How to negotiate better pay

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Fifteen years ago, Catherine Arvizu, a single mother of two, admits her salary ranked below the federal poverty line.

“I found myself in a bind,” she said. “I was making $23,000 a year, and found myself alone and having to start over.”

Years of hard work later, she’s a vice president business banker at National Bank of Arizona with advice to give.

“No. 1, you need to have a plan; No. 2, just know what change is and know it will happen along the way; No. 3, you need to persevere," she said. "May I add a 4th one? Don’t be afraid to ask.”

But experts will tell you, the art of negotiation is a practiced skill.

“It’s all in your approach. It's all in your professional mannerism,” said Dana Campbell Saylor, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix which gives regular financial education classes.

The YWCA will also host a special “Equal Pay” event next Tuesday with Evelyn Murphy, president of the WAGE Project, Inc.

“First of all, it’s confidence that you have the skills for the job,” Campbell Saylor said.

However, it's equally important to carefully research what your position should pay so you don’t underestimate your value.

“You know your worth,” Campbell Saylor said. “You’ve done enough research that you know what they pay in your industry.”

There are special websites, such as, that help you calculate just that based on experience level, education, geographical location, etc.

Toni Vallee and Jean Johnson, who teach seminars for the YWCA, say once you’ve done your research, the experts advise to carefully practice your pitch, be positive, don’t be confrontational, and don’t make the negotiation personal.

Vallee and Johnson remind women that “you’re your best advocate.” Remind your boss what you’ve done, find out the cycles of employee reviews, and make a compelling case for more money.

However, they advise never asking for a “raise meeting" outright. Instead, tell your boss you would like to “discuss aspects of my career development.”

Don’t be discouraged if you’re initially turned down. Arvizu says her road to success was paved with plenty of obstacles.

“You have to believe in yourself. How are you going to have someone believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?” she asked.

Her parting words of advice?

“Aim high, dream big," she said.