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Seven habits of higher-paid people

Women shouldn't be afraid to be more proactive about closing the pay gap.

Yet another study has found a gender ''pay gap'' in Australia, this time between the starting salaries of male and female university graduates. The study, by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, showed that the median employment salary for male graduates in 2012 was $55,000 in 2012, compared with $50,000 for women.

But recruitment specialists say women - and men - who believe they're not getting equal pay for equal work shouldn't take it.

There are a number of things people can do to ensure they're fairly recompensed for their contribution, they say, starting with the most obvious - ask. Rather than being the victim of some sort of bias, it might be that other people have put their hand up and you haven't. Don't wait for a pay rise to be offered, they say, and don't just assume you'll be looked after - go in and negotiate. In the longer term, your pay prospects will be about ''moving ahead'', they say.

Here are seven steps you can take to close the pay gap.


''There's a lot to be said for asking for fair pay,'' says the chief executive of recruitment services provider Clarius Group, Kym Quick. ''My own personal experience and the experience of clients is that those who ask for it … get it.''


A common theme from recruiters and career advisers is that women typically are more reluctant than men to discuss money.

Author and blogger Karen Adamedes says this can be a confidence issue or because women focus on the ''higher purpose'' of wanting to contribute. ''But I say unless you're an industrial heiress, you probably need to work for the money, so why shouldn't you be paid what you're worth?'' she says.

Failing to negotiate is not just a missed opportunity to boost your earnings, says Adamedes, the author of Hot Tips for Career Chicks and a career strategist who blogs as Career Chick Chat. It can also have a negative impact on how you're perceived as a professional: ''It's expected that you have the conversation - you need to do it.''


Most recruitment companies conduct salary surveys and these days they're available online. ''Go into the meeting with your manager prepared to say, 'Here's what the market dictates my role is worth,''' Quick says.

The comparison shouldn't be with the guy in the corner - he might be underpaid as well - but with the rate for people in a similar role elsewhere.

Don't be afraid to ask other people what they're paid, Adamedes says.


The chief executive of specialist IT recruiter Peoplebank, Peter Acheson, says women typically undervalue themselves relative to men: ''If you look at a role on a one-for-one basis, women often underrate themselves in terms of the way they do the role, and the importance of the role.'' Men are also good at self-promotion, he says, and women need to learn this skill. They should remind the boss of their accomplishments, pointing out specific achievements rather than general strengths.


A recent study of successful women executives by the Hay Group concluded that building relationships with mentors was one of the most important things aspiring female executives could do.

The head of leadership and talent practice at Hay Group Pacific, Wendy Montague, says mentors can be someone to turn to for advice on how to secure a pay rise or might be able to speak up on your behalf.


What if you're knocked back? Don't take it personally and don't be discouraged, Adamedes says. ''Even if you get a no, the fact you've negotiated has probably enhanced your professional credibility,'' she says. ''People don't like to say no flat out, so ask, 'If not this time, when can we discuss this again?' Get some little opening.''


Montague says closing the pay gap is really about ''moving ahead''. Hay's research shows that the pay gap at the senior management level is just 4 per cent, compared with 14 per cent in the ''supervisory'' roles that rank just ahead of clerical jobs.

Yet women who have two out of three skills in an advertised position will say to themselves, ''I won't apply until I get that experience,'' while most men would say, ''I have two out of three of those, I'll apply.''

Take the risk and apply, she says.


Ultimately, you have the choice of determining your own pay, which is what Monique Jeremiah did five years ago when she quit her full-time, managerial-level job to set up her own training and re´sume´ business.

''I didn't feel I was paid enough for the effort I put in,'' Jeremiah says of her full-time role.

''The change I created in the company was very positive but I didn't think I was valued, not just in a monetary sense but in a personal sense.''

Today she runs three businesses under the Exceptional Group banner and has doubled her income.

''I believe the best way to close the gap is to go into small business and just go for it,'' she says.