Let’s face it – salary is a sensitive subject. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So, with that in mind, we’re sharing our best advice on how to ask for a pay rise.
By the end of this article, you will know how to research, arrange and enter a discussion about pay. (We’ll even discuss how to negotiate when faced with a ‘no’.) So without further ado, let’s get into it:
1. Do your research
Before we dive into how to ask for a pay rise, we need to discuss how to build your case. After all, the goal isn’t to simply ask for a pay rise – it’s to receive one. So, let’s break down what research you need to undertake in order to create a compelling argument:
Understand your firm’s business model
Most firms work on a 1-3 model, which means you should be generating three times as much money as you earn. However, this isn’t always the case, so you’ll want to find out which business model your company currently uses.
You’ll also want to find out whether your firm can facilitate pay rises year-round or whether they only consider them during set periods. After all, you don’t want to undergo all of this research to find out there’s a freeze on pay rises.
Find out the market salary for your role
When asking for a pay rise, you can’t just pull a figure out of thin air. Instead, you’ll need to do some market research to find out the average salary for your role. Thankfully, there are many ways you can access this information. You can contact a recruiter, perform a salary survey, assess job adverts or even scour sites like GlassDoor. The more research you do, the better – as this will help you build a strong case in favour of your pay rise.
Assess your value
Next, you want to assess (as objectively as possible) how valuable you are to your firm.
Are you a manager? Do you handle high-value accounts and projects? Are you great at winning new clients?
Similarly, you’ll want to evaluate your performance metrics. Are you exceeding your targets? How are your client retention rates? How profitable are you?
All of these attributes will help determine how valuable you are as an employee and, in turn, how much money you can ask for.
Do the maths
Now that you’ve compiled your research, it’s time to crunch the numbers.
Firstly, you want to calculate how much it costs your firm to employ you. You can do this by adding between 30 and 35% on top of your base salary. Why? Because this will cover the cost of National Insurance, employment tax and your pension contributions.
Next, you want to compare this figure with your market research and performance metrics. Does your wage reflect the current market? Is your wage an accurate depiction of your true value? Or are your contributions worth more?
If the numbers suggest your true value is higher than your current wage, you can use that as leverage during your negotiations.
2. Choose a professional setting
Now it’s time to discuss how to ask for a pay rise.
Firstly, asking for a pay raise isn’t something you want to spring on someone. So don’t try and slip it into a casual conversation. Instead, you want to arrange a formal meeting with your line manager.
Although it may seem daunting, you’ll want to disclose the nature of the meeting beforehand. Why? Because, as we discussed previously, preparation is vital. Therefore, you have to provide your manager with sufficient notice so they too can prepare.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go into too much detail at this stage – simply explain that you would like the opportunity to discuss a pay rise.
Again, you don’t want this conversation to come as a shock – so you’ll want to choose an appropriate time to bring it up. Appraisals and performance reviews provide the perfect setting to introduce this discussion.
3. Keep your emotions in check
Asking for a pay rise is an emotional thing. On the one hand, you’re hopeful about receiving a raise. On the other, you’re worried about your manager’s response. So, let’s explore how to ask for a pay rise without becoming overly emotional.
There are several ways to ensure you enter your meeting with the right mindset. Meditating and journaling are two of our favourite suggestions, but you could also get out and take a short walk in nature. Whichever method you prefer, the goal is to enter the meeting as calm and as level-headed as possible. After all, you want to demonstrate your passion and commitment to the firm.
Alternatively, if meditating seems a bit woo-woo for you, you can always manage your emotions with a bit of rationale. So let’s look at it objectively. As long as everyone remains professional, the worst thing your manager could say is no. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so bad.
Once you’re in the room, you want to keep things as positive and professional as possible. So try and approach this meeting like you would any other – present your case, structure your negotiations and work with your manager, not against them.
4. How to negotiate if the answer is no
Sometimes the answer we want isn’t always the answer we get. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up altogether.
If your manager can’t offer you a pay rise, don’t immediately shut down the conversation. Ask them to explain why. Is it because there’s a freeze on pay rises? Or could it be because of your performance? Understanding their rationale will help you establish your next step.
If they have rejected your request because they don’t have the capital, see if you can negotiate alternative benefits. For example, could you request more flexi-time or holidays? Or could they cover the cost of your professional development courses? Although it may not be the pay raise you anticipated, these are still valuable additions to your pay package.
Alternatively, you could always seek their professional advice. Some important questions to ask are:
- Do I need to hit a specific target to negotiate a pay rise?
- Do I need to take on additional responsibilities?
- What can I do to help change your mind?
These questions can help you reframe your ‘no‘ into a ‘not now‘ – giving you a source of hope and motivation for the coming weeks and months.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
So there you have it – our best advice on how to ask for a pay rise!
Remember, these conversations may not be easy, but they are always insightful. So do your research and arrange the meeting! Because even if you don’t get a pay rise to start with, at the very least, you’ll know how to achieve one in the future.