Negotiating your pay is all part and parcel of working life
We all know that talking money is frigin’ awkward and it’s quite normal to want to shy away from the topic. But when it comes to your salary, we all need to get real. Negotiating your pay is all part and parcel of working life. It’s also a great opportunity to hone skills you might not have the opportunity to develop in your day job.
So, where to start? Elissa James of irislillian.com shares a few tried and tested strategies to take the stress out of your next pay rise discussion.
Deep down you know how valuable you are to your organisation. You have amazing training and experience and you know you add value in spades. In fact, your company is lucky to have you, dang it! Your boss knows this. You need to as well.
To remind yourself, grab a copy of your resume and study it. Pretend you’ve never seen it before and read it as objectively as possible. Then read it out aloud. Go through it line by line with a friend or your mentor. It’s pretty impressive, yeah?!
Next, determine what your skill set is worth in the relevant market.
To do this you’ll need to collect data from a number of sources. Try calling recruiters and asking what jobs are available for your particular range of skills and what companies are paying for these roles. You can also chat to your colleagues (if you’re allowed), as well as friends in the same industry about their salary bands.
Don’t be afraid to ask Human Resources where your salary sits in relation to your contemporaries. You may discover that you are being paid a premium compared to others. This is great! But it also means it will be more difficult to make a business case for a pay rise. But don’t give up hope just yet. Or you might discover that you’re being underpaid compared to others in similar roles doing the same work. This is not okay – raise the discrepancy with your boss.
Then, consider all the data you have collected and set a target salary (best case scenario). Then decide the absolute minimum amount you will accept. This might be to stay at your current pay level. It hurts to say, but women are more likely to consider themselves less valuable and deserving of less remuneration than their male counterparts. So, once you’ve got your two figures worked out, add on a 10% “man uplift” to reflect the amount your male contemporaries will be asking for.
Literally put pen to paper and set out why (in light of the value you add over and above your job description) the business case is clear that your performance justifies a pay rise. Include every example of when you saved the company money, brought in a valuable client, mitigated a costly risk, negotiated a valuable clause, improved efficiencies, motivated team members, enhanced the collegiate atmosphere of the office, lived the core values of the organisation, as well as the ways you will continue to add value.
One of the best ways to demonstrate the value you add is by collecting testimonials from your clients and people you work with. Others want to see you succeed so don’t be shy about asking for honest feedback. Incorporate all that fantastic feedback into your business case.
Asking for something from your boss can be confronting. Like me, you will find it difficult to get over your people-pleasing instincts, feelings of guilt, associations with greed and concerns about being labeled “difficult”. 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.
Before you walk into the negotiation, be sure to put your professional negotiating hat on. And remember that at that point in time your boss isn’t your mate. He or she is most likely focused on his or her own targets, and they aren’t necessarily aligned with your best interests. Keep an eye out for these management tactics. 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.
Never highlight your flaws voluntarily but do prepare to explain how you will address a weakness if it is raised. If you are asked to give an example of something you could improve, have a response ready but make sure to put a positive spin on it. For example, I recognise that I have been working late recently and I’m aware that I need to focus on delegating.
If after implementing these steps a pay rise is still not forthcoming, consider whether you are missing the mark somehow in your role. Approach your boss and request a performance review. This demonstrates initiative and may identify areas you need to work on. However, if it’s just that the company won’t budge or your boss is a goose, it’s time to update the ol’ LinkedIn profile and move on. You’re a valuable player and other organisations will no doubt be falling over themselves to welcome you to their team.
Go get ‘em, tiger!