Want to Ask for a Raise? Here Are 10 Tips to Prep

From Hollywood to the soccer field to Washington, D.C., the gender pay gap is a hot topic — and a timely one.

Equal Pay Day, which falls on April 12 this year, symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what their male counterparts earned in the previous year. That's right: Women in the U.S. make an average of 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. And for non-white women, the gap is even wider. Infuriating? Yes. Unfair? Absolutely. It's time to do something about it.

Maybe you heard about it via actress Jennifer Lawrence's frankly penned inquiry: "Why do I make less than my male costars?" or a widely publicized lawsuit accusing U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in the U.S., of wage discrimination. Or, kudos — maybe you are following the issue even when it isn't a trending topic.

Regardless of your field, know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for what you deserve. Sure, asking for more can seem daunting, whether you're male, female, millennial or mid-career. But here are some tips to make a strong case for a raise.

1. Find a mentor.
Having the ear of someone with more experience than you or someone who has navigated similar situations can be incredibly helpful. Find someone to act as your mentor and connect with them weekly or monthly for a coffee and chat. If you can't find anyone nearby, sites such as Glassbreakers.co and Levo.com have resources that can help find one for you.

2. Expand your skills. 

Make sure that you are on top of your game and arm yourself with as many skills as you can. There are tons of resources out there; you just have to know where to look. There's an amazing event called Creative Mornings in an array of cities that provide FREE inspirational talks during breakfast time, or you could find a local Meetup in a subject area that applies to you.

3. Do your research. 

Find out what others in similar positions and levels are making in your field. Sites such as Glassdoor.com provide free salary comparison based on job title, skills, experience and education, so you can see where you weigh in on the scale. Going into a raise conversation with an idea of how much you should be making will give you the upper hand.

4. Collect information. 

Why do you deserve a raise? Your manager may need to see the evidence, so do the legwork and collect the proof. Whether you've just started your new position or have been there for a few years, make a list of all the achievements you have made. What have you contributed to the company? Have you had positive results from a project you worked on? Do you have any glowing testimonials from other higher-ups? The easier you make the process on your boss, the better your chances for positive results.

5. Be mindful of timing. 

There are good times and bad times to discuss sensitive topics, and while it can be difficult to gauge how a manger is feeling or going through, try to feel it out. Has he or she been up against a lot of deadlines? Is their plate maxed out? These are cues that your timing might be off. And if timing is bad, you're more likely to get a no — as well as some annoyance.

6. Ask for a raise after a big win. 

If you're taking on new responsibilities or have recently made major contributions to the company, now is the time to ask for that raise. If you've created a bunch of value, it's completely fair to ask your boss, “Can we share that value?" Of course, remain mindful of #5.

7. Practice with someone you trust. 

Have a friend or loved one sit with you and listen while you rehearse how you'll ask for a raise  Ask for feedback. Look for holes in your argument and lack of clarity. Practice rebuttals, faux scenarios and questions that you think your boss may ask and start working through them.

8. Consider your boss' POV. 

Try to think like he or she does; get inside that person's mind. Does your manager have any reason to say no to a raise? What are his or her concerns? What kind of questions will come up? Once you've prepped your responses, figure out ways to keep them captivated and engaged in the conversation.

9. Confidence is key. 

You're assessing your worth, so put your best face forward and go get what you deserve! Be direct, succinct and calm. State facts in an assertive, yet non-aggressive, manner. Play the game like you've already won.

10. Look to the future.  

Getting the raise should not be your endgame. Getting a raise should be a step on the way to moving onward and upward. Pitch your raise as a way to help take tasks off your boss' plate by moving into a new role and/or taking on new responsibilities.

Now, get out there and go get what you deserve.