Salary isn't the only key factor in job satisfaction, but that doesn't mean it's not important.
While it's true that 9 out of 10 people say they'll earn less money to do more meaningful work, and countless candidates are now prioritising things like schedule flexibility and remote working overpay, you still want to make sure you're paid what you're worth.
Your salary as an employee should reflect the responsibilities you take on in your career and fairly compensate you for your effort.
If you feel your current role requires you to go above and beyond your job description, you may also be eligible for a higher pay rate.
Of course, even if you deserve to be paid more, negotiating a higher salary with your manager can be nerve-wracking. Deciding what approach to take, how much to ask for, and even how you're going to prove your value is complex.
Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your chances of a positive conversation when the time comes to ask for a pay rise.
Should You Ask for a Pay Rise?
The first step in successfully asking for a pay rise is looking honestly at your situation and asking whether you actually deserve more money.
In today's fast-paced environment, it's easy for managers and business leaders to assign more work and responsibilities to their staff but forget to complement these new requests with the right pay rate. This means if you think you deserve to earn more, you need to prepare a business case and take it to your manager.
Simply asking for a pay rise because your bills are increasing or you'd like to save more cash aside for an upcoming expense isn't enough. You need to convince your employer you're worth the extra rewards; so, what evidence do you have to that effect?
Start by looking at things like your performance reviews and feedback from managers and supervisors in your business. Have you been earning consistently positive responses to your work for the last several months?
Other points to consider when determining if you deserve a pay rise include:
Your Current Responsibilities And Job Description
When you were offered your current job, you agreed to a specific pay rate for a certain selection of duties and responsibilities. If your job description has changed over the years, forcing you to take on new tasks and challenges, you may be eligible for higher pay.
Make a list of all the tasks you do that weren't included in your initial job description. Ask yourself whether they deserve additional compensation or whether they're a natural part of the job that might not have been mentioned in your interview.
For instance, your job description might not say you need to respond to emails from your colleagues, but you don't necessarily deserve a higher rate of pay for doing this.
The Average Salary For Someone In Your Position
Before you sit down with your manager and ask for a raise, you need to know what similar people in your industry are paid for the same role. It will help you determine whether you're underpaid and how much you should be asking for.
There are a number of places you can look for insights into an average rate of pay. Many job sites have salary checkers, and you can also look at the Bureau of Labour Statistics. One excellent source of information is a specialist recruitment company like ourselves.
A recruitment company works with a number of companies and professionals in your industry every day. They're constantly keeping up-to-date with the most common salary ranges for people in various positions.
Checking government websites for information on national pay rates can sometimes be helpful for certain roles too.
In addition, here at Lucy Walker Recruitment, we also provide our own workplace survey, which includes salary packages and benefits.
The Last Time You Got a Pay Rise
Depending on where you are in the world, certain government guidelines require employers to give their staff a pay rise on a consistent basis. In the UK, employers aren't legally required to offer a salary increase annually.
However, most employers will regularly increase staff pay, particularly with changes in inflation, to ensure they can remain competitive. Few companies will want to fall behind other leading organisations when it comes to offering the right pay rate, particularly as talent grows increasingly difficult to find.
If you haven't had an increase in your pay for over a year and are concerned you might be getting less than you're worth, consider discussing this with your employer. You may discover a business-wide salary update is already in the works.
Preparing to Ask for a Pay Rise: Where to Begin
Preparation is key when asking for a pay rise.
Examining whether you deserve a pay rise is a good way to get started. While you're looking at your performance in the last few months and exploring the average salary for people in your position, make sure you collect plenty of evidence you can take with you into your conversation.
Think of asking for a pay rise like giving a presentation to your employer on why they should hire someone (you) for a specific salary.
Essentially, you need to present evidence to back up your request in the form of:
- Accomplishments: Showcasing your achievements, positive feedback, and anything that highlights your value will make it more likely you'll get a good response.
- Data: Information about the changing pay rates in the industry can help your employer see why paying you more is fair.
Aside from preparing the right information, you'll also need to choose the best time to ask for a pay rise and organise a meeting to present your case.
When Is The Best Time To Ask For A Payrise?
Getting the timing right is crucial when discussing salary changes.
Clearly, it wouldn't make sense to approach your manager about a pay rise when the company is going through financial strain or just after you've had a negative performance review.
However, during an annual performance review, if you get a lot of positive comments, you can consider asking for a pay increase. This is usually a review conducted at the end of the company's financial year when they're planning the budget for the year ahead.
In the industry, the best times to ask for a pay rise include:
- After the successful completion of an important project
- When your employer announces positive changes for the company
- When you're asked to take on more responsibility by a manager
- If your current contract is ending and your employer wants to renew it
- Following a positive review or great feedback from your manager
The worst time to ask for a pay rise include:
- Following a major loss or poor financial results
- After the company has announced a recruitment freeze
- During a particularly busy time in your manager's schedule
Where Should You Talk About Salary (Video Call or In-Person)
A discussion about salary isn't something you should have over email or in your company's Slack channel. Though it's difficult to talk about money with your manager and approaching the subject in person can seem daunting, it's important to be face-to-face.
It's much harder for your manager to say "no" to you if you're talking face-to-face. Additionally, broaching the subject in person shows you're serious.
The way you broach the topic of changing or upgrading your salary will usually depend on the kind of relationship you have with a manager. While raising the subject informally might get results for some, most managers will prefer a formal approach.
Don't wait until your manager is taking a break at the coffee machine and jump in. Instead, give your request the status and time it deserves. Send a request for a face-to-face meeting to your manager, letting them know you'd like to discuss your salary.
Giving your manager an insight into what the discussion is about is useful because it ensures they can pass you onto the right person if they're not the individual you need to speak with.
What to Say in a Salary Meeting?
Once you've arranged for a face-to-face or video-based meeting with your manager, it's time to prepare. While you should always broach salary conversations face-to-face, you should still have notes written down to help you structure your argument.
Make sure you have all the crucial information you need to support your requests available. This includes any [Sector] research you have about current salaries and evidence of your recent accomplishments. You can even organise these points into slides or share them with your manager in a document before the conversation.
Make sure you're dressed appropriately for the meeting, even if you're only meeting over video. A professional appearance will remind your manager of the quality employee you are.
When the meeting begins, don't just dive straight into your request. Instead, thank your manager for their time and express how much you love the job and the opportunities you've been given to pursue your [Sector] career.
- Introduce evidence of your achievements: Highlight the things you've accomplished in the last few months. Pay close attention to the most recent accomplishments, as these are more likely to have an emotional impact on your manager. You can also reference older accomplishments, but generally, it's best to go back no further than a year.
- Explain how you plan to contribute to the future: Don't just focus on what you've done in the past; highlight how you're currently working on improving your value for the future. Address the work you've been doing to improve your skills and how you embody the company's value in your work. Discuss the extra responsibilities you've been taking on and your commitment to the business.
- Reference your salary research: Using the information you've collected about salaries in your industry with your recruitment agency, address what kind of salary you think you deserve. Provide a range for your employer to work with, rather than a specific number, as this will help them to feel they have more control.
- Thank the manager again: Once again, thank your manager for their time, and re-affirm how much you value being part of the team. At the same time, acknowledge that you think it's important you're getting paid for the quality of work you provide.
How to Ask for a Pay Rise (and Get it)
Using the structure above, you should have everything you need to present your argument as effectively as possible. The key to success is being as clear as possible.
Don't use soft language like "I'm hoping for" or "maybe you could". Instead, make it very clear what you want from your manager. For instance, your request might sound something like this:
First of all, I'd like to thank you for meeting with me today. I appreciate your time and understand how hectic your schedule can be. I'm very thankful for the incredible opportunity you've given me to thrive in the [Sector] sector and appreciate your guidance these last few years.
However, I believe now is the right time to discuss my position with you and the salary this position requires. In the last year, I've been a fundamental part of the team, helping to achieve exceptional results on a number of projects.
In [this example], I led my team to achieve a rapid increase in sales which led to a fantastic [percentage] profit for the business. You can see the positive feedback from my supervisor in this [letter/email].
Over the last year, I've also taken on a number of new challenges to help the business grow, including mentoring my peers and taking on additional clients.
Going forward, I'm working on increasing my performance in [area] and [area], and I am currently undergoing training to increase my skills.
As [sector role], I'm clearly excelling in my position and in the open market, my worth is [number], which is [percentage] greater than my current pay. I'd like to discuss how we can reduce this gap.
Look at the conversation from your manager's perspective. The company needs to be convinced that the business will get a solid return on investment if they spend more money on you. A manager will need to see evidence of the value you bring to the organisation.
Highlighting the things you've accomplished in terms of percentages and numbers is a great way to help your manager calculate your worth.
Dealing With Nerves When Asking for a Pay Increase
Around 67% of employees say they don't feel comfortable asking for a pay rise, and 31% say they don't have the confidence to broach the subject.
However, confidence is essential when asking for more money from your manager. If you don't believe you deserve the pay increase, they won't believe it either.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can boost your confidence in time for this important conversation, such as:
- Doing your homework: Researching your situation and collecting as much information as possible about [Sector] salaries, your accomplishments, and your value will give you more confidence. The right amount of research also ensures you're equipped to handle any questions your manager might bring up during the conversation.
- Mastering your body language: Practice in front of a mirror or a friend to get your body language right. Don't tap your foot or fidget during the conversation. Sit up straight to project confidence and make eye contact. Speak politely and try to smile from time to time to create a friendlier atmosphere.
- Dress correctly: You may need to wear your uniform or a specific style of dress if you're going to be having this meeting during work hours. However, you can take extra steps with your outfit to make you feel more confident.
- Practice negotiating: Practice the salary discussion with your friends or family members, making sure you're clear and consistent with your requests. Practising the negotiation process will make it easier to avoid simply accepting anything your manager offers, even if their suggestion is much lower than what you know you deserve.
- Offer a range: Offering a range for your employer, like a 10-20% salary increase, gives them something to work with and makes it look like you're being reasonable. Just make sure the lowest number your employer can offer is still something you're happy with when choosing your range.
- Speak to your recruitment company: Having a professional [sector] recruitment company ready and waiting to help you find better job opportunities can give you extra confidence. If you know you can find other [Sector] roles if this one doesn't work out for you, you're less likely to feel concerned about the discussion going poorly.
Whatever happens, think very carefully before telling your manager you're going to leave if you don't get the pay you ask for. You need to be prepared to see through any threat you make, or your credibility will go through the floor.
What to Do After a Salary Conversation
When your salary conversation comes to an end, and you thank your manager for their time, a number of scenarios might happen.
Commonly your manager might not be the final decision maker depending on the size of your organisation, so be prepared; this might be stage one of the conversation.
If the conversation went well, and you got what you asked for, it's worth sending an additional email to your employer after the meeting saying thank you. This demonstrates your appreciation of the company and helps to strengthen the relationship you have with your manager.
Alternatively, if your pay rise request is turned down, you should still thank your manager at the end of the meeting, but you'll need to consider your next step.
If you want to stay with the company, the best option might be to ask your manager when it might be a better time for them to discuss a potential pay increase with you. If your business is currently over budget, you might need to be patient and come back at a different time.
If your employer doesn't think your performance warrants a pay increase, ask them for extra clarity. Find out what you need to do to be worthy of a pay increase. You can then work on setting goals and set a time when you can review your performance and your salary later.
If your manager won't give you a pay rise, and they also have no clear reason as to why, you might need to consider changing jobs. This is when you reach out to your recruitment partner and start looking into opportunities where you will be paid what you're worth.
Speaking to your recruiter will allow you to start joining talent pipelines and getting your CV out to the right companies before you leave your current employer.
Your recruitment provider can also advise how to resign from your position with grace and dignity so you don't burn any bridges.
Contact one of our team members today if you think it's time to pursue a better salary in a different role.