How to negotiate a pay rise!

By: Robert Gaines

Asking for a pay rise and getting what you want isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

There is definitely an art to negotiation and it’s a skill that you need to acquire if you’re serious about managing your career – no one else is going to do it for you. But don’t go into it thinking it has to be a hostile situation, view negotiations as a discussion that is friendly but unemotional and you will have a far better shot.

Key to achieving a successful result is having a strategy:

Get your timing right

Don’t just waltz in to the office and demand a pay review. Most organisations review salaries as part of their performance management process, so this is the most sensible point at which to discuss it. Aside from this, you should also consider when you were last given a salary increase and why you believe you deserve another one – have you been consistently exceeding your targets or has your performance had a significant impact on the business? Remember, the very best time to discuss a pay rise is after a sustained period of excellent performance.

What are you worth?

This is an essential part of your preparations to ensure that you are being realistic and not overvaluing yourself. Find out what other people in similar job roles within your sector are earning. Speak to contacts within your professional network, use LinkedIn also to establish a salary range by looking at advertised job vacancies. You could also use online tools such as salarytrack.co.uk, glassdoor.com and payscale.com, where you can get guidance on salaries based on job type, experience and location. You could even go the whole way and start applying for jobs – an extreme course of action, but an actual job offer would give a clear indication of your market value, not to mention additional negotiating power with your current employer.

It’s also worth knowing what it would cost your employer to replace you – recruitment costs and how business critical projects and client relationships might be adversely affected if you were to leave.

Build your business case and know what you want

Be clear about why you want a pay rise and why at this particular point in time. Record all your achievements and support them with hard evidence – the financial worth of contracts you’ve won or projects you’ve worked on, your contribution to team performance, and what you bring to the company. The more skills you can demonstrate and how your value is spread across different parts of the business, the more likely your employer will realise that you’re worth hanging on to.

Know who you need to speak to

Make sure you know the correct process and who is involved. Your line manager may not necessarily have the power or influence to make the final decision, but they deserve to be part of the conversation – after all, they may be an ally who will support you at a higher level.

Be prepared to negotiate

So you know what you deserve to be earning, but you also need to decide on how flexible you’ll be depending on what your employer offers. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be offered the same sort of package you’d get if you were moving company, but it doesn’t mean to say you should settle for the lowest offer. It’s also worth remembering that negotiation doesn’t just have to be about salary – bonus incentives, additional holiday allowance and training opportunities all have their value.

Be the strong, silent type

When your employer makes their offer don’t feel compelled to answer straight away. Part of successful negotiating is controlling the pace of the conversation. If you don’t speak immediately – and we are all naturally conditioned to fill silences – your employer may feel the need to say and offer more without you needing to do anything. And don’t agree to any offer as soon as it’s been made - give yourself time to think about it. This also sends your employer the message that it’s an important decision.

And if all else fails…

If you don’t get the pay rise you hoped for, be professional about it. Yes, you may feel that you’re not valued sufficiently and it may prompt you to look for a new position. But don’t forget that you will need a good reference and you never know who knows who in your industry.

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