3 Simple Steps to Get the Pay Rise You Deserve (…and 2 blunders to avoid) | Tara Hamilton Howard

Is the fear and anxiety of asking for a pay rise holding you back? Do you not feel confident enough to ask for what you deserve?

Why is that?

Part of the reason is we don’t actually know what we are worth, and most of the time we undervalue ourselves.

What’s more, even if we do realise our value and then ask for it, we often suffer consequences such as people finding us bossy, or uncompromising, or even difficult. They don’t want to work with us. Yet it’s often not the same for men…

But you work hard. You’re contributing to the success of the company. Shouldn’t your boss just know this and compensate you accordingly?

In a perfect world, the answer is yes…BUT – in reality, it’s not so simple.

Women are 37% more likely to experience workplace anxiety than men when negotiating a pay rise, according to a report from RADA in Business.

Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise—and when women do ask, we typically request 30% less than men do!

For many, the fear and anxiety that surrounds asking for a pay rise is so great, women will keep putting it off. But, if you don’t take the initiative to seek a pay rise, chances are, it won’t happen. You’ll continue to feel undervalued for your contribution, and the resentment you may feel will grow.

Following these 3 simple steps can help you to let go of your fear and anxiety, build up the confidence you need to win you the pay rise you deserve.

Step 1:  The Build Up – How to Quantify Your Value to the Company

Before you even set the meeting to ask for your pay rise, you need to work on building the perfect foundation. You can’t assume your boss will always know what you’re doing to meet your performance goals or to contribute to moving the company forward.

Don’t be afraid to ‘toot your own horn’. It’s important to regularly update your employer on what you are doing, and how you are adding value to the company.

Document Your Achievements

When it comes time to ask for your pay rise, it may be difficult to remember all the big, and little, things that you have done/contributed/achieved that would help build a good case for you getting your pay raise.

Keep a file folder in your desk and each year fill it with the following:

  • An on-going list of achievements
  • Letters of recognition
  • Printed emails of acknowledgement from your employer, co-workers, clients etc.

Keep a running list (in the same folder) of projects and programs you are working on, or have worked on, and how they have added value to the company, and that you think are rise-worthy.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly these will add up. Plus, for you, it can help boost your confidence by validating how you have contributed to the success of the company.

When you go to meet with your boss to discuss your raise, remember to print out a summary of your biggest accomplishments from your file, so you can refer to them during your discussions.

Step 2:  Do Your Research – How to Quantify Your Value in the Market Place

In addition to your own achievements, you want to have facts and figures about what other jobs, similar to yours, are paying, and how they compare to you.  Include performance and market data as well.

When doing your research, you want to find out your job’s worth in the market place, to figure out if you’re being compensated fairly.  If not, the data will help determine how much of a pay raise to ask for.

Consider searching the following sites for salary guidance:

Step 3:  The Dress Rehearsal – Preparing for your Meeting

It’s not what you say – but how you say it. Present your case with as much confidence as possible. To help you go into your meeting feeling prepared and confident consider creating a script and then… practice, practice, practice!!

When creating your script, follow this basic structure to include the following:

  • Explain why you love your job and how you are committed to helping your company grow
  • Articulate your successes – you can refer back to Step1 for this
  • Quantify the results of your successes – for example if you’ve led a team, how you’ve grown as a leader
  • Outline ways you’re willing to take on more responsibility and the new skills you want to acquire
  • Suggest ways you would like to keep working hard for the organization and the goals you’d like to help the company reach

Practice your script again and again. Do it in front of a mirror. Practice it in front of a trusted friend. This may seem tedious, but it will help build your confidence.

Avoid getting emotional or angry – try to be as neutral as you can.  If you find yourself starting to get charged up, go back to your script and shift your focus back to the data and numbers that you prepared.

2 Things To Avoid When Asking For a Pay Rise:

  1. Timing is everything! If your company has just announced budget cuts or your boss has a ton on their plate, and is in a foul mood, or a project you were working on went wrong – these are times when it would NOT be right to ask for your pay rise meeting.
  2. Don’t make it personal. If some unexpected expenses have come up, or you have plans to buy a new house, or upgrade your car, keep this to yourself. The focus should be on the value you bring to the company and what you’re worth in the market place.

If More Money Isn’t an Option – Consider Other Compensation

Be realistic in your expectations. Some studies show that you have less than a 50 percent chance of getting a pay rise at your current place of employment, but don’t let this discourage you.

If your boss denies your request for a raise, depending on why you were denied, all is not lost.

If there are specific performance targets they want you to meet before being considered for a pay rise, write down exactly what you need to do and what the expectations are. Ask for a clear date on when you can schedule a follow up meeting to revisit the issue – three months from now, six months etc.

Make sure to get this in writing! Send your boss a follow up email after your meeting, or prepare a one-page document, with all the details that both you and your boss sign. Make sure the details are specific and can’t be left open to interpretation, including the compensation you’re seeking (eg x% pay increase, $x bonus, flexible workings hours and so on) once you achieve those targets!

If it’s ‘not in the budget’ or a ‘no, for now’, there are other perks or opportunities you can focus on, such as negotiating for:

  • The option to work from home
  • Flexible hours
  • A larger office
  • Administrative help
  • Additional vacation days
  • A one-time bonus
  • Reimbursement for a coaching course, or conference you can attend, to further improve your skills – skills that will help benefit the company (courses and conferences can also offer excellent networking opportunities)

Another option to consider is to negotiate a change in title. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you negotiate a SASSy new title, it will look better on your CV, and may help put you in a better position should you go to other companies.

You’ve done your job well. You’ve put in the hours. You know you’re worth it. Now, have the confidence to go and get it! A pay rise is in your future!


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