How to successfully negotiate a pay rise
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The company's (financial) situation
- One thing should be clear: if you have joined the company only recently, you shouldn't make big demands too soon. A pay rise needs to be earned. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 6 months after joining a new company before you bringing up the issue of pay.
- To have any hope of a pay rise you must first check whether your company is in good financial shape. Turnover, growth, development potential ... all these pieces of information are crucially important.
- Check your market value: look for salary lists to find out what people of your age and with your professional experience earn on average in the same region. Salary checks are frequently offered in newspapers and on the Internet. Rates agreed by collective bargaining provide further clues.
- Expect a pay rise of, on average, somewhere between 5 and 15 percent.
The right moment for the discussion
- The yearly appraisal interview is a good opportunity of bringing up the subject of a pay rise. The only problem: you are not the only one with this issue. Appraisal interviews usually take place at the start or the end of the year. Outside this period, your inquiry will probably be paid more attention (because it is atypical) and the raise might be higher.
- When changing roles within the company or expanding your scope of responsibility. You will be in a better position to justify your request for a pay rise by listing your new tasks.
Selecting the right person to talk to
Take the issue to your line manager. That is the person who will make the final decision, albeit not on their own, but you will definitely not get a raise without their approval. Out of everybody, your line manager is best placed to evaluate your work and assess your worth.
Preparation for the salary negotiation
- Perform a little simulation exercise: plan your arguments and consider how the other party might respond.
- For instance, write down examples proving how useful you are to the company.
- State how much your results are worth in figures.
- Compile a list of all the new tasks that could be assigned to you.
- Convert what you wish to earn per month into a yearly salary. Pay negotiations are usually about the gross yearly salary.
During the negotiation
- Guideline: start by speaking about the contributions you have made to the company's success and about your achievements to date. Subsequently, present your objectives for the future. Then bring up the subject of pay without insisting on a precise amount (it is common to negotiate about a salary range or a mixture of fixed pay plus bonus or commission).
- Demeanour and speaking style: go into the meeting confident of success. Act positive from the start and – most importantly – smile! That will demonstrate your motivation. Remain persistent without becoming aggressive. Enter into dialogue: be sure you’re really listening to what your boss is saying, and to their reasoning.
Mistakes you should avoid
- Avoid getting into a conflict situation.
- Avoid at all cost mentioning a concrete salary figure. Wait for your line manager to state an amount.
- Don't make any comments that might sound threatening: "If I don't get a pay rise, I'll leave." Should you not go through with your threat if it comes down to it, you will have lost your credibility.
- Under no circumstances should you make comparisons with other employees. In doing so you would be criticising your manager's mode of operation.
What to do if the pay rise is refused
- Try to negotiate other benefits: additional holiday, individually negotiated working hours, a company car...
- Make it clear that you would like to take on more responsibility and new tasks. Your manager's response might tell you what you are worth to them. You can have another go at addressing the issue of a pay rise in a year or two.
- If nothing changes in the next 6-12 months, it is up to you whether you want to stay or leave.
Work & Money Editor