Regardless of how much you might love your job, there are some aspects of working life that can prove difficult – like discussing salary increases with your boss for example. Studies in the UK suggest women are less likely than their male counterparts to ask for a pay rise, and in some cases, when women do ask for more money, they lose out to those who make a more convincing case. Our confidence, intuitiveness and the way in which we ask for certain things has a lot to do with whether or not we’ll be afforded them. So, if you feel it’s time to ask for a raise, bear these nine things in mind before taking the plunge…
Do your research
Get a sense of whether you’re actually undervalued within your company by asking colleagues how much they’re paid. If this is a little awkward, check job advertisements to judge how much competitors pay employees in similar roles to yours. Are you close to anybody who has recently left your company? Take them to lunch to chat about salaries and check the ad for their replacement, too.
Aim high but don’t ask for a fantasy figure. Consider what your company may actually be able to afford and try speaking to your HR department about how pay increases are calculated, too; an average pay-rise these days is five to 10% of your salary.
Be sure to tie up any loose ends and ensure your work is of a high standard before the meeting. Pushing for an exceptionally good week before you sit down to discuss salary will show what you’re capable of and will stand you in good stead. Additionally, if you’re on good terms with any managers or colleagues who would be willing to big you up, ask if they might mention your recent performance or send an email about the high quality of your work and positive attitude.
Pick the right time
Don’t approach your boss at the busiest time of the week. Monday mornings (when everyone’s warming up for the week) and Friday afternoons (when they’re warming down) are out, too. Instead, talk to your manager when they’re feeling relaxed. Equally, long-term timing is important. If your company has recently let people go, it might not be the best time to ask for a raise, however, if other members of your team are flourishing, seize the opportunity.
Choose the right surroundings
Neutral ground might help you to feel more at ease and eliminate any feelings of inferiority that might affect the way you present yourself. If the thought of stepping into your employer’s office overwhelms you, ask if they might like to join you for lunch, pop out for a coffee or schedule time in a meeting room or private break-out area. If you see your boss outside of work, ask if you might chat to them about a work issue during off-duty hours.
Be clear and confident
Have your reasons clearly laid out before you ask. Try not to be awkward or dramatic and definitely avoid issuing any ultimatums. Remember that these decisions are made based on your performance, not on length of time served so think about impactful and quantifiable evidence that you can use to strengthen your case and be as open, friendly and professional as possible. Don’t just focus on what you’ve already achieved either – explain what you’re prepared to give back to the company in return for your pay rise and what you aim to achieve over the coming year.
Don’t complain or use words like underpaid or undervalued. You want to continue to enjoy your job at a higher salary, not give the impression that you’d rather be somewhere else. Be gracious and try to highlight your accomplishments, rather than how difficult or challenging the work is. Focusing on yourself and your own work is key, regardless of whether you know how much a colleague is earning, this is about you, so don’t mention them or make comparisons in this instance.
Don’t just let the question hang in the air. Send an email after the meeting and keep lines of communication open to ensure the issue is at the front of your boss or manager’s mind. Ask for feedback If the answer is no, don’t go silent – be sure that you ask for feedback and maintain a good relationship with your boss and managers.
Don’t take it personally
Be sure to get as much information as possible in order to work on what you’ll need to make your case stronger next time. Asking for a future date to sit down and review your progress is always a good idea, too. If your employer can’t offer you a pay increase because the company can’t afford it, they’ll now be aware you would like one, and will be more likely to keep you in mind if and when funds do become available. Summoning the courage to broach a difficult subject at work is great practise for future meetings, and you’ll find that next time you find yourself in a similar situation, you’ll feel calmer and more focused than before.