One of the hardest things to do is to figure out how to ask for a raise from your employer. There’s the fear of rejection and or making things uncomfortable versus the need for more money and the feeling of self worth. The key to a successful salary negotiation is in the preparation, so here are some helpful tips and advice to help you prepare and increase your chances of success.
Assess your value in the company
We all think we are a vital part of the company mechanics but, when it comes to salary negotiation, it doesn’t hurt to have some concrete data to back this up. Therefore, knowing your worth and being able to articulate this is a good place to start when planning to ask for a salary raise.
Prepare a list of accomplishments during your time with the company, both personally and ones you have been part of as a team. Look at how you have impacted the business and the responsibilities you have taken on in addition to those of your original role.
Assess the market
For starters, look at similar jobs on websites and platforms like LinkedIn. They will give you an accurate idea of the salary people in the same role as you are currently receiving around the country. Salary surveys and checkers can also give you a good idea, and you can even talk to recruiters to find out some figures.
You might also want to consider how much it would cost your company to replace you. It is useful if you work in a role with tangible deliverables such as £x cost savings per year versus the cost of an external consultant. It will help build a case that it is more cost effective to give you a pay raise than to bring in someone else to do your job.
Consider how easy would it be to replace you. Sure, we are all unique and irreplaceable for that reason but if the company needed to find someone with your balance of skills and experience, how easy would that be? How many people out there looking for a job, who could conceivably fulfil your role? Hopefully, the answer isn’t too many and this is something to bear in mind.
Understand HR budgets
While it might be difficult to know the exact ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the HR budget for your company, it never hurts to do a little research. HR has the task of balancing the whole organisation from a cost viewpoint and incorporating all the additional costs that the company might have. These might include the cost of recruitment advertising, agency fees, temporary help, and skill testing for existing employees. They may look at training and development costs alongside the actual pay and benefits received by staff.
While you can’t know what everyone gets paid, you can have some idea about HR budgets, and this can help with deciding on a figure to aim for in your negotiations.
Plan with the right timing
Timing is critical when considering how to negotiate salary changes. You don’t want to just walk up to your boss and ask for a raise. Instead, you want to make sure they can fully consider your proposal.
One example of a good time is during the performance management process, whether annually or bi-annually. A time when the company is most aware of your value to the company and will have had that chat with HR about the budgets for the coming year. During this time pay reviews are most often carried out anyway so they can make an excellent opportunity to talk about yours.
Study your employee handbook – does it detail when pay raise negotiations usually take place? Or when the company regularly looks at staff wages? Some companies have a stable process laid out that means you can only talk about pay raises at certain times of the year. For example, at the end of the company’s financial year. Know this before you approach the subject and make sure your timing is right.
Identify the decision maker
In most companies, your line manager is the person to approach about a pay raise, but they may not be the final decision maker. It could be their boss, someone in HR or the owner of the company. Identifying the decision maker can help you frame your request in a way that might most appeal to them.
The owner is most interested in the profitability of the company while a manager might focus more on the smooth running of their department as well as profits. HR tend to look at the bigger picture and need to have highlighted where you fit into this.
Communicate your proposal
When you prepare your proposal, you also need to tie this into why you are worth it. Successful negotiations for a pay raise are always based on your merit, not just because the calendar says you are due for an annual raise. No-one cares if the cost of food is increasing, the car needs replacing or any of those personal reasons for needing more money.
Instead, focus on those accomplishments and achievements that you have researched during the earlier phase of the process. Look at what you have ‘bought to the table’ and how it has helped your team and the organisation. You need to build a watertight case that includes specific facts, examples, and events that back up what you have to say.
Lay grounds for negotiations
It’s nice to think that your employer will value you enough to accept your pay raise request, give you what you want, and life will go on. But this isn’t the reality in most cases. Businesses want to get the most from every employee and only want to award pay raises if they are merited. Therefore, you should lay the ground for salary negotiation when you make your proposal to acknowledge this doesn’t have to be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ situation.
You need to have clear in your mind what is an acceptable offer and what isn’t. Also, consider alternative compensation – you may not get the full raise you want but what about extra benefits added? Or changes to your working life that might benefit you in other ways? Be ready to listen to whatever they have to offer and consider it thoroughly.
During the negotiations
During negotiations, it is important to remember this isn’t a combat situation – you against your manager or the HR department. It is a discussion between colleagues and a partnership that is your role in the company. Aim for a friendly but assertive mindset and approach that will help you handle the unexpected.
One old tip that still holds value is – do not be the first to name a number. Sure, your boss might try and squeeze a figure from you but stay guarded. At the most, consider giving some range figures from highest to lowest but never the very least you would accept.
Also, don’t feel pressured into accepting an offer straight away. Give yourself some time to go away and think and arrange a follow-up meeting. You may come away and have an idea that could boost your case. Or you might realise a benefit on offer is more valuable to you than the raise itself. Don’t make rash decisions but take time to consider everything carefully.
Finally, make use of the pause during the negotiations. When someone makes an offer or say something, don’t feel compelled to answer it immediately. Instead, give it a moment, consider the options and then respond. That way you don’t make a hasty decision or say something you might later regret.
Have a contingency plan
You should also consider what you are going to do if the answer to your question is a flat-out no. Do you want to remain with the company or does the refusal make you feel undervalued? Does your financial position mean that more money is deal breaker?
It helps to plan and have some ideas on what you will do if you get the worst outcome from your negotiations. You can even start talking with recruiters as part of your research and see what kind of offers are available. You don’t need to commit to anything, but you will have a course of action for every scenario, and then you won’t get any nasty surprises.
Learning how to ask for a raise is one of the most significant challenges for many people. We often feel awkward talking about achievements or skills and don’t like to seem as if we are boasting. But the reality is that if you want the pay raise, you need to prepare thoroughly and be armed with plenty of fact-based company-centric information. You need to show them why you are so talented, what you bring to the business and why you are worth that pay raise that you are asking for. And hopefully, you will get it!