Pay-rises: How to ask for the salary you deserve

From the potential awkwardness to the fear of being denied, asking your boss for a pay-rise can be truly nerve-wracking. So nerve-wracking in fact, that many of us will wait weeks, months or even years before making our move.

But the truth is, there is nothing to fear. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with negotiating a pay rise that better reflects all of your hard work, particularly if you feel over outgrown your current salary and consistently work above and beyond your role. While many of us don’t always feel comfortable talking openly about money and our salaries, when it comes to your career, these conversations are often a necessary evil.

However, there’s more to starting a pay-rise conversation than just building up your courage. Keep on reading for our expert tips on tackling the dreaded pay-rise conversation, the right way.

Gather evidence and examples

You’re not going to get very far if you can’t confidently justify to your boss why you deserved to be paid more money for your work. So, before you even think about starting up the conversation, you firstly need to prepare hard evidence and examples of times when you’ve exceeded expectations, gone above and beyond to help your team and provided value to the company.

To do this, look back over recent projects and gather specific performance data wherever possible. You can also show your value by highlighting any awards, accolades or testimonials you’ve received that demonstrate how you’ve contributed towards the company’s bottom line or performance. Another way to argue your case is to do your research into how much people with your job title, in the same location are being paid on average. If you’re below average, these figures can be a powerful tool for you to use during your negotiations.

Consider how best to showcase your evidence in both a logical and compelling way to ensure you grab your boss’ attention from the offset.

Choose the right time

Choosing the best time to start this conversation with your boss is arguably the most difficult and delicate part of the pay negotiation process. Thankfully, there are some key windows that provide a natural opening for conversations about money. The first is your annual performance review. If you’ve been working above and beyond your role consistently, there’s a strong possibility that your boss will be expecting you to talk to them about a pay-rise during this meeting.

Another option is to ask for a pay rise shortly after completing an important project or when you’ve produced excellent work. You can also find out when your company does its budget planning and choose a date before it happens for an increased chance of success. Most importantly, you need to choose a time to talk to your boss when they aren’t stressed or short on time as this will make them less receptive to your negotiations. 

Prepare yourself for questioning

No matter how good your relationship is, you should always expect your boss to ask you direct questions about the accomplishments you’re using to justify your request for a pay rise, as well as your future with the company and your reasoning behind wanting more money. Be confident with your answers and don’t be afraid to express your gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have in regard to salary or job responsibilities. This can act as a friendly yet professional preface to you bringing up the subject of money.

You should also be prepared to negotiate with your boss on the specifics of your potential pay rise. This could include moving to a different department, taking on more responsibilities or managing a new team. Also, rather than going in with a specific number in mind, consider going in with a suitable salary range, which is in line with the salary research you did beforehand instead. This will make it easier for you to negotiate and reach a suitable compromise.

Remember it might not happen immediately

Your boss will almost undoubtedly need time to consider your request for a pay-rise, so don’t be disheartened if they don’t offer it to you immediately. It’s likely that they will have to get approval from their boss and talk to HR and finance departments before they can give you the green light. All of this can take time, so try to be patient.

It’s crucial that you spend this time sustaining or even exceeding the performance levels that you are using to justify your pay-rise. There will be people watching your every move to see if you warrant an increase to your salary, so rather than focusing on when your boss will give you the news, put all of your efforts into doing your job exceptionally well over the coming weeks.

What to do if your boss says no 

If your boss isn’t able to grant you your request at the moment, try not to take it too personally. It could be that there just isn’t enough wiggle room in the company budget at the moment, but that doesn’t mean this will always be the case. Just because you’ve asked the question doesn’t mean you can’t broach the subject again in the future, so try to be gracious and understanding about their decision this time.

Remember you can use everything you’ve learned this time around to help you when you bring up the subject again next time. But for the time being, sit down with your boss and create a plan with a specific timetable and goals to help you to reach your desired salary. Alternatively, consider asking for more workplace perks such as a title change, more holiday or working half days on a Friday as compensation for your hard work.

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Lauren Henwood

6th November

Career Advice