How to gracefully negotiate a pay rise

We regularly find ourselves asked for advice on this topic. Negotiating a higher starting salary or a pay raise is rarely easy. We may want or even need more money, but not often does anyone get excited about having to ask for it.

We are told that money is an emotive issue, and it certainly is. One would think that asking for, and getting what you deserve, should be a straightforward process, but in reality, it is a nerve-wracking experience for most.

However, help is at hand. The following tips are suggestions to make the experience a little smoother:

Of course, you need to enter into a salary negotiation prepared. It’s hard not to get emotional, but one way of minimising the emotion is to treat it as if it’s a pitch for a project, for your services.

Most importantly, you need to have a good idea of how much you’re worth to your employer and there are many ways to do this:

  • Conduct a thorough search on LinkedIn Jobs for similar roles to get a benchmark salary range for your role. This is a simple gauge of your salary at a minimum.
  • Review online salary surveys and reach out to a recruitment agency. Do your market research and discover the salary bracket for your role. Visit recruitment agencies websites (like Frog Recruitment!) and review online Salary Surveys and market information.

Rule of Thumb: It’s a good idea to have a reasonable figure in mind. Organisations may still be under pressure so make sure the figure you have in mind is fair.

It is never a good idea to just state that you want a salary increase – you need to be able to demonstrate why you deserve a pay rise.

Step one here, is to take stock and review what you have been doing and have achieved so you can emphasise the value you have added to the organisation. To assess what you have contributed to the organisation consider asking yourself the following;

  • Earned extra revenue for the company/saved the company dollars?
  • Received great customer feedback?
  • Met tight deadlines?
  • Suggested solutions or improvements?
  • Taken on new initiatives?
  • Demonstrated you have used your problem solving abilities or worked extra hours voluntarily?

The focus is to showcase the strengths you bring and value you add, to your organisation. It helps to have information to demonstrate your value to the organisation.

This can be anything from printed materials to an actual presentation. It’s especially helpful if you’re multi-skilled and contribute in various areas; as this means it’s highly likely the company will incur more cost in replacing you because of your diverse skill sets.

What you’re trying to highlight here is the wider contribution you make inside your organisation, which will lead your manager to think; ‘Oh no, losing … would be a nightmare”.

Step two is to remember to outline what you plan on delivering and achieving in the next 12-18 months within the organisation.

Your employer will be impressed at your forward thinking. They know what you can do, but to be presented with your ideas regarding future plans for your position can be very powerful. Make sure it’s presented as a basis for discussion  as opposed to being set in stone.

Look to ‘beef up’ your job by taking on more.  By adding more responsibility you are positioning yourself for an increase. What else could you add to your role? Be careful though, to make sure you are not taking on so much that you feel overwhelmed.

Ideally the best way to tackle this subject is in a meeting.  A meeting means two-way communication; it allows you to present your case, answer questions and overcome objections on the spot.  At the time of requesting the meeting it would be wise to let your employer or manager know the nature of the discussion, so they have time to prepare as well.

If your company is not in a position to offer you a monetary increase, think of your compensation as a whole. Consider workplace benefits such as changes to private health insurance, flexible working arrangements, car parks and an increase in annual leave.

This could end badly. You can always decide what you might want to do in your own good time. Ask for the money based on what you can do for the company but don’t make it a requirement of your employment.

If turned down, ask what you need to do to increase your salary; what advice do they have for you? When might be a suitable time to discuss this again? Although it can be disheartening, keep emotions out of the picture – it’s best to be prepared and deal with the facts.

Asking for a pay raise may make you feel uncomfortable just as it does for most people. Even when you muster the courage, there are no ‘magic pills’ that will guarantee your success. But by being prepared and conducting the process in a professional manner, you will most certainly, dramatically increase your chances.

Good luck.


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