Negotiating a pay rise, or thinking about asking for a pay rise can often give even the most confident of people the cold sweats. It's not that you feel cheeky about asking for that important salary increase, it's just that you want to know how to ask for a pay rise the right way. And yes, it's very easy to feel a bit nervous and intimidated when broaching the salary issue with an employer.
Careers expert and employer branding specialist Paul MacKenzie-Cummins recognises that in the modern job market, it's not always easy to take that next step.
'The recession provided the perfect excuse for employers to hold off from increasing the pay of their best workers,' he explained when we spoke to him about salary negotiation. 'But with employment at record levels, today's employees are the ones who have the greater bargaining power.'
That being said, the whole gender pay issue also raises questions about why women earning less than their male counterparts are more reluctant to ask for a pay rise - and that really has to stop, like right now.
Jo Wimble-Groves, a motivational speaker and confidence expert believes that lack of confidence is holding women back in the work place, and that lowering our expectations can affect how we are ultimately perceived.
'I don’t know why women often seem to have systematically lower expectations than men,' she said. 'The problem with this is that low expectations can lead to lower outcomes, because expectations drive behaviours.'
So ladies, don't be scared. If you feel a salary increase is on it's way to you, here's how to ask for a pay rise in 4 easy steps:
1. Arm yourself
'Just because you have shown loyalty to your employer or been there longer than most, doesn’t automatically qualify you for a pay rise,' Paul explained. 'So before you charge into your boss’s office all gung-ho, ask yourself What have I really done to earn this pay increase?'
'Think of incidences when you have gone above and beyond your job description, the role you played in a team project, and the positive outcome that was achieved. If the next position up from you was to suddenly become available, would you be the obvious candidate to fill it?'
And of course, being confident about your proposal is essential.
'You need to have a clear and confident approach in addressing why you deserve the additional income based on your performance,' Jo emphasised. 'This is your opportunity to positively express how the business can benefit from your valued skillset including those that you naturally possess as a woman, so it’s important not to undersell yourself.'
2. Compare the market
When it actually comes to asking for a pay rise, Paul stressed the importance of keeping your goals clear. 'You want a pay rise, but by how much? Simply saying to your boss, I want a pay rise, is not enough. The first thing they will ask you is, How much do you think we should be paying you? Have the answer ready by doing some research beforehand.'
'Check the jobs ads to see how much people performing the same role as you are getting paid in other organisations. If you are getting paid a lesser amount, you have a great case to justify a pay increase. But if you’re being paid the same or even higher, then you better have a good argument to support your request.'
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3. Ask for a meeting
'People are often sensitive where salaries are concerned, and they tend to leave any discussion of a pay rise until their next annual appraisal comes around. Or, even worse, they tag it to the end of a meeting about something else entirely and try to squeeze an extra five minutes of their boss’s time to discuss something that is of great importance.'
Paul suggests asking for a separate meeting with your manager where the only topic of discussion on the agenda is that of your potential pay rise.
4. Be prepared to negotiate
Both Paul and Jo agree that negotiation is key, and that 'no' might mean 'not now'. Most impotantly, Paul stressed to not see it as a 'slight against you'.
Jo also added that working with your employer is a positive way to tackle an otherwise negative situation.
'Negotiate collaboratively and look at a salary negotiation as a joint problem-solving exercise. If the salary doesn’t meet your expectations, ask your line manager how you could work together to bridge the gap.'
'If a monetary increase is not on the table at this stage, what else could be? Could you negotiate an extra day’s holiday, subsidised gym membership, increased car allowance, or perhaps your employer could fund a professional course that could help you as you progress your career? Non-monetary benefits can add as much as 30% on top of your existing package, so while the extra cash may not be forthcoming, you could still be a winner.'
And of course, if you have followed these tips and negotiated a pay rise, congratulations!