Negotiating a pay rise can be one of the most daunting challenges we face at work, as many people feel uncomfortable or intimidated when talking about money. They may worry about looking foolish, jeopardising their relationship with their employer or even putting their position at risk. However, salary discussions are a normal aspect of any career, and a lot of the uneasiness simply comes from a lack of confidence and information.
If you’re aiming for a pay rise but aren’t sure how to approach the conversation, the first thing you should do is arrange a private one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss it. Once you have a time set aside, these tips on how to negotiate a pay rise will help you feel more self-assured and prepared to tackle the meeting.
Be Prepared and Well Informed
Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge and information we have, the more solid our argument or case will be. This is especially true when negotiating a pay rise. Before going into a pay negotiation, it’s important to be armed with enough information to confidently state your case – in other words, do your salary research and find out how much you are actually worth in the market:
- Find out how much your role is paid internally, as well as externally (in your location)
- Look for comparable jobs advertised on job boards and find out what the salary ranges are
- Find a salary guide for your industry. We have one here
- Have a read through your company’s policies on pay rises
- Seek the advice of trusted friends, mentors or colleagues
- Get input from a specialist recruiter in your market
Keep in mind that timing plays a big part in pay negotiations, and employers may react according to factors that might be out of your control. Before heading into the meeting, have a think (or speak to a trusted colleague) about the “vibe” in the team around pay rises – have others recently requested a raise and how were they received? Remember that outside factors such as the financial state of the company may be stalling pay rises across the office, so if business is slow, it may not be a good time to ask. Finally, keep in mind when you last had a pay rise and whether you can reasonably justify another. Again, the more information and “evidence” you can present, the higher your chances of successfully negotiating the pay rise you want.
Build a Business Case
It’s important to remember that an employer is essentially paying for your service, skills and expertise, so think of a pay rise meeting as a “sales pitch” where the aim is to “sell yourself” and justify why exactly the employer should invest more in you. Your sales pitch (or business case) should contain enough valuable information to convince your manager and, if necessary, for your manager to then be able to present your case to a third party such as the finance team, board or CEO. When asking for a pay rise, ensure you can attest to the following:
- Your strengths and achievements and how they relate to success in your current role
- Your contributions to the company within the last six months
- The knowledge and experience that you bring to the role and the wider business
It’s best to request a pay rise after a period of consistently good performance such as hitting targets, out-performing colleagues or going above and beyond your standard responsibilities. Ask yourself the serious question – would I give myself a pay rise? Is my work at a high enough standard to justify it? If the answer is yes, go in with confidence and pride.
Consider the Whole Package
It’s sometimes easy to get fixated on the number that appears on the payslip and overlook the rest of the pay package. Remember that negotiating a pay rise is not just about the money – it’s important to look at the total package on offer. Sometimes there are extra benefits that come with your pay that, when added up, become quite an attractive offer overall.
While it may not always be financially viable for employers to offer a pay rise, there could be other ways they can reward your hard work. This could be through bonuses, the benefit of a company car or car park, discounted gym membership or extra training/upskilling opportunities. It’s important to look at the bigger picture and be reasonable in your expectations. You may find that you’d be satisfied and productive on the same salary, with extra benefits that come along the way.
Regardless of how uncomfortable you feel, always remember to be confident and back for yourself and your skills when going into a pay rise meeting. On a final note, don’t forget to look at the situation from your employers’ point of view. Be courteous and respectful of their position, and if the time is not right for a pay rise, rest assured that there are plenty of other options available for you to take your career to the next level.
For any further advice on how to ask for a pay rise or support with your next job search, contact the team at SustainAbility.