How To Negotiate A Pay Rise

Asking for a pay rise at work is one of those conversations no one relishes, but career experts will tell you it is possible to get what you want, especially if you know how to ask for it in a reasonable and professional manner. The key, they argue, is to ensure the experience remains productive for both sides – here’s how they recommend you handle it…
EX / ISTOCK

Ask for a meeting

Start negotiations by requesting some time with your manager to discuss your performance, advises Michael Cheary from recruitment site Reed. “Try to allow yourself some time for this so you’re well prepared. Although it can sometimes be intimidating, always remember that a meeting is a two-way communication and whatever happens, you can argue your case, and answer any of their misgivings.”

Ultimately, however, your relationship with your manager will be what dictates how best to organise this meeting. “You might prefer to give them the subject in advance,” suggest the experts from recruitment giant Michael Page. “This can be particularly helpful if you want to seek their advice on how to prepare for the meeting. Or maybe you'd rather send a generic, agenda-free request and do all your talking on the day.”

Get your timing right

Remember, not everyone is entitled to a pay rise just because they want one – the timing has to be justified. “Before you approach the subject, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions,” suggests Michael. “When was your last pay increase? If it was within the last year, why do you warrant another one so soon? Has your performance justified asking for more money? For instance, have you been consistently hitting your targets? Do you outperform your colleagues?”

According to the experts, the best time to negotiate a rise is after a period of consistent performance, as it’ll make you the obvious for a raise. “We're not suggesting you abandon your request entirely, but when it comes to negotiating a pay rise, you want the deck to be stacked in your favour,” agrees the Michael Page team. “Wait until their schedule is comparatively empty – ideally at a time when there are no major business headaches to distract from your meeting.”

Do your homework

Ahead of any potential meeting, it pays to ensure you’re prepared to justify your worth. “Consider some of your recent achievements, the knowledge and experience you bring to your role and why now is a suitable time for a pay rise,” says Michael. “You should also research the average salaries in your industry for the role that you do. One of the quickest ways to do this is simply by finding job adverts for similar positions and seeing what they’re offering.” 

“The average person thinks nothing of spending hours getting ready for an interview, yet far fewer do the same when negotiating pay at their current employer,” the Michael Page team points out. “Practice running through the core message of your pay rise sales pitch. You should be able to present your business case in no more than a couple of minutes and prepare answers to likely follow-up questions, such as: what pay rise are you looking for? How did you arrive at that figure? What more could you do to earn it?”

Get ready to sell yourself

You’ll need to be able to explain why your employer should invest more of their budget in you, so be prepared to sell yourself. “Play to your strengths, and make a note of your successes,” explains Michael. “Demonstrate your contribution to the company for the last and next six months, whether it’s through generating revenue, applying your expertise or showing your dedication. Always remember that your boss may not be the final decision maker, so writing your case down in a clear and concise manner will help them to communicate your request to the relevant parties.” Because pay rises are a business decision, you’ll need to be able to prove what you can provide in return. “Offering to increase your responsibilities, promising a greater output and taking on other daily duties are all good ways to prove that your pay rise is good value for money for your employer,” Michael adds.

“You should also take the time to highlight the key skills you possess that are in short supply, or otherwise entirely missing in your organisation,” add the Michael Page experts. “The more you can prove that you are indispensable to the business, the more likely you are to land that pay rise.”

You’ll need to be able to explain why your employer should invest more of their budget in you, so be prepared to sell yourself.

Have a range in mind

When it comes to discussing numbers, the experts will tell you it’s better to have a salary range in mind rather than a single figure. “When pressed for your salary requirements, you should always be sure to offer a range based on what others in the field are earning, rather than a single fixed number,” explains the team at GlassDoor. “Having an acceptable salary range helps you to negotiate and find compromise more easily. Also, if you need time to evaluate an offer, say so. Schedule your next meeting 24-48 hours later and come back with your counteroffer.”

Don’t just think about the money

Sometimes, there are genuine reasons why you might not get a pay rise, and right now, lack of available funds is one of the most obvious. But, if you can afford it, the chat needn’t all be about money. “Just because your boss has said ‘no’ to a pay rise doesn’t mean you can’t enquire about non-financial benefits as an alternative,” advises Michael. “For instance, you could ask for more paid time off or flexible working hours, or another benefit, such as subsidised travel costs or gym membership. You may find further success by exploring the possibility of funding towards training and development as, with your new-found knowledge, you’ll become a more valuable asset to your employer.”

Finally, don’t burn your bridges

If you haven’t been able to successfully negotiate the pay rise you wanted, you might start to feel seriously undervalued by your employer. But, if you can, try leaving the door open for approaching the subject again in a few months’ time. “Even if you decide to look for another job, when it comes to your existing employer, always remain professional,” says Michael. “Not only will you want them to write you a glowing reference, but who knows when your paths may cross again in the future? Many positions and industries can be quite close knit, so even if you move on, you can’t rule out working with them again.”

The GlassDoor team agrees: “After a salary negotiation, it’s important to know that it wasn’t the last. Your job might become harder if you end up taking on new responsibilities, or you might find yourself with a promotion next year. Lots can happen in the next year or two, so it’s important to consistently make sure that you’re being paid fairly for the amount of work you’re doing.”

 
For more information or career support visit Reed.co.uk, MichaelPage.co.uk and GlassDoor.co.uk. You can also check you’re being paid enough for your job via the government website here. ​

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at info@sheerluxe.com.