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How to ask for a pay rise

27 Apr 13:00 by Vanessa Dolan

Vanessa Dolan Ask for Pay rise

Money money money, it's definitely not funny. Especially when you're waiting to approach your boss about a pay rise.

Your palms are sweaty, you can feel your heartbeat in your feet and you've got the shakes. But you know you're worth more than your pay cheque.

Talking about money is still a taboo subject, we need to talk more openly about money, how much we earn, how much we want to earn and what we think we're worth.  Here is a few tips on how to make that happen.​

What three practical steps should you remember when asking for a pay rise?

  1. Do your due diligence on the entire company's fortunes, not just the ones in your immediate vicinity. Structural changes like expansion, redundancies or new management can all have an effect on the success of your request, so factor them into the timing of your conversation.
  2. Make a strong case - outline what you've contributed to the organisation, presenting tangible achievements and recent successes.
  3. Have a concrete figure in mind. Don't just vaguely ask for a 'pay rise' - put an actual number on the table, thereby clarifying your expectations for the powers that be.

What kind of language should you use when asking for a pay rise?

Avoid emotional or subjective language such as 'I want' or 'I need'  and instead use phrases like 'I've achieved' or 'I deserve'.

It's vital for you to frame your request as a business argument, not one that stems from personal desire or needs.

How do you start the conversation?

Organise a proper meeting with your boss or manager, as opposed to trying to grab a few minutes with them on the fly.

When setting up the meeting, make sure you clearly state what the purpose of the meeting is - nobody likes being blindsided, and you'll probably fare better if your boss has had a chance to prepare too.

Once you're in the meeting, thank them for taking the time to meet and then dive straight into the fact that you'd like to talk about your compensation package in light of your contributions to the company (or something along those lines) is a good way of kicking things off.

If you're nervous before talking to your manager what's the most useful thing to remember?

Approach salary negotiations as a discussion. Instead of thinking about them as a black and white request that's met by either a 'yes' or a hard 'no' frame the situation in your head as a conversation between two people with common interests, who both want to figure out the best way of getting you to where you want to be salary-wise.

Most managers don't want to lose decent employees and are inclined to trying to find a solution that everyone's happy with.

Should you ever threaten to leave?

Never threaten to leave if you're not fully prepared to follow through. There's no guarantee it'll work, and you might end up in the awkward position of either having to follow through on a threat made in haste, or staying put and undermining your position.

At work, as in life, ultimatums are generally a risky move, so try to avoid issuing them.

What should you do if you think you're being underpaid?

Do your research to identify what positions like yours can earn. Evaluate your earning potential - look at your skills compared to the average, years of service, education, extra training in relation to your job location, sector etc.

Every year Creative Recruiters has done a salary guide - you can download ours from here.

Never compare yourself to someone else in the company or say that you know that someone is making X amount so therefore so should you.  This is not about anyone else in the company except you.

Look at the financial health of the company you are working at - are you in a start up without investor funding? Has your company just merged or been acquired? You can't always gain an idea of financial health from what you see, do some of your own digging to get to grips with exactly where the company sits and what might lie ahead.

I hope these tips have been useful.  Now go in and ask for what you deserve. Once you have mastered the art of getting a pay rise, you will be so much more confident again the in future - as we know this is a skill that will be needed throughout your career and not just a one-off.