Periodically we can all start to feel under-valued for what we do. Whether it be getting the credit and recognition we want for our work or just a few more pounds and pennies a month in our pay packages, it is a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to want.
That said, asking for a pay rise is one of those conversations that many of us struggle with. The fear of being told ‘no’ sits firmly at the top of the list for many people who are afraid to ask for more money. Along with a host of other reasons such as not knowing how much to ask for or how to explain why they deserve it.
So for those of you who are keen to move up a rung on the salary ladder; but have uncertainties and anxieties about how, here are my five ‘must haves’ for that all important meeting.
- Be clear and confident about what you want
You may have personal reasons to want more money such as moving house or starting a family. As long as it’s relatable and not something obscure like growing your collection of baseball cards; it is totally fine to mention in your negotiation, as sometimes it helps to add some context and emotion to the decision-making process. However, your reasons for requiring a pay rise and the amount you are looking for must be well found and clearly explained. For example, saying: “I would like to increase my salary by 10% because I feel it is proportional to my new responsibilities and brings me in-line with the industry benchmark for this role”. This is a clear and well found request, and as long as the facts are right, it can be quite hard to argue against.
- Clearly explain how your responsibilities have changed
The number one reason for justifying a pay increase is because someone’s role and responsibilities changed. If the activities you do at work each day mature or evolve and you now have a bigger or wider impact on the success of your team and business, then this is something you can quantify and use to request an improved salary.
The easiest way to do this is to look back at your role a year ago or when you last had a review of your pay and list all of your core responsibilities. Think about factors such as; how much budget were you responsible for, how many staff did you manage or lead, what systems and processes did you manage, what did customers expect of you, what sort of decisions were you making on a day-to-day basis and what size and scope of projects were you working on? Now compare all those factors to your job right now. Some changes will be big, some will be small and some will genuinely surprise you. Take these changes into your negotiation as your core justification for redefining what you are worth to your company.
- Talk about how you have contributed to big projects and changes
Look back at the large projects your department or business has undertaken, look at the results of that project than assess what your input was to that success. Did the ideas you put forward improve the outcomes of the project? Did the documentation or reports you put together give an important new level of insight? Or did the way you managed your workflow or team ensure work was delivered on budget and on time? It can be easy to pass these things off as ‘just doing your job’, but if you as an individual have created brand new value for the business somewhere along the line, then that in turn deserves and requires recognition. It might not be THE reason you get that pay rise, but ensuring you can demonstrate all the major improvements you have been a part of will definitely support your case.
- Get ready to compromise
In the words of Mick Jagger “you can’t always get what you want”… but that doesn’t mean you should get nothing! When it comes to pay, sometimes this means you need to go a little higher than you need to, so if you are after a 5% increase, perhaps ask for 10%. But Money isn’t the only compensation you can gain out of this negotiation. For example, you may not get a 5% pay increase, but you could get 3% and 4 more extra holiday days a year!
Being prepared to compromise and accept other forms of rewards for your growing role in the company is perfectly valid and sometimes a few extra days holiday, greater flexibility in your work schedule or a change in job title might bring you more happiness than the extra money. Think about the end benefits of what you are looking for, you may realise that more time to spend with your family during the week or something to bump up your CV is a better outcome for you personally.
- Don’t let it end on a maybe
Sometimes managers will procrastinate over making decisions and commitments in these discussions. This is because they now know they have to go and have a similar conversation with HR or their own manager, and they may well be equally as anxious about the response they’ll get. But don’t let this hold you back. If you are told “let’s check back in on this in a few months”, ask to know exactly when and put a review date in the calendar there and then. If your managers says they would like to see you progress a bit more first then ask them to be specific. What areas of improvement are they hoping to see and what mile stones are they prepared to layout to know when you are ready?
The answer may not always come as yes the first time round and that might be appropriate. Be prepared to acknowledge that you may not be ready yet and you may need to demonstrate more progress first. But always make sure you walk away from the meeting knowing what progress should look like and when you can expect to have this discussion again.
For more great advice on how to move forward in your career, develop new skills and access advice from experienced industry professionals, head over to www.AXELOS.com/membership and find out how you can benefit from AXELOS Membership.
Read Toby's previous blog for AXELOS Community, 5 great tips for writing a job-winning CV.