How to negotiate a pay rise

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Few people would turn down the chance to earn more money for doing the same job.

But you can’t expect your company to offer you a bigger pay packet for no reason. So what is the best way to secure a salary increase?

We asked employers in a range of different industries to explain what factors they take into account when deciding whether or not to award a pay rise. These tips are based on what they shared.

Ask – otherwise you definitely won’t get

It reportedly took Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood 17 years to ask his famous band mates for a pay rise. When he finally did get round to it, they agreed immediately, saying: “We thought you’d never ask”.

The moral of this story is pretty obvious: if you think you deserve to be paid more, ask for a rise.

“You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said PR company director Nick Gartner. “Approaching your manager about a pay rise will often go down well if you can justify why you should get one.”

Ways to do this include demonstrating how you have progressed professionally since your salary was last reviewed and explaining how you could bring greater value to the business in the future.

Pick your moment

While there is nothing wrong with making a case for a salary increase, it’s important to get your timing right. There’s little point asking for a rise if you know your company is going through a difficult patch financially, for example.

In that situation, offering to take on more responsibility could prove a better approach initially.

Tech start-up owner Hugh Mason said: “We did not have much room to offer higher salaries in the early days, but once there was more money coming in I was happy to reward those who had taken the initiative to take on more responsibility and help others on the team where necessary.”

Catering company owner Joseph Mackenzie agrees. “Increased productivity and output would probably be the main reason I would agree to award a pay rise,” he said.

Do your research

Knowing your worth is vital when it comes to salary negotiations. So research how much people in similar roles elsewhere are earning, and don’t be afraid to flag up any discrepancies – in a respectful way of course.

“We are happy for employees to come to us if they do not feel they are being paid a commercially competitive rate,” Mason said. You should also capitalise on any situation where your particular skills are needed by asking for a pay review.

Finance company director Richard Martin said: “Having essential knowledge or experience of a specific project is one of the best ways to get a pay increase.”

Make a good case

You are unlikely to successfully negotiate a pay rise if you cannot come up some convincing reasons why you deserve one. So before asking for a meeting with your boss, sit down and write down a list of all the reasons you believe your employer should consider increasing your salary.

You might, for example, have started working longer hours, or taken a course that has improved your skill set.

Heather Davis, a ski school manager, said: “I would be most likely to award a pay rise to someone who can demonstrate the value they are bringing to the business, especially if he or she is already working above their pay grade.”

Claim all available perks

It can be tricky asking for a higher salary. But perks such as commission and company cars can make a huge difference to your take home pay.

And the good news is: employers are often happy to hand out extra perks, even if a pay rise is not on the table. So check out what perks are available and work out which ones are worth the most to you.

Human resources manager Amanda Peters said: “Sometimes company policy means you are unable to offer someone a pay rise, even if you don’t want to lose them.

“In this instance, one solution is to consider whether they can access other benefits such as shares or bonuses that will improve their package without actually increasing their salary.”

Look for a new job

If your attempts to negotiate a higher salary fall on deaf ears, one sure fire way of increasing your income is to find a new job that is better paid. So don’t be afraid to start looking for a better option if you feel undervalued in your current role.

Being offered another job can also be a good way to convince your current boss you’re worth more.

“Knowing a good worker is likely to leave will encourage most employers to offer a higher salary,” Martin said. Just remember, however, that empty threats can backfire.

In other words, you must be prepared to leave and take on the new role if you try this approach to salary negotiation – just in case it fails!

Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.

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