Wouldn’t it be great to earn more money doing what we already do? To turn up at work every day and do the same job, but have a bigger chunk of cash paid into our bank accounts every month? OF COURSE IT WOULD. You could be missing out on extra money every month by not knowing how to negotiate a pay rise.
If you want to make more money to reach your financial goals- whether that’s getting out of debt or starting to build a healthy savings pot- your first port of call should be the place where you spend most of your waking hours. The office. (Or the zoo, school, chocolate factory, wherever your place of work is).
You spend much of your life at work, so before going home to do even more work to make some extra money, you’re better off asking to get paid more for the hours that you already work. It sounds simple, in theory.
Read more: 20 ways to make extra money in London
But the reality is that for generations we have been conditioned to think that asking for more money (particularly as a woman) is greedy, ‘pushing your luck’ and crude. And no one wants their employer to think that they are any of those things, do they? But the thing is, it’s just not true. Negotiating a pay rise is expected, particularly when you are negotiating the starting salary for a new position. Someone who had recruited many an employee over the years at a large corporation once told me ‘when someone doesn’t negotiate their salary, we rub our hands together.’ Doesn’t that say it all?
Uttering the words ‘I’d like to discuss my salary’ to your manager can seem ball breakingly terrifying, and it is, it’s enough to make anyone break out into a cold sweat. But the potential results are worth it. The worst thing that can happen is that your employer says no- they most certainly won’t think any less of you for asking, and if they do say no, you can use one or two of my back up tactics which I explain later in the post. If they say yes, you’ve probably got an extra £100+ a month to play with- it’s worth the clammy hands!
So, are all us millennials asking for pay rises or are we still scared of judgement? The results are mixed. I asked on Instagram stories whether anyone had asked for a pay rise before and the responses varied wildly from ‘ YES, every year’ to ‘NO, I’M TOO TERRIFIED TO ASK.’ It was about half and half. I asked those who had never asked for a pay rise why they hadn’t asked, and these are some of the replies:
‘I’d feel awkward!’
‘I felt too rude and scared of rejection’
‘Not knowing how to articulate why I deserved it/being terrified’
‘Feeling awkward or that my boss would think I’m greedy or arrogant’
‘I’m scared of rejection!’
In this post I’m going to address some of these fears and help you to prepare as best you can to negotiate a pay rise that you deserve. It’s going to be a little awkward, but remember that your manager has probably been asked about pay rises before, and if my (very) little survey is anything to go by, it’s a good chance that one of your colleagues has asked for a pay rise at some point. So, how can you prepare for the all-important chat with your employer?
Questions to ask yourself before asking for a pay rise
Before diving in and asking for a pay rise, you need to start by asking yourself some questions. First, consider your performance within the company. Are you doing your job to an exceptional standard and smashing your KPIs and objectives? Are you going above and beyond what is required of you in your role?
To be ready to ask for a pay rise, you need to first be confident that you are absolutely bossing it when it comes to your role and responsibilities. As cheesy as it sounds, you need to get to a level of self-belief where you feel that there is no one else out there who could do a better job, and that you are a respected and irreplaceable member of the team. If you’re not currently meeting your objectives and doing your job to an exceptional standard, you already know that your manager’s answer to your question will be no.
If you are doing a fantastic job, the next thing is to think about what the ideal outcome of the conversation is- what is the figure that you are looking for? Is it an increase by £1k? £2k? £5k? Your employer is likely to ask you what figure you have in mind, so carefully consider the sum of money that could make a real difference to your financial goals every month.
How to prepare
The most important thing to do in preparation is to create a long list of your achievements and contributions from the past year. This will vary depending on the job you do, but be sure to include anything that shows that you have added value to the company. This could be anything from implementing a new system to closing a multi-million pound deal. This information is essential to articulating why you deserve a pay rise- the more fabulous the list, the harder it is for your employer to say no. Write out the list in a note pad and bring it with you to the meeting- no shame in reading off your list if you need a little prompt or two.
Do some benchmarking. Research similar roles in the industry that you work in, in the city that you work in, and check what salary range they are offering. This will also help you figure out how much more money to ask for when you negotiate.
If your current responsibilities match (or are very similar to) the responsibilities listed on a job description and it’s paying a higher salary than you are earning, print it off and tuck them into your notebook just in case you need them in the meeting.
It’s a bit ballsy to hand these printouts over to your boss, but, if you’re feeling underpaid and you want the outcome to be in your favour you need to be prepared with the facts- just in case they try to say that they are paying you the market rate. And if it still doesn’t get you anywhere? They’ll be handy if you decide to look for another job elsewhere 😉
How to negotiate a pay rise
So, that’s how you can prepare for the meeting- but how exactly should you pop the question? Timing is key- if you know that your manager is stressed and working through a busy period, wait a couple of weeks before making your move. You want to ensure that the meeting isn’t rushed and that you have your manager’s full attention to have the optimum chance of getting the pay rise that you deserve.
You should request a one-to-one catch up a day or two in advance, and make sure that you book a meeting room or somewhere where you can have a private conversation. Personally, I think it’s best to start with some chit-chat and then get straight to the point- simply say ‘I’d like to discuss my salary with you.’
It’s important to avoid saying things like ‘I’ve been at the company for a year’ or ‘London is so expensive and I need more money.’ These aren’t good enough reasons to land you a pay rise. This is where your carefully prepared list of achievements come in, and is why you should only ask for a pay rise when you are confident that you are performing your role to the best of your abilities.
If you finish going through your list of achievements and your employer fobs you off and tells you that you are already paid the industry standard (when your previous research shows that you are not), then as a last resort you can get out those print offs that you have tucked inside your notebook and show them to your manager and ask them to reconsider.
What to do if your employer says no
You’ve gone through your shining list of achievements, and you’ve even brought out your print offs- but your manager has still said no.
If your employer has said no, you should ask questions and try to negotiate with them. Ask your manager what you would need to do to get to where you want to be, and see if you can negotiate a deal where if you achieve X, Y & Z, you will receive a pay rise in 6 months’ time.
If your manager still says no to a deal, ask them why. Yes, you might be squirming in your seat at this point, but having a reason why any kind of pay rise is completely off the table means that you can make a better assessment of your future at the company. You will get an insight into what you need to do to improve your performance at the company, or even if you need to look for new opportunities elsewhere.
So there you have it. My best tips on how to negotiate a pay rise. Having a conversation with your employer about salary is never going to end truly negatively. The best possible outcome is that you receive the pay rise that you want. The worst outcome is that you learn more about the opportunities available to you within a company, and you get to make your own choice about whether you are willing to stay on your current salary, or if you need to dust off those print outs and find another employer who pays you what you are worth.
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