Five easy steps to negotiating a pay rise

October 24 2016, 0 Comments

Negotiating a pay rise

The pay rise. A thorny topic at best. Common wisdom dictates that women are particularly reticent about asking for one – but are they really? Some studies suggest that it’s not for lack of asking that ladies fail to secure that extra £2k. And, to be honest, it’s not just the gals; when it comes to money, most young Brits have a head-in-the-sand attitude.

Here’s a handy guide to show you what measures to take – and which to avoid at all costs…



Know what you’re worth

First things first. Is your current salary too low and, if so, by how much? It’s useless walking into a negotiation and just saying: “Pay me more.” You need to know what you’re asking.

Do some research. Google is your friend here – peruse, or quiz any colleagues you have who are willing to share their salary info. Get multiple perspectives, so you can list your sources if asked. Your goal is to determine what somebody doing your job is usually paid, then make sure you receive that or more. If somebody doing the same tasks as you at your company is receiving a higher wage, you have an excellent case for a salary increase.

Another thing to consider is your company’s growth. If the company is performing well, your salary should reflect that. If it is suffering… Maybe now is not the time.

Once you have landed on a number, decide on your tactics. Is your current wage so bad that you are ready to walk if negotiations fall through? Tell nobody, but remember that for future reference. Are you willing to accept a compromise from your boss and, if so, how low? Determine the limits of your flexibility beforehand and you are less likely to cave in the actual meeting.




Evidence. It’s not just good for the law court – hard, quantifiable data is the easiest way to prove your value to a company. If you ask for a raise and your boss asks you why, you need to have reasons ready. Nailed a lucrative deal recently? Get those numbers somewhere you can see them. Have a strong ally in your direct manager? Ask him if he will support you if your boss approaches him for a reference. As well as knowing what you actually get up to, co-workers who like you will confirm that you are a team-player who fits in at the workplace.

Now is the time to plan your approach. Don’t be tempted to drop your request into the last few minutes of a team meeting; ask your boss for a separate sit-down, where the only item on the agenda is your salary. That way, you have her full attention and can come fully prepared.

Finally, practice. In the mirror, on your friends, on your partner – practice. When you calmly suggest that your boss may want to raise your wage, you want to sound cool as a cucumber. Confidence is key to presenting a good case.



Understand the risks

Obviously, asking for a pay rise is an awkward situation to be in. While it can pay dividends, there are risks involved which you must understand.

A pay negotiation opened at a difficult time is doomed to fail. If the company’s financial performance is dipping, or you have made a recent blunder in your everyday work, give it another month or two before raising your head above the parapet. Make sure you’re asking at an appropriate time in your workplace environment – after you’ve locked down a big deal, or around any company pay round/Performance Development Review periods.

You must also understand that, in any negotiation, the company as a whole does not want you to win. They want to employ you at the lowest possible salary; it’s good business. While you shouldn’t view your boss as an enemy or give that impression, you must realise that they are not going to say yes easily. You must give them good reason.

In this vein, you must prepare for failure as well as success. If your boss refuses your requests and offers no compromise, you must decide whether you are going to stomach the negative response or walk. Do not speak aloud of your intention either way; your contingency plans are for you to know, not your colleagues.



Negotiate wisely

The negotiating table is not the place for ultimatums or emotional language; these toxic behaviours will not benefit your cause. Always give your boss room to say ‘no’ – it will make her feel more open and relaxed towards you. You are trying to gently lead her towards the conclusion that you deserve the raise; bullying and game-playing will not help you

If, following your initial request, you are presented with a counter-offer, resist the temptation to answer there and then. Ask for time to consider the deal. In general, do not be tempted to skip to the ‘yes’ part – the longer negotiations take, the more likely it is that your boss with come over to your side. It is not to your advantage to force her to a conclusion. Prioritise a good outcome over keeping the process short.



Final showdown

When you finally accept an offer, or hear that your request has been denied, you must respond appropriately. Respect and dignity are key here; make no comments which you would later regret. Shake your boss’ hand, thank her for her time and return to work. If the decision was negative and you later decide to leave your position, you can do so quietly, through the appropriate channels.


Susanna writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.