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How to negotiate a pay rise

By Sarah Owens on 08.03.16 in Career

Asking for a pay rise is perhaps one of the most difficult conversations you'll ever have at work - harder still to get it right and achieve the result you want. Some see it as very 'un-British' to talk about money and worse still to ask for more of it. Furthermore, a lot of people have a misguided sense of fair play, thinking their talents will be recognised and rewarded accordingly - but this is rarely the case. That's why it is usually your pushier colleagues that come out with the fatter wallets. 

The fear of failure or time wasted was sighted in research as being the main reason why six out of ten people don't even bother to ask for a pay rise in the first place. Failure is generally due to getting the timings of our conversations wrong, misreading signals and the inability to assess our strengths and weaknesses correctly. 

In order to help you in your quest for a raise, we've put together a list of do's and don'ts to help you succeed. 

DO: 

Arrange a meeting with your boss

Arrange the meeting in advance and give your boss some idea about what you want to talk about. Simply turning up because you've had a bad day is likely to lead to a quick brush-off. Time your meeting to coincide with the completion of some specific project, especially if you were heavily involved. If there is no such handle, you may do better to bide your time until there is. 

Be prepared

Before you enter your meeting, make sure you are properly prepared.  Have a clear idea of what you want and how you are going to get it. Make sure you can present your achievements over the past year clearly and simply. Keep things short - don't bore your boss - think elevator pitch. Where possible, provide evidence of your successes, but again choose a few plum ones, not a whole stack. 

Think like a boss

Think about your need for a pay rise from your boss's point of view. Ask yourself why you deserve one? Give your boss the facts that will allow him or her to justify your increase. Ask yourself what financial benefits you have brought to the company? How have you helped with the smooth running of your department? Have you introduced any new ideas or working practices to the department? All these things will make your case stronger. 

Find out what you're worth

Try to find out what people in comparable positions in the firm or at rival companies earn. Look at job ads on the myriad of jobs boards or on LinkedIn. The trade press usually do an annual salary survey, so scout out their website and see if they have done one for this year. 

So, now you've heard the things you should do to try and get a pay rise, we're also going to tell you the things you shouldn't do. 

DON'TS 

Don't get your hopes up too high

Be open-minded. Try to remember that pay is only a part of your overall package. Most companies now include a pension scheme, as well as benefits such as private medical cover or life insurance, bonuses and employee share plans and share option schemes. Your boss may refuse a pay rise but offer you an improved pension deal or an enhanced bonus package - neither of which should be sneezed at. Furthermore, it might be worth asking for more holiday as a bargaining tool, instead of more money. However, we do understand you want to see the hard cash - we're just helping you manage your expectations. 

Don't pick the wrong time

Getting your timing right is essential if you want the best outcome. Rolling up at your boss's office just before a board meeting or after your company has issued a profit warning really isn't a good idea. You may be shown more than the office door. 

Don't plead

Have some pride! Pleading for a pay rise on emotional grounds or getting confrontational is a total no-no. It's not a good idea to say you need the extra money to buy a house or go on a luxury holiday either - this is not your boss's or indeed, your company's responsibility. You have to prove that you deserve the extra money. Bursting into tears if your request is refused won't do you any favours either. 

Don't make threats

We aren't talking about holding a knife to your boss's throat - what we mean is not threatening to walk out if you are turned down. That just demonstrates your lack of commitment to the company. If possible, agree how you intend to take things forward and set a time for a pay review in the future. Equally, don't say xxx company has offered to pay me more. Your boss will most likely show you the door. 

In conclusion, asking for a pay rise is never easy - however, if you follow our steps (as well as what to avoid) and make sure you are properly prepared, then you might be pleasantly surprised. But remember too that there are many factors that bosses need to take into account when awarding a raise - some of which will be beyond your control, so if you don't get one, listen to the reasons why and take them on board before planning your next move.