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How to Negotiate a Pay Rise

Jennifer Birtles 3rd Sep 2020 One Comment

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a nation, we’re notoriously bad at talking about money. In fact, we’d almost always rather talk about anything else – sex, politics, and religion included! In particular, one of the topics that makes us the most uncomfortable is asking for a pay rise. For some reason we shy away from it. But with almost two-thirds of the population believing they’re being underpaid it’s time we all learnt how to negotiate a raise for ourselves.

When SHould You Ask For a Pay Rise?

Should you ask for a pay rise?

Timing plays an important role in whether your request for a raise will be successful or not. It can even matter what day of the week you decide to ask on. So knowing when to do it will give you the best shot at success!

  • Middle of the week is best – Avoid Mondays as the start of the week is often hectic with everything else going on. Similarly, on Friday afternoons people are starting to wind down for the weekend making it less than ideal for important financial discussions. Some research actually suggests that Wednesday afternoon is the best time to ask, with 78% of surveyed employers agreeing this is when they’re the most receptive to discussions about money.
  • After an annual performance review – A positive performance appraisal offers a good opportunity to discuss your contribution to the business and how your pay reflects this.
  • Following the completion of a successful project, or bringing in positive financial results.
  • Taking on more responsibilities – Being asked to take on additional responsibilities or duties presents a good opportunity to discuss whether this added workload should be reflected with a pay rise.
  • When your contract is due to end – if the company is looking to renew a contract with you then you can use this chance to negotiate a pay rise for your upcoming term.

When You Shouldn’t Ask…

Unfortunately, the current climate makes it a difficult time to ask for a pay rise. Especially when thousands of employees are facing redundancies and unemployment. The economy is still in the early days of recovering from the pandemic, and businesses may be suffering the effects for a while yet. For now, it’s probably best not to put your boss in the awkward position of having to turn you down, and hang on for a little before you ask.

In other cases, it’s also not a great idea to ask for a pay rise:

  • During a particularly busy time for the company, for example just before a big project deadline.
  • Following poor financial results or the loss of business and clients.
  • If your employer has announced financial hardship, or a pay or recruitment freeze.

Preparing to Ask For a Pay Rise

Now you know when you’re planning to ask for a raise – it’s time to prepare. No boss will like having an unexpected chat about your salary thrown upon them on over their morning coffee. Formally book in a meeting with them, and outline what you’d like to discuss. Plus, remember that no matter how daunting it feels asking for a pay rise, employers legally are not allowed to fire you for asking. A small relief in any case.

Don’t cop out by asking for a pay rise by email! Firstly, this makes it a lot easier for your boss to say no than it is in a face-to-face conversation. But it also allows you to negotiate your raise and answer any questions your employer may want to ask you.

In the build up to your meeting, you’ll want to spend plenty of time doing research, which we discuss more below. If you take time to prepare you’ll feel more confident in yourself going in.

Do Your Research

Approaching your boss to ask for a pay rise unprepared will not work in your favour. Take time beforehand to research and prepare an appeal. Providing evidence and examples that illustrate your value to the company are crucial and give you a much more convincing case.

Although it can be uncomfortable, try to discuss with your peers what they earn. Either that, or carry out similar research online to find what the market rate is. You need to know how your pay compares to others in your field, and those in similar roles, in order to work out how much of a raise it’s appropriate to ask for. Especially as you don’t want to undersell yourself and come in too low, or go way above and appear arrogant either.

You can use Glassdoor’s calculator to get a personalised salary estimate based on the current job market.

Prove Your Worth

Prove you're worth a pay rise

Be prepared to have to prove your worth and value to the company. You have to justify to them that you’re worth paying the extra money for.

Here’s some ideas of things to think about when planning how you can prove your value.

  • Loyalty to the company – You enjoy the work you do, value the company and their ethics, and take a lot away from your role.
  • Highlight your achievements – Think about the past 12 months; what have your key achievements and successes been?
  • How will you continue to contribute to the company? Be ambitious with any goals, but also make sure they’re realistic.
  • Do you exceed the job requirements? Although employers don’t want employees who only do the bare minimum, if you’re always going above and beyond make sure you can prove it. It can help by re-reading your job description or contract and note down everything extra you do.
  • Quantify your successes – Use facts and statistics wherever you can to show the value you contribute. Quantitative data is easier to interpret in regards to how successful something, or someone, is. For example, instead of just saying that you exceeded targets last year, state how much by. Maybe this was even more of an increase than the year before?

Most importantly, never be afraid to ask! It’s the age-old “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Good luck!

More Useful Reading

Whether you’re looking for more advice on pay rises, job hunts, or want some ideas on how to make extra cash, we’ve got you covered:

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3 years ago

I’m self-employed and unfortunately far too tight to give myself a pay rise!

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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