Asking for a pay rise is one of the least British things we could do. We’re far happier to mutter ‘I don’t get paid enough for this’ under our breath and silently fume because no one’s read our minds.
This very British approach isn’t useful for you or your employer. You end up lacking motivation, your work suffers as a result, and your employer is left wondering why your billing figures are dwindling.
Time to get real. If you genuinely believe you deserve a pay rise it’s time to put on your big girl pants and ask for it. (But read our tips first, they’re almost definitely guaranteed to help your cause.)
Here are 5 ways to negotiate a pay rise:
1. Money Isn’t Everything
There may be an underlying reason why you haven’t been offered a pay rise; for example, the company may not be able to accommodate extra costs at the moment. Negotiate and think about alternatives that will improve your working life without too much additional spending.
Additional holiday allowances and training opportunities are obvious starting points. Think about what contributes to your stress day-to-day – if your computer continually crashes, ask for an upgrade, if you find yourself getting road rage in the morning traffic, ask to start work a little later.
2. See How You Compare
Scout out what sort of salary you could expect if you decided to change jobs – if they’re well above what you’re being paid currently, your employers are getting a bargain, and it’s definitely time to change things.
You could always try interviewing externally to get an accurate figure, but be careful as it could end up biting you if your colleagues find out! Your employer would also need to factor in replacement costs and any recruitment fees and training for a new employee, so this is usually a good place for you to gain some leverage.
3. Demonstrate Why You’re Worth More
There’s no point in just asking for more money. You are paid to do your job and if you’ve been ‘just’ doing your job then why should you be paid more?
Confidently explain your accomplishments with evidence to back up your points; you sell roles and candidates day to day, this is a chance to sell your own skills. Provide details in the form of printed materials so your manager can take them away. This will help them to negotiate with people further up the chain on your behalf too.
4. Get Your Timing Right
A pay rise isn’t as simple as your manager saying ‘yes’ after you’ve spoken to them. The process involves multiple people as well as HR and finance. Asking for a raise when everyone has overflowing to do lists will get you off on the wrong foot before you’ve set about asking the question.
Aim for a time that will cause minimal disruption, your annual review or quarterly performance meeting is a good opportunity; this is when employers usually do their own payment reviews so you may find that you’re offered a pay rise without needing to ask!
5. Don't Be the First to Name a Price
This may be obvious but it’s where many people go wrong when negotiating: never be the first to name a number. Of course the question will pop up, but do your best to deflect direct questions and work to avoid giving a figure first. That way you can negotiate upwards – if you name your price you’ll only ever negotiate downwards.
Extended silences can be useful for this; people naturally try to fill silence, so take a step back and allow your employer to do the talking. Often this can result in them offering you more than you may have been aiming for originally.
If you believe that you deserve a raise, demonstrate why and build a business case to back up your successes. Research what your market value is and be open to negotiation in terms of benefits aside from additional money. Ensure your timing isn’t disruptive and allow silences to linger that little bit longer to drive your employer to name their price first.
Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.