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How to: Negotiate a payrise

By Tom Bunkham

Undervalued and underpaid? Here’s how to do something about it

Negotiating a pay rise can be one of the tougher tasks we'll undertake whilst in employment. In fact, the fear of unsettling our current work situation can be enough to deter many of us from exploring the idea altogether.

If you feel you deserve a pay rise and the time's come to do something about it, make sure you approach the matter in the right way, and in a way that will leave everyone positive about the outcome:

Ask for a meeting

The easiest way to start the negotiations is to request some time with your manager to discuss your performance. Try to allow yourself some time for this so you're well prepared.

Although it can sometimes be intimidating, always remember that a meeting is a two way communication. Whatever happens, you can argue your case, and answer any of their misgivings. Don’t panic: it’s just a conversation.

Do your homework

Make sure you're prepared to justify your worth. Consider some of your recent achievements, the knowledge and experience you bring to your role, and why now is a suitable time for a pay rise.

You should also research the average salaries in your industry for the role that you do. One of the quickest ways to do this is simply by finding job adverts for similar positions, or by using our average Salary Checker to compare salaries across your industry and region.

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Get your timing right

Unfortunately, not everyone is entitled to a pay rise just because they want one. Before you approach the subject, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When was your last pay increase? If it was within the last year, why do you warrant another one so soon?
  2. Has your performance justified asking for more money? For instance, have you been consistently hitting your targets? Do you outperform your colleagues?

The best time to negotiate a rise is after a period of consistent performance which will make you the obvious candidate for an increase.

Sell yourself

You'll need to justify the reasons why your employer should invest more of their budget in you, so be prepared to sell yourself. Play to your strengths, and make a note of your successes. Demonstrate your contribution to the company for the last and next six months, whether it's through generating revenue, applying your expertise or showing your dedication.

Always remember that your boss may not be the final decision maker, so writing your case down in a clear and concise manner will help them to communicate your request to the relevant parties.

Pay rises are a business decision, so make sure you can prove to your employer what you'll provide in return. Offering to increase your responsibilities, promising a greater output and taking on other daily duties are all good ways to prove that your pay rise is good value for money for your employer.

Don't just think about the money

Sometimes, there are genuine (and simple) reasons why you may not get a pay rise, such as a lack of available funds. But, it needn't all be about the money. Just because your boss has said 'no' to a pay rise doesn't mean you can't enquire about non-financial benefits as an alternative.

For instance, you could ask for more paid time-off, a better car-allowance or another benefit, such as subsidised travel costs or gym membership.

You may find further success by exploring the possibility of funding towards training and development. Not only will you enhance your skills and, ultimately, your market worth, but, with your new-found knowledge, you'll become a more valuable asset to your employer.

Finally, don't burn your bridges

If, in spite of your best efforts, you haven't been able to successfully negotiate the pay rise you wanted, you may decide you feel undervalued by your employer. But, at the very least, you should attempt to leave the door open for approaching the subject again in six months' time.

Even if you decide to look for another job, when it comes to your existing employer, you should always remain professional. Not only will you want them to write you a glowing reference, but who knows when your paths may cross again in the future? Many positions and industries can be quite close knit, so make sure you don’t burn your bridges, whatever the outcome.

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