If you don’t ask, you usually won’t get.
Asking for more money is probably up there with having teeth pulled, and cleaning the gutters on your list of favourite things to do. As salary freezes continue to thaw, this may be your year to finally go for it.
Ready to speak up for what you want? Here’s what you need to know to feel confident about sating your case and finally score the raise you deserve.
How Often Should You Expect a Raise?
Salary increases are typically granted only once a year, although it’s dependent on the mood of the economy and the demand for employees in your industry.
In general, there are probably only two instances when you can get away with a more frequent hike: if you’re an all-star performer and can make a strong case for why you deserve a raise sooner rather than later, or you’re in a super-competitive industry like tech where the need for quality staff is sky-high.
Timing is Everything!
The best time to negotiate a rise is after a period of consistent performance which will make you the obvious candidate for an increase.
Don’t make an approach at the busiest time of the week. Monday mornings (when everyone’s warming up for the week) and Friday afternoons (when they’re running down) are out, too. Instead, talk to your manager when they’re feeling relaxed – after lunch is a good bet to ask to schedule a meeting. Be vague and save the details for the encounter.
Typically, your company will allocate a certain amount of money for raises, which your boss must divvy up among his employees. Make sure to present your case for getting a bigger slice of the pie long before that decision has to be made.
Do your research
You most certainly won’t convince your boss to give you a dream salary. Instead, get a sense of whether you’re actually undervalued within your sphere, use job advertisements to judge how much competitors pay similar employees. Then, before talking to your manager about your salary, speak to your human resources department as they might be able to tell you how pay increases are calculated.
In a perfect world employees would be evaluated on their talent and commitment. In reality, many managers are prone to making snap decisions on a visual basis. Make sure your day-to-day manner, demeanour and appearance work in your favour. There’s no point donning you best bib and tucker for this meeting, when you look like a sack of poo the rest of the week. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have, is a good rule.
You’ll need to justify the reasons why your employer should invest more of their budget in you, so be prepared to sell yourself; it could be that your immediate boss may not be the final decision maker, so writing your case down in a clear and concise manner will help them to communicate your request to the relevant parties.
If your manager is seated on a large and imposing chair, then they’ll be more inclined to behave in an authoritarian way. If possible, take your meeting to a neutral spot in the office and seat your boss somewhere soft and comfortable. A relaxed manager is far more likely to agree to your demands.
Once you have made your case and laid your cards in the table, stop talking, and give your interviewer a chance to respond. When we get anxious, we often repeat our argument to make it more forceful, but with the opposite effect. Silence is fantastic, as is asking for their advice, “What do you think?” That open question gives them a chance to answer.
A snivelling employee is as attractive as a weeping ex-partner – and just as unlikely to achieve a positive result. Don’t get overly defensive or aggressive, people rarely respond beneficially to an extreme tone of voice. Try to be relaxed, as well as casting aside any bashfulness, you’ll appear more confident, even if you don’t feel it.
Remember to listen
Often when we get anxious we stop listening because our mind is thinking of loads of counter arguments and justifications. Keep a clear head by remembering to listen and you will appear more assured too.
Follow up with an email
Make sure that whatever you agree is put in writing. If your boss says they don’t have the budget for a pay increase at the moment, ask them when they expect that situation to change and make a note in an email. Such as: ‘It was really interesting to hear your thoughts – you suggested that I should ask again about salary in ‘x ‘months time, and that’s really helpful’.
Don’t burn your bridges
Even if you decide to look for another job, when it comes to your existing employer, you should always remain professional. Not only will you want them to write you a glowing reference, but who knows when your paths may cross again in the future? Many industries can be quite close knit, so make sure you stay friendly, whatever the outcome.
Spend half an hour in the bathroom before pay discussions practising your confident body language, curled-lip expressions, and that “I’m worth so much more” voice!