MONEY Earnings

The 3 Best Ways to Boost Your Earnings This Year

hand holding dumbbell with coin at the end
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images(2)

To pump up your salary, switch up your career routine.

Welcome to Day 8 of MONEY’s 10-day Financial Fitness program. By now you’ve seen what shape you’re in, bulked up your savings, and cut the fat from your budget. Today, add some muscle to your paycheck.

When you hit a fitness plateau, taking a new class or picking up a sport can be the key to breaking through to the next level. The same concept applies to your career. Landing a new job will likely result in a salary 18% to 20% higher than what you’d get via an internal promotion, according to a study by Wharton professor Matthew Bidwell.

Thanks to a rapidly rebounding job market, this is the best year since the recession to get a new gig. More than one-third of employers expect to add full-time employees in 2015, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast, up from one in four last year. Here’s how to stand out.

1. Get the Inside Scoop

Employee referrals generate a full 40% of new hires, according to the JobVite 2014 Recruiting Survey. So rather than scouring the job boards, talk to people you know and ask about openings at their firms. Love a certain company but don’t know anyone there? Reach out to your personal network or tap your LinkedIn contacts to see if anyone can connect you to an employee.

2. Make Yourself Poachable

Employers are increasingly courting passive job seekers, says John Hollon, editor of TLNT.com, which covers HR trends: “These are employed workers who may be willing to switch jobs but aren’t actively searching.” Recruiters like these candidates because they’re successful and valued at their current jobs. Interested? Get on hiring managers’ radar by peppering your LinkedIn profile with keywords related to the type of job you want. You can also sign up with the website Poachable, and get the Poacht app. List your dream job and resume for recruiters to browse.

3. Be Bold

That said, maybe you love your job or just can’t move right now. That doesn’t mean settling for a middling raise. While the biggest bumps do go to top performers, simply asking goes a long way. A new study from Payscale found that 75% of employees who requested an increase got one, with 44% landing the exact figure they asked for. The odds of receiving your requested amount are even better if you’re already a high earner: Those with a salary of $150,000 or more had a success rate of 70%. Before you ask, get a sense of the budget. You have more influence when you show you see the boss’s side, says career coach Lee Miller.

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MONEY salary

500,000 Walmart Workers Are Getting a Raise. Here’s How You Can Get One, Too

Walmart raise minimum wage $1.75
Gunnar Rathbun—Invision for Walmart

These 5 moves can help you make sure you get what you deserve.

Two corporate giants have made headlines recently for perking up their workers’ paychecks.

Last month, health insurance provider Aetna announced it would be raising the lowest wage it pays to $16 an hour, effectively giving raises to 5,700 of the company’s workers. On Thursday, Walmart followed Aetna’s lead, revealing it would be giving 500,000 associates a salary bump of at least $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

While across-the-board wage increases such as these are unusual, other corporations are also expected to be more generous with pay this year. Among mid- and large-sized employers, the average increase in base pay is expected to be 3.0% in 2015, up from 2.9% in 2014 and 2.8% in 2013, according to HR consulting firm Mercer.

You can help your chances of boosting your pay with these five tips:

1. Ask at the Right Time

Choosing the optimal time to approach your boss about a raise will significantly increase your chances of success. Stay on top of your own industry’s salary trends and consider whether your company and division are doing well enough to afford what you’re asking for. It’s also a good idea to ask for a raise a few months before performance reviews so that salaries aren’t already set.

Read more: How to Tell if Now Is a Good Time to Ask for a Raise

2. Know What Others are Getting

Before you ask for a raise, you’re going to need to know what kind of raise is reasonable. Check sites like PayScale.com and GlassDoor.com to get an idea of the industry standard for your position, then consult your colleagues to see what the story is internally. For women, that means making sure to check with your male mentors as well. As MONEY’s Margaret Magnarelli writes, female employees tend to be underpaid relative to their male counterparts, and often remain unfairly compensated because they compare salaries with female colleagues who are also underpaid. Gathering a broad cross section of salary data can help break through the ceiling.

Read more: The Foolproof Way to Make Sure You Land a Big Raise This Year

3. Be Able to Prove You’re Better than Average

The 3% average bump that Mercer projects isn’t bad, but being better than the norm can be very lucrative. In 2014, Mercer said the highest-performing employees received a 4.8% raise—more than 2 percentage points higher than the average for that year. How do you show you’re the best of the best? Gather a portfolio of past endorsements and ask satisfied clients to write testimonials. Then do your best to quantify your accomplishments so that your boss has the hard numbers as well.

Read more: 5 Ways to Get a Big Raise Now

4. Identify Your Added Value

Think about what you do that no one else at the office can do—either where you’ve particularly excelled or what highly marketable skill you bring to the table—and then frame your ask around this added value. Jim Hopkinson of SalaryTutor.com suggests framing your requests as follows: “Not only do I have [all the standard requirements that everyone else has] + but I also possess [the following unique traits that make me worth more money].”

Read more: The Secret Formula that Will Set You Apart in a Salary Negotiation

5. Just Ask!

As Wayne Gretzky said, you miss you 100% of the shots you don’t take. According to CareerBuilder, 56% of workers have never asked for a raise, which is a shame because 44% of those who did ask got the amount they asked for, and 31% still got some kind of salary boost. It might seem daunting to ask for more money with the economy still in recovery mode, but job openings are the highest they’ve been in a decade, almost three-quarters of employers say they’re worried about losing talented workers, and raises are gradually getting larger. Being assertive can be scary, but don’t let fear stand in the way of a bigger salary.

Read more: New Study Reveals the Odds You’ll Actually Get the Raise You Ask For

More from Money.com:

How to Balance Spending and Safety in Retirement

When to File an Auto Insurance Claim—and When Not To

4 Ways to Hit Your Money Goals

TIME Careers & Workplace

Why You’re Probably Going to Get a Raise This Year

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

When companies battle for talent, workers win

Raises are back—finally. A new report says roughly 90% of companies will give raises this year, but workers are going to have to earn those fatter paychecks: More than half of companies responding to PayScales’s annual Compensation Best Practices Report say their main reason for giving raises is to reward performance; only about 20% say the increased cost of living is the main reason they give raises.

And don’t hold your breath for a windfall. The vast majority of these say raises will be 5% or less.

Still, this is an improvement. In its annual Compensation Best Practices Report, compensation research company PayScale finds that 85% of responding companies gave raises last year and 89% of companies say they’ll give raises this year. The percentage of companies doling out pay increases has crept up for the past few years, after hitting a low of roughly 30% in 2010, and was above 80% last year. In addition, three quarters of responding companies say they’ve adjusted their compensation structure within the past year.

Smaller companies are more likely to dole out raises to keep valuable workers on board — something to keep in mind if you work at one. Small firms also are more likely to have individualized salary ranges for each position.

About two thirds of respondents say they gave cost-of-living raises last year, with this practice most common in the healthcare and social assistance sector — almost three quarters of these companies gave cost-of-living raises. On the flip side, this is the sector least likely to give workers bonuses.

Companies that rely on large labor pools of lower-skilled workers may give cost-of-living pay increases because there’s not as many good ways to measure performance, and the relative competitiveness of the work often doesn’t demand it. “However, even in industries like retail and healthcare which have a lot of minimum wage positions, there are still highly competitive jobs in segments of their workforce,” like management and IT, PayScale vice president of marketing Tim Low explains.

In more competitive sectors, though, talented workers can command even more. Just over three in five companies said they’ll increase pay for jobs that are in high demand. “We see a strong trend towards pay for performance,” Low said. Professional, Scientific and Tech Services, along with Information, Media, and Telecommunications are the two categories — as defined by PayScale — in which companies are most likely to report that over 50 percent of positions are competitive.

“The trend has been emerging for a while, but it’s part of a greater connection between compensation and business outcomes,” Low says. “The current economy in many sectors gives employees more choices now than they had just a few years ago.”

Read next: Wal-Mart Is Giving Half a Million Employees a Raise

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY Economy

Why Your Paycheck May Not Grow With the Economy

500lb weight on top of money
Kiyoshi Togashi—Alamy

Though the job market is improving, workers might have to wait a while longer to see those big raises they've been waiting for.

You may have heard that the U.S. economy is back. The nation’s gross domestic product grew by 4.6% and 5% in the last two quarters—the strongest increase since 2003; Americans are more confident about the economy than at any time since the recession; and gasoline prices are as low as they’ve been in more than five years, amounting to a huge tax break for consumers and businesses.

No wonder employers felt strong enough to add 321,000 jobs to the economy in November, while the unemployment rate was at a post-recession low of 5.8%.

Still, many workers have not seen a pick-up in pay even as the employment climate has improved. In fact private sector wages declined by 5 cents (or by 0.2%) in December, despite the economy adding 252,000 jobs.

Total compensation, which includes benefits like medical insurance, rose 2.1% from the same period a year ago. That’s actually a slight uptick from the post-recession norm, but well below pre-2008 levels.

Which is weird. As demand for workers improves, and the unemployment rate declines, you’d expect inflation to rise and wages to increase.

One reason why wages have grown so slowly is that for much of the recovery there’s simply been a lack of demand for goods from consumers as many Americans worked to get out from the terrible effects of the housing crisis.

Since my spending is your income, more dollars saved and fewer spent mean less economic activity resulting in a weaker labor market. And since the Federal Reserve already dropped short-term interest rates to practically zero, and Washington lawmakers are reluctant or disinterested in further fiscal stimulus, marginal relief is coming from D.C.

Another explanation might have to do with the nature of compensation.

In a recent report, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco highlighted the notion of “sticky” wages.

The argument goes: Since businesses were unable to reduce wages as much as they wanted when the economy got really bad five years ago (short of firing people), they are now not inclined to raise salaries as the economy lifts off.

If wages are rigid against a terrible economy, they’re stagnant (at least for a while) when the tide turns. “Businesses hold back wage increases and wait for inflation and productivity growth to bring wages closer to their desired levels,” says the report authors’s Mary Daly and Bart Hobijn. “Since it takes some time to fully exhaust the pool of wage cuts, growth remains low even as the economy expands and the unemployment rate declines.”

While there’s a bit of rigidity to all wages, the authors found “industries with the most downwardly rigid wage structures before the recession have seen the slowest growth during the recovery.” This means that businesses that were able to lower pay when revenues dried up have been more likely to increase wages as the good times returned.

So people in the wholesale trade business (truck drivers to sales reps) saw wages increase relative to pre-recession levels, while those in construction have to make due on less income.

What does this mean for workers?

“The rigidity of wages in a number of sectors has shaped the dynamics of unemployment and wage growth and is likely to do so until labor markets have fully returned to normal,” per Daly and Hobijn. And with still elevated levels of the long-term unemployed, high numbers of workers in part-time positions that want full-time ones, and fewer people quitting their jobs than before the recession, we’re still in not normal labor market territory.

Investors, especially older ones with larger holdings in fixed-income, should take note, too. Without higher inflation, and especially wage growth, the Federal Reserve is likely to delay raising rates.

While recent Fed meetings minutes have been interpreted as having a more hawkish tone, rates aren’t likely to rise (or rise quickly) while workers still struggle to make up lost ground.

Updated to reflect on Jan. 9 jobs report.

MONEY Jobs

Why The Lowest Paid Workers Are Getting a Raise—And The Middle Class Isn’t

"Save the Middle Class" on a sign
Jen Grantham—iStock

Low-wage workers are making more money, but wages continue to stagnate for the middle-class. Here's why.

If you’re a working adult, you probably haven’t received much of a raise in recent years. Earnings growth has declined dramatically since 2007, and wages bounced back only 2% this year, barely keeping pace with inflation. In October, wage growth was essentially static.

But we may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, at least for some employees. Over the weekend, payroll processing firm ADP released data showing that the average hourly pay for low-wage workers — that is, those making less than $20,000 a year — increased by 5.4% in the last year, and that workers earning between $20,000 and $50,000 saw pay jump 4.9% on average.

As USA Today noted on Sunday, ADP’s methodology tends to overestimate earnings growth because it tracks only employees of businesses that can afford to contract with the company. The firm also reported that earnings for all Americans were up 4.5% in the third-quarter year-to-date; more than double the increase was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in October for 2014.

But while ADP may have overestimated earnings growth among low-wage Americans, that doesn’t mean that group isn’t getting better raises than the rest of the population. The paper also observed that data from the BLS showed the bottom 10% of earners received a 3% hike in wages for the year ending on September 30, compared to a 0.5% raise for the 90th percentile.

Why do low-wage workers seem to be getting raises when the middle-class is not? According to Eugenio Alemánm, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, the answer is employment polarization. As the St. Louis Federal Reserve explains, this phenomenon describes how the automation of many routine tasks has decreased demand for middle-skill, middle-income labor, while increasing demand for both low-skill, low-wage workers and high-skill, high-wage workers. This trend was exacerbated by the great recession, and resulted in a hollowing out of the American labor force.

Higher wages for low-skill workers simply reflects higher demand for that particular class of laborer. High-wage employees have also seen a disproportionate increase in earnings during the recession compared to the middle-class.

“One of the characteristics of the current economic recovery is that we are seeing a lot of jobs in the very, very low levels of income, very low paying jobs, and very strong movement in the high paying jobs,” said Alemánm. “Those are the two sectors that seeing some upwards pressure on wages and this data is a confirmation of that.”

“Middle income jobs are not being offered in this economic recovery, so there is no pressure on those salaries,” added Alemánm. “The type of jobs that are being offered today”—which he says mainly exist in the leisure, hospitality, and retail industries—”are not conducive to having middle-income earners.”

Will the middle-class ever see some relief? Alemánm says yes, recent job growth is likely to exert upward pressure on wages across the board — but it’s hard to tell when that will happen for the majority for workers. “At some point, it has to change,” he predicts. “You’ll see some spillovoer into middle-income wage earners. That is the third leg we are waiting for.”

MONEY Jobs

Don’t Count on Raises Despite Friday’s Jobs Report

Person popping balloon
Getty Images—Getty Images

Despite more Americans finding employment, workers shouldn't expect any big changes in their paychecks just yet.

Workers can be forgiven if they don’t rejoice in Friday’s jobs report.

Employers added 214,000 jobs in October, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.8%. This is another sign the U.S. economy is starting to get on a roll.

Businesses have added an average of around 230,000 jobs a month since January, when the unemployment started off at 6.6%. Stocks have been hitting all-time highs. And the Federal Reserve just announced that it was ending the third round of its stimulative bond-buying program thanks in part to the fact that the labor market has been improving.

Despite these positive trends, though, there still remains significant slack in the labor market. Millions of discouraged workers who want a job have given up looking — or are working part-time when they prefer full-time employment.

Moreover, the long-term unemployed are still much less likely to find a job now compared to before the 2007-2009 recession, and employees still don’t feel confident enough about their situation to quit their job in search of a high paying one. Meanwhile the unemployment rate lags the pre-recession low by more than a percentage point.

This might help to explain why Americans are still so pessimistic about their personal finances.

Almost three in four Americans think the economy was permanently damaged by the Great Recession, according to research by Rutgers University, which is actually more pessimistic than right after the recession. Moreover, only 37% say their finances are good or excellent shape, per recent Pew Research Center data.

Workers also understand that whatever raises they do get probably won’t outpace inflation. Take the Employment Cost Index, which measures workers salaries and benefits. Before the recession, the ECI rose at a year-over-year rate of more than 3% for about two years. Since 2009, though, the ECI hasn’t jumped above 2.2% (which, to be fair, was last quarter.)

fredgraph

And while the Fed did decide to end its bond-buying — otherwise known as quantitative easing — short-term interest rates remain essentially at zero, with expectations of a small hike potentially put off until well into 2015. By keeping rates so low for so long, the Fed is essentially signaling that consumer demand just isn’t there. Yet consumer demand is an essential ingredient in the recipe for gaining raises.

“We didn’t hear anything that causes us to reconsider our outlook that the Fed will follow a ‘lower for longer’ course when it comes to interest rates,” wrote USAA’s John Toohey in a recent note. “The U.S. recovery from the 2008–09 financial crisis has been slow and at times fragile, so our thinking is that the Fed will not want to risk a setback by raising rates too quickly. What is ending now is the third round of QE since late 2008; after the first two wrapped up, economic gains soon stalled. The Fed has not forgotten this.”

This jobs report seems to be another brick in the slow rebuild of the U.S. economy following the disaster of six years ago. It is encouraging that the Fed feels the economy is strong enough to chug along without it pumping billions of dollars into the financial system each month.

But workers should remember how big a hole we’ve needed to climb out of. Millions are still struggling to get by, or even get a job. And without strong bargaining power, or full employment, workers shouldn’t expect a raise anytime soon.

MONEY pay gap

3 Ways Women Can Make Sure They Get the Raises They Deserve

hand helping hand
DAJ—Getty Images/amana images

Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine weighs in on the controversial comments made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week. Her take: They underscore the need for women to find sponsors and sponsor others.

I imagine that the savvy, self-starting executive women of Microsoft felt particularly deflated by CEO Satya Nadella’s recent remarks (later withdrawn) that women shouldn’t negotiate for more money. Here they are most likely doing all the prescribed “right” things:

  1. Entering a high-growth industry, such as tech
  2. Working for a brand-name firm, like Microsoft
  3. Proactively working on their negotiating skills

…and then BAM! Here comes Nadella essentially saying that they should just wait for the system to even out the gender pay gap. If the CEO isn’t going to support your efforts, why even bother?

Actually this is precisely why you should bother with all of the proactive hard work. Your effort and skills belong to you, and you can take them somewhere else if you should hit a brick wall.

Sure, Satya Nadella’s unfortunate admission shows that a CEO of a major corporation may thwart your efforts just as a mid-level manager or even a narrow-minded friend (in the guise of well-meaning advice) might. You may not get the support you expect. But if you keep doing the prescribed “right” things below, you will collect some supporters to your cause along the way—including more open-minded, equitable executive sponsors.

Create an amazing body of work

It still starts with getting results, establishing your expertise, and contributing to the bottom line. Don’t let your own work product suffer because there is someone at the top of your company who doesn’t care—others do care and are watching for promotion-worthy candidates. You want your name to surface.

But you cannot simply let your accomplishments stand for themselves. You need to advocate for your them, to ensure they are recognized. See my previous post on preparing for your next review for step-by-step instructions on making sure you get your due.

Build a strategic and supportive network

So Nadella is out of step, and there are probably other CEO’s who share his view. But there will be men and women—at every level, in every industry, in every functional area—who are supportive.

I once had a banker at a big-name firm encourage me to “follow my heart” and take an unexpected career turn, even if it meant turning down his firm’s offer. He was so supportive and generous and gave me courage when I needed it most—and this was a BANKER! If I managed to find a mentor with a heart of gold in that industry, there will certainly be supportive senior people in any industry.

Find them. Enroll their support.

Be a strategic and supportive of others

Be the anti-Nadella. Don’t just throw your hands up at the amorphous system; proactively help others along and do your part to change the game.

Pick the smart but shy person in your group and plan to call on that person in the meeting; let the person know what you will ask so they have a chance to prepare. Think of that colleague from another department who always helps you and write a commendation to her (or his) manager, cc’ing the person you’re writing about. Return to your alma mater for a networking event or career talk.

As you build your amazing career and advocate for yourself, reach back and better the system for others.

 

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart®career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column appears weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

MONEY Careers

This Guy Emailed His Boss for a Raise — And Cc’d the Entire Company

Hand waiting for money
Image Source—Getty Images

A Wells Fargo worker asked his boss for a company-wide raise of $3 billion, and he CC'd about 200,000 people. But his manager says he won't be fired.

In what might be the ultimate power negotiating tactic, a Wells Fargo employee asked his boss for a raise over email and intentionally copied the entire company.

As the Charlotte Observer reports, Tyrel Oates, age 30, wrote Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf asking him to give each of the company’s approximate 263,500 workers a raise of $10,000. According to the Observer, roughly 200,000 of those employees were copied on the exchange.

Why did Oates demand such a hefty pay bump? He wants to reduce the nation’s income inequality.

In the full letter, which appears to have been posted on Reddit, Oates writes: “Wells Fargo has an opportunity to be at the forefront of helping to reduce [income inequality] by setting the bar, leading by example, and showing the other large corporations that it is very possible to maintain a profitable company that not only looks out for its consumers and shareholders, but its employees as well.”

After noting that Stumpf made $19 million dollars last year, Oates proposes his solution: “My estimate is that Wells Fargo has roughly around 300,000 employees. My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars. This equates to an hourly raise about $4.71 per hour.”

“By doing this, Wells Fargo will not only help to make its people, its family, more happy, productive, and financially stable, it will also show the rest of the United States, if not the world that, yes big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.”

Oates told the Observer he currently makes $15 an hour processing requests from Well Fargo customers wanting advice on how to stop debt-collection calls. Despite working at the company for seven years, his hourly wage has increased by only $2 since the day he started.

The letter concludes with a plea for fellow employees to organize and stand up for themselves. “While the voice of one person in a world as large as ours may seem only like a whisper,” it reads, “the combined voices of each and all of us can move mountains!”

Luckily for Oates, while the CEO hasn’t (yet) responded to the letter, his employment doesn’t appear to be in danger. Oates’ manager has said he won’t be disciplined. “I’m not worried about losing my job over this,” Oates told the paper.

When contacted by the Huffington Post for comment, Wells Fargo would not address the letter’s text (which the Post confirms is authentic), but issued the following statement: “We provide market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities for team members. Team members receive an annual performance and salary review. And all of our team members’ compensation levels significantly exceed federal minimums.”

MONEY pay gap

Why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella STILL Has It Wrong on Raises for Women

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella
Manish Swarup—AP

The exec has taken back his comments that we should count on karma to boost our salary, but that doesn't mean he gets what it means to be a female at work today.

Easy for a dude to say that women should have “faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Especially a dude who makes $7.6 million and sits at the top of one of America’s largest companies.

But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who made that comment in answer to a question about how women should ask for a salary increase—in front of a room full of women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on Thursday—at least seems to have realized the error of his statement.

On his blog last night, he acknowledged:

I answered that question completely wrong. Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s [Maria Klawe, computer scientist and moderator] advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.

Great that he owned the mistake. But what’s worse, the fact that he didn’t realize that women are paid 22 cents less on the dollar than our male peers—or the fact that he still doesn’t realize it’s not as simple as “just asking” for us?

Yes, We Pay a Penalty for Not Asking

Assuming you care remotely about women’s issues, you’ve seen the research showing that few women negotiate salaries. (By the by, it goes all the way up the ladder. Nadella’s fellow C-suiter GM’s Mary Barra noted at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit that she had never in her career asked for a raise. The emcee then polled the audience on how many of them also had never asked, and “the majority of the conference’s high-powered female attendees raised their hands,” according to Fortune‘s Broadsheet.)

Our reticence has a compounding effect over our careers. By not asking right off the bat, Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock has said, we leave lost earnings “anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million” on the table.

But We Pay a Penalty for Asking, Too

Yet Babcock’s research found that we may be on to something with our sense of caution. Simply stating the case for why we deserve a raise doesn’t tend to get women to the same result as it does men. In fact, it can actually hamper our career progress.

For a study published in 2005, Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, asked participants to watch videos of men and women asking for a raise. The guys and gals in the video used the exact same scripts.

The result? Participants liked the men and agreed to give them the bump in pay, but found the women too aggressive. While they gave her the raise, they did not like her. In particular, male study participants were less willing to want to work with the female negotiator.

We know that being well liked—a quality we women struggle with starting from the first grade-school birthday party we’re not invited to—is also key to getting ahead. So we’re caught between a high heel and a hard place.

Or, as Joan Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law, put it in The Huffington Post,

If women act too feminine and don’t ask, they end up with lower salaries. If they act too masculine and ask, then people don’t want to work with them. Women walk a tightrope between being too feminine and too masculine. Men don’t, which is one reason why office politics are trickier for women than for men.

So We Have to Give an Oscar-Winning Performance to Get What We Want

The research Babcock and Riley Bowles have done has found that women have to be more, well, “womanly” in their approach in order to get the raises and promotions that they deserve and come out the other side smelling like a rose.

You know—positive, solicitous, and putting others first. Less shark, more 1950s housewife.

Acknowledging herself that these findings are “depressing,” Babcock (along with Riley Bowles) concluded that being collaborative—trying to take the perspective of the company and hiring manager and using “we” statements instead of “I”—tends to be more effective than other approaches. They’ve also emphasized trying to be “authentic” by using language that feels comfortable.

That doesn’t feel the same as “just ask”—it requires us to act a part when what we simply want is for our managers to respect us as workers and people in a gender-neutral way.

We want to be able to walk in and say, “I brought in $2 million in business this year and am underpaid relative to my position,” and be better paid and just as well liked at the end of it.

You know, like a dude.

Related:
5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves
When She Makes More: How to Level the Financial Playing Field

MONEY Jobs

If Jobs Are Back, Where’s My Raise?

Empty pockets of businessman
Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images Dude, where's my raise?

Despite good jobs numbers, wages aren't growing much. The reason why is the biggest debate in economics right now

Today’s strong jobless claims data, which show that applications for unemployment benefits dropped again, is one reason to be cheerful heading into the Labor Day weekend.

Yet despite this, and the fact that the unemployment rate is now down to 6.2%, the economy still has this glaring weak spot: Workers aren’t getting serious raises.

Here’s how two important measures of wage growth have done since the recession. (The Brookings Institution keeps a running tab of these and other key economic indicators in the excellent interactive graphic here.)

fredgraph

Basically, what you are seeing is that pay to workers, whether measured as hourly wages or salaries plus benefits, has been running neck-and-neck with inflation of a bit under 2%. As Fed chair Janet Yellen pointed out in her recent speech at a Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., wages are also growing less than workers’ productivity.

Why is this happening? Yellen, for one, likely thinks there’s some remaining “slack” in the economy. Employers are still wary about whether there’s growing demand for their stuff, and so they remain slow to hire. The low unemployment figures leave out a large number of workers who have become discouraged after a long time out of work. But if the slack explanation is right, as companies continue to hire, more of those labor-force dropouts will be drawn back into the employment pool. You won’t see companies under serious pressure to raise wages until that process has played out and companies start competing for a scarcer pool of job-seekers.

Yellen points to (though doesn’t endorse) another possible explanation. Many economists believe wages are downwardly “sticky”—even when companies want to cut costs, they’d rather lay people off than reduce the pay of the people they hang onto. That means that for people who kept working after the recession, wages were higher than they’d otherwise be. And now that the economy is (fitfully) coming back, maybe that means there’s also less room for wages to rise.

Another factor, of course, is that both corporate managers and workers are human, and people can take some time to adjust to new economic signals. Back in July, I sat down with a stock fund manager, who talked about what he was seeing going on at the companies he kept in touch with. More than five years after the financial crisis, he said, the corporate culture among top managers had changed. The people in the C-suite got their positions not by expanding their companies and finding great new hires, but by cutting costs. And they got used to a slack labor market. The manager used the specific example of truckers: You always know you can get a guy to drive a truck from your warehouse to your customer on a moment’s notice. So why worry about hiring more truckers?

As it happens, at the New York Times Upshot blog earlier this month, Neil Irwin wrote that this may be changing. A trucking company called Swift told investors it was having hard time finding enough drivers. The company says the problem is that there aren’t enough skilled people, but Irwin wonders if the problem is really that companies just aren’t paying enough. Trucker pay has fallen, in real terms, over the past decade. Irwin writes:

The most basic of economic theories would suggest that when supply isn’t enough to meet demand, it’s because the price—in this case, truckers’ wages—is too low. Raise wages, and an ample supply of workers should follow…. But corporate America has become so parsimonious about paying workers outside the executive suite that meaningful wage increases may seem an unacceptable affront.

The question now is, how strong does the economy have to get before employers are forced to change their thinking?

Related:
If You’re Looking for Work, the Outlook is Brightening
Why the Fed Won’t Care About Higher Prices Until You Get a Real Raise
What’s the Deal With America’s Declining Workforce?

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