6 Steps to Better Pay

dw_resolveErica Sandberg is a columnist for CreditCards.com, and the author of "Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families."

Confession: Like many women, I’m not skilled at negotiating proper compensation. This is ironic, given that I'm a personal finance adviser. However, I've taught myself to command a fair fee. Here's how:

Know the marketplace. It's critical to find out what others in your position earn. Ask around and use salaryfinder.com salary.com. Once you have a range, focus on the high end. Never low-ball yourself, because climbing up from the bottom rung is tough.

Know your worth. When asking for a raise or stating your fee, lay out your relevant experience and achievements. People pay you because you're good, not because they like you.

Channel a bigwig. I'm friendly with a successful Wall Streeter, whose chutzpah is legendary. When quoting my rates, I adopt his persona. Try it: Identify someone whose confidence is off the charts and imitate his or her attitude. This classic ‘fake it till you make it’ technique works.

Request the range. A large corporation recently asked me for my day rate, which I nearly revealed. Instead I asked what their norm was—and it was three times what I typically charge. Lesson: When an employer asks what you expect to be paid, politely but firmly say it depends on many factors, and ask for their range.

Rehearse. Pretend a potential employer is on the phone. State your ideal salary or fee out loud. Repeat that figure until it feels natural—and you get that question mark out of your voice.

Dwell on what you deserve. Good-for-the-world professions are rife with underpaid women. If you look at the top, though, the directors are usually well-compensated. You should be too. Quality employees come at a cost and they know it. Negotiate with that in mind.