - go get the money you deserve!

[Related: Want To Make More Money? Start Rewriting Your Story]


Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Michelle Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women's groups, and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.

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