How to ask for a pay rise

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As they develop their skill set and achieve goals in the workplace, it’s understandable that most employees would like, or perhaps even expect, an increase in salary to match. However, this doesn’t mean everyone is seeing their accomplishments reflected in their pay packet. According to Totaljobs’ most recent Job Satisfaction Index, 70% of those surveyed had not received any pay rise or promotion in the last year. What’s more, those that believe they deserve a raise might not be brave enough to request one. Research by CV Library showed that two out of three men and a mere two out of five women would feel comfortable asking for a pay rise.

If you can relate, have no fear. Nerves shouldn’t be what stand in your way of asking for a higher salary. When the time comes to discuss an increase in your wages, follow these steps, and hopefully you’ll be able to negotiate the raise you deserve.

1. Do your research

When asking for a pay rise, you’ll be in a much stronger position if you already have an ideal salary in mind. We’d all love to see our wages double or even triple, but you can’t just pluck an unrealistically high number out of the air and expect to be taken seriously. Instead, do your research and choose a fair, realistic and well-informed new salary to put to your boss. And the only way you’ll know what you’re worth is by finding out what others like you are being paid. London-based creative recruiters Major Players recommend researching the salaries on job listings similar to your role, speaking to friends or mentors, or contacting a recruitment.

However, it’s also important to look into the state of your company before you initiate negotiations. If the business is having a financial lapse, now is probably not the time to ask for a pay rise. Make sure you read over the company’s pay policy too — if there may be a set procedure in place, you will need to see which criteria you need to meet before being considered for a pay rise.

2. Ask after a big accomplishment

The best time to ask for a salary increase is after achieving something notable in your job. Research from Payscale shows that senior staff have a better chance of getting a pay rise than those in lower-placed roles, with managers 42%, directors 119% and executives 142% more likely than an “individual contributor”. This suggests that those who add the most value to the company have the highest odds of boosting their pay packet. Therefore, to swing the balance in your favour, the best time to ask for a pay rise is when you’ve done something that truly proves your value. If you’ve just completed a difficult project, exceeded your targets, or played a leading role in securing a major new client, this would be the perfect moment to discuss your salary. Your boss will be far more likely to agree when your recent successes are fresh in their mind.

3. Have good reason to request more money

You need to have solid evidence to support your case when asking for a pay rise, as your employer won’t be necessarily willing to spend any more money on you if there’s no demonstrable reason to do so. NHS worker Tessa Fyson learned this the hard way, as she explained to the BBC: “When I got asked the inevitable question, ‘Why should we give you a pay rise?’ – I froze! […] It made me feel and look incredibly naïve and I was told to think of the reasons why and then come back.”

Make sure there’s at least one impressive achievement you can draw upon to explain why you deserve to be rewarded. Your point will be made even more effectively if you can emphasise your accomplishments with concrete data. Tracking your performance with simple visual aids like graphs, charts or even just percentage increases will clearly demonstrate how your work has directly benefited the company.

4. Be confident

This may be easier said than done, but you have to hold your own when broaching a topic this important. Talking about salary always seems awkward—Brits, for example, find it harder to discuss money than personal issues such as mental health and infertility. However, if you have done all the necessary research and can supply solid evidence supporting the reasons you deserve a pay rise, there’s no need to be scared.

Practice how the conversation could go with family or friends if you want some extra preparation. And even if you do feel anxious once you’re in front of your boss, try and fake confidence by sitting up straight, making direct eye contact, and speaking as calmly and professionally as possible. Hopefully your employer will agree to your proposal, but even if not, they’ll certainly respect your approach and look upon you more favourably when you next ask for a pay rise.

5. Consider alternative benefits

Of course it will be a disappointment if your request is declined, but if this does happen, try and get the most you can out of the conversation by mentioning any other benefits you’re interested in. Over two-thirds of British employees claim that a pension scheme is one of their most valued workplace benefits, along with health insurance, life insurance and critical illness cover. Consequently, if you want your employer to increase the contribution they make to your pension scheme, for example, ask about this sooner rather than later. This chat is also a great opportunity to discuss your work-life balance, target-determined bonuses, or the notion of taking on further responsibilities. As you will have already demonstrated your worth earlier in the exchange, you will have hopefully proved your value to the company, and won’t leave the room empty-handed after all.

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