Four Tips on How – and When – to Request for a Salary Increase
Are you ready to request for a salary increase?
It might well be that you are due one – in the UK, the national salary surveys from the CIPD reveal how only 58% of public sector companies gave annual pay rises to employees in 2016 when before the financial crisis the figure stood at 73%.
Since purse strings have been tightened in many organizations across the globe, you need to know how and when to seek a raise. In this guide, you’ll receive four of the most important salary increase tips to arm yourself with.
These will reveal:
- How having a realistic sum in mind can help your request succeed.
- How you need to build a strong case of added value before you pop the question.
- Why timing your request right can make or break your chances of a raise.
- How preparing for the answer will help you to prepare and stay calm.
So, keep reading to guarantee you are in for a pay rise this year.
#1: HAVE A SUM IN MIND AND MAKE SURE IT’S REALISTIC
The most important thing about asking for a raise is to be specific about what you want. You can’t just walk to your boss and go “I’d want a raise”.
Your boss might well answer to you by asking “How much?” and if you don’t know what to respond to this, you might not end up with a raise you wanted or deserved.
The secret to any negotiation – and that what salary discussions are – is to know what your desired outcome is.
If you don’t have objectives, it won’t be easy to have a positive outcome. You won’t really even know what a positive outcome looks like.
Therefore, before you pop the big question, you need to have an idea what your ideal raise would look like. You need to have a salary figure in mind that would satisfy you and represent your current responsibilities more.
What you don’t want to do, however, is to take having a figure in mind the wrong way. You shouldn’t think the positive outcome is to have as much as possible. We would all love to have $500k more but is that really a realistic increase to your salary? Does it even represent the work you do?
As much as you need to have a salary figure in mind, you also need to ensure this figure is realistic and truly represents the value you do.
This doesn’t mean selling yourself short – but if you want a raise, you have to be able to justify why you are worth it.
If you can show on paper why your boss should pay you $1 million, then go ahead and do it. But if you can’t, you want to ask for a raise that’s closer to the value you add to the company.
So, how can you pick a realistic figure?
How do you ensure you aren’t asking for something unattainable while also ensuring you aren’t asking for too little?
Before you walk into the negotiating room, you need to conduct research.
To determine what you should earn, you should take the following steps:
- List your current tasks and responsibilities. Look at your job contract and write down the tasks and responsibilities you are required to do under your current contract. Underneath, list the tasks and responsibilities you are doing that are not part of your current job description – the additional value you add to the company.
- Research the industry and role averages. Examine what industry averages are and what people in your position earn on average. You can find salary information on websites such as salary.com, totaljobs.com and glassdoor.com. Focus your search on similar job titles, educational background, industry and geographical location.
These two should give you a better idea of how much additional value you are adding to the company, as well as what people doing similar tasks are earning.
If you find that you’re already being paid a lot more than the industry average without the additional tasks, you might have a harder time negotiating an increase.
On the other hand, if your current salary is below the average and you are doing many additional things for the company, you are in a strong position to ask a lot more.
#2: BUILD A STRONG CASE FOR THE EXTRA VALUE YOU ADD TO THE COMPANY
As mentioned above, you need to figure out what additional value you are adding.
Asking for a salary increase must always be about the value you provide to the organization and not based on a personal need or desire.
You might need the extra money to support the family or you may not have received a pay rise for ten years but unless you are also adding more value to the organization, none of that matters.
You shouldn’t ever consider asking about a salary increase until you are able to prove you are doing more for the organization than what is expected of you.
Look at the list you wrote down about your tasks and responsibilities.
Is the additional work section empty?
Then you are wasting your time seeking a raise.
If it’s full of little things you do, then you have a stronger case for getting extra.
The simplest and the most effective tip for getting a pay rise is this: do more for your organization. How can you do this? You can add more value to your organization in a number of different ways and here are some of the most obvious examples:
|Start a side project||Use any free time you have to create a project that could help your team or the company. This could be researching better software options, coding your own system or coming up with better practices for doing tasks.|
|Help your colleagues||Don’t wait to be asked for help but be proactive around the office. Check if your colleagues need help and volunteer to be part of their projects and teams – don’t push too hard, however.|
|Take on extra responsibilities||You also don’t have to wait to be offered to take on more responsibility. Offer your services and check with the manager if they would have further roles and tasks for you.|
|Provide more value for customers||You can always add more value by looking after your clients. A positive review from clients can help your boss to notice how valuable you are to the team. So, make sure you go above and beyond to keeping them happy.|
As you start creating more value around the organization, you need to start documenting it.
You need tangible evidence to show to your boss that your actions are providing the company with more (profits, clients, productivity, etc.) – it’s much harder to say ‘no’ to your salary request when it’s clear how much effort and added value you are bringing to the table.
You, essentially, need to build a portfolio of the extra work and value.
This simply means creating a list of the additional responsibilities and projects you are doing – a sort of resume of additional value.
But instead of just having a folder full of things you are doing, you also need to show how these actions are adding value.
Therefore, you want to include tangible figures to present.
When you quantify your achievements, you make the effort seem a bit more real.
How can you do this?
You want to show how much your side project has increased sales, for example. You can show how many new clients you’ve brought or how much your productivity has increased in the past two months. You want to put figures behind those achievements.
It’s important to gather data and to monitor what your actions mean for the organization.
You can do this on your own or talk about performance with your manager or the accounting team, for instance.
The key is to be honest about the figures and give credit where credit is due – don’t take all the credit for improving sales if the whole team was behind the percentage rise.
#3: BE AWARE OF THE COMPANY’S SITUATION AND FOCUS ON YOUR TIMING
Timing is highly important to a successful salary request.
You need to find the right time for popping the question – you can both hinder and improve your chances of landing a raise simply by choosing the wrong or the right time to ask.
The first thing to understand about timing is the fact that your boss might love to give you a salary increase put they simply can’t do it. This can be down to:
- The company not being financially able to afford a pay rise.
- The company having policies in place that prevent salary negotiations outside of a specific period in time, for instance.
Therefore, it’s important to conduct research to understand whether those two factors could play a role in the negotiations.
First, you should check with your company’s employee handbook or HR department what the usual route to salary negotiations is. Is it allowed to talk about salary increase outside the usual performance review cycle, for example?
If not, then you simply have to wait for the review.
Speaking of the review, you should be aware of when this takes place. You might feel comfortable waiting for the review or you might want to discuss the issue before the review – or right after it.
More importantly, you have to research the company’s financial situation. A company with a poor financial health might not find it possible to raise employee salaries. It also won’t look professional and considerate for you to ask for a raise right when the company has made a huge loss or had to lay off people – therefore, you must pay attention to this issue.
You can find out more by checking out the company’s financial statements, which are often partly public – especially if the company is trading in the stock market.
You should also read any newspaper reports about the company and just look around you – are they hiring or letting people go?
The better the company’s financial situation the more likely you are of getting a raise.
Overall, you should understand the company’s fiscal year.
It’s often much easier to ask for a raise at the start of the fiscal year rather than at the end. If the company receives any grants or public subsidies, you might also want to ask for a raise as the funding is rolling in rather than when it is already over.
Now, there is one more element to timing. You don’t want to start negotiating a salary increase right at the busiest and most stressful of times.
It’s important to consider what your boss is feeling like – is there many things happening right now?
A stressed and over-worked boss might not feel like talking about your salary.
So, don’t be inconsiderate with your timing. Organize the meeting when your boss has the time to talk about it. Interestingly, according to a survey, Wednesday is the best time to talk about salary with your boss (and avoid Mondays and Fridays)!
#4: STAY CALM AND PREPARE FOR DIFFERENT RESULTS
Speaking of timing, you should always pop the question face-to-face. Salary requests are not something you should discuss over the phone or in an email. When you’ve taken the above tips on board, you need to arrange a meeting with your boss to talk about your performance and salary needs.
You don’t have to tell what the meeting is about directly but you shouldn’t lie about it either – it’s a good idea to ask the boss for a meeting to “discuss your performance in the company and the road going forward”, for example.
Before the meeting takes place, you ought to consider the different possible outcomes. There are essentially two answers to a salary request but these two can also manifest in different ways:
The best outcome for you is that your boss agrees with you. You might be able to get just what you asked for or fall slightly short. If you don’t get quite what you wanted, you have to think whether you are satisfied with the amount you’re being offered or not.
If not, you have the option to negotiate it higher, ask for other benefits or simply discuss when another raise might be possible. You can always also consider starting a job search and find a role that you’d feel more comfortable with.
On the other hand, your boss might say ‘no’ altogether. It’s important to do two things in this scenario:
- Listen to your boss’ reasoning and see if you understand where they are coming from. You want the boss to explain to you why a raise is not possible and then take this feedback on board. It’s imperative to understand whether it is about internal company issues, such as finances, or if your boss thinks your performance doesn’t warrant a raise.
- Discuss the future. After you understand the reasoning, you should talk about the future. It’s important to know that a ‘no’ doesn’t have to mean ‘no’ forever. Your boss should be open with you in terms of what kind of performance they expect to see in order to increase your salary or whether the organization will be financially able to provide a raise within the next year, for example.
The above two issues should help you understand your options better.
If you feel like the boss doesn’t see a raise possible in a near future even if you improve your performance, you might want to start thinking about other options.
On the other hand, perhaps you receive a ‘no’ now but the boss is very positive about giving you a raise in a few months and you are happy to wait.
Remember you don’t have to decide immediately – just take your time but make sure to have those conversations.
When you are having these discussions, it’s crucial to keep your nerves and leave your emotions outside the negotiating room. You need to be confident, trust your own case, but also respect what your boss has to say.
If you’re feeling nervous before the meeting, you should consider the following tips:
Don’t forget that you might be offered (or you can request) other benefits aside from a salary increase. Perhaps the ability to work from home or simply receiving a one-off bonus would be enough to make you feel happier at work.
Above all, remember not to give an ultimatum even if you aren’t willing to stay after a rejection.
You don’t want to burn bridges by making it all about the pay – you just need to explain you feel the path to better career progression in the company doesn’t match what you are looking for.
THE BOTTOM LINE OF WHEN AND HOW TO REQUEST FOR A SALARY INCREASE
Do you hate the thought of asking for a raise? Did the above make you feel uneasy?
You wouldn’t be alone – according to a totaljobs.com survey, 67% of employees don’t feel comfortable seeking for a raise.
It’s not an easy topic to talk about but it’s definitely worth it as wages have been stagnating and your input can be much more valuable to the organization than you think.
It’s important to do research before you start requesting for a salary increase. You want to ensure you are being reasonable with your request – that you know what your value is and that you’re aware of the company’s ability to match this.
You also need to be prepared for the outcomes and be able to make a decision based on the answers you’re given.
If your organization doesn’t offer automatic salary increase negotiations, you need to take the initiative.
Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your work and feel appropriately rewarded than slave away?
So, don’t be afraid to look at the work you do and compare it what you are receiving.
If there’s no alignment, use the above four tips to know just when and how you can pop the question.