Negotiating your pay is part and parcel of working life. Here’s how to make the experience of asking for a salary raise less daunting…
There are no two ways about it, talking money is awkward, and if you find yourself wanting to shy away from the topic, you’re not alone. But here’s the thing, it really shouldn’t be. Negotiating your pay is all part and parcel of working life, and advocating for the salary we deserve should be normalised. Women in particular are often guilty of not asking for their due compensation, widening the already stark gender pay gap. Here’s how to go about changing that.
Ahead, we’re breaking down exactly how to ask for a salary raise. Deep breaths, you’ve got this!
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Evaluate Your Performance
First thing’s first, it’s time for some self-reflection. In order to make a strong case for your salary raise, you need to be clear in your own mind about why you deserve more money. Literally put pen to paper and set out why your performance justifies a pay rise. What value do your bring to your role over and above your job description? What have you achieved recently that has resulted in success for your company?
Include every example of when you have saved the company money, brought in a valuable client, mitigated a costly risk, negotiated a valuable clause, improved efficiencies, motivated team members, enhanced the atmosphere of the office and lived the core values of the organisation, as well as the ways in which you will continue to add value. If you can back your achievements with hard facts and statistics, that’s all the better.
One of the best ways to demonstrate the value you add is by collecting testimonials from your clients and the people you work with. Others want to see you succeed, so don’t be shy about asking for honest appraisals. Incorporate all that fantastic feedback into your business case.
Know Your Worth
Next, you need to determine what your skill set is worth in the relevant market.
To do this, you’ll have to collect data from a number of sources. Google is a good place to start; take a look at the various salary surveys available, along with job advertisements in similar roles. You could also try reaching out to recruiters via phone call or LinkedIn to ask what jobs are available for your particular range of skills and what companies are paying for these roles. Remember, knowledge is power.
Research done? Now consider all the data you have collected and set both a target salary and also another figure that is the absolute minimum amount you will accept. Lastly, have a think about any alternative forms of compensation that you would be open to bringing to the table, including a title change or more annual leave days.
Sassy Tip: It hurts to say, but women are more likely to consider themselves less deserving of remuneration than their male counterparts. Once you’ve got your two figures worked out, add on a 10% “man uplift” to reflect the amount your male contemporaries will likely be asking for.
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Consider The Timing
In the current economic climate, it may be difficult for companies to offer salary increases. But that shouldn’t stop you from asking altogether! If you know your employer has been struggling recently and that a monetary raise is unrealistic, you could pursue the other forms of compensation mentioned above instead. This is also a great opportunity to get a salary review booked in for further down the line, once your company is more financially stable.
Set An In-Person Meeting Or Phone Call
Once you’ve prepared all your research, go ahead and email your boss to request an in-person meeting or phone call. It’s a good idea to briefly mention here that you wish to discuss your performance and salary, just so they’re not caught off guard. On that note, do be mindful of what is currently on your boss’ plate before you initiate a meeting – if they are especially stressed and busy with an important project, it may be worth waiting until things have calmed down before approaching them.
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Confidence Is Key
There’s no doubt that salary conversations are nerve-racking, but it’s important to keep calm and project confidence.
Before you walk into your meeting, be sure to put your professional negotiating hat on. Steer clear of emotive phrases like “I’ve worked hard all year and I feel I deserve a raise”. Instead, refer to your business case and emphasise the value you add to the company. If it helps, come up with a script beforehand and get some practice in with a friend.
You may find it difficult to get over your people-pleasing instincts, feelings of guilt, associations with greed and concerns about being labeled “difficult”, but remember that these are born from unconscious gender bias and learned cultural assumptions shaped over many years through education, culture, and experience. They are irrelevant. When in doubt, remind yourself that if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Mentally Prepare Yourself For Rejection
Though this is of course not the ideal outcome, if you’ve done your homework correctly, there are still ways of making this conversation a success.
In the first case, this is where your alternative forms of compensation come in; even if your company is not prepared to offer a financial raise, you may be able to get other benefits.
Secondly, in having this conversation you will have made your career ambitions clear to your employer. Take this opportunity to find out directly what more you need to be doing to get there, whilst also asking for clarity about whether your expectations are in line with what your company can offer. This will put you in a much stronger position to assess your future plans, and whether you need to start considering a career move.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October, 2017, and was most recently updated in March, 2022. With thanks to Elissa James for her contribution.