No-one likes to talk about money, especially when you’re asking for more. Requesting a payrise can seem daunting but it’s important to ask at the right time and feel confident that you have enough evidence to back up your request. Our MD, Om Ruparel, shared his views with The Times Online this week;
News that, on average, the bosses of FTSE 100 companies earn 183 times as much as typical British workers will have sickened many readers whose pay falls far short of the fat cats’ £4.96 million a year. Still, if you don’t think you are paid enough, careers experts stress that you should ask for a raise. You might get one, or valuable alternative benefits. Even if you don’t, it is a chance to highlight the good work you are doing and to improve your prospects.
Andy Sumner, managing director of Monster.co.uk, the jobs website, says: “Many people think that switching jobs is the best route to negotiating a pay rise. However, being successful in your role can put you in a stronger position. Most companies will do what they can to keep good people as the cost in time, recruitment fees and the handover process make losing a valued employee bad news. What’s vital is to approach this conversation thoughtfully: consider timing, prepare in advance, have a figure in mind but be ready to negotiate.”
If you are still feeling uncomfortable about it, Om Ruparel, of Recruitmentology, the talent agency, points out: “It’s rare that your company will simply offer you a pay rise, so you need to be brave enough to ask for one.”
1. Find the right time to ask
You can ask for a pay rise at any point, but Mr Sumner says that certain times are naturally more conducive to success. “For example, at your performance review, or at the end of the calendar or financial year. These are times when companies take stock of what they have achieved against what they forecast and provide a natural chance for you to discuss your future and pay if you have contributed to a successful period for the business.”
Mr Sumner says: “Book in at least half an hour with your boss so you have their undivided attention. Afternoons are often better as the stress of the morning will have disappeared. It’s best not to set the meeting up as a discussion over pay as they may try and put it off – just say you need to chat about a few things.”
Mr Ruparel suggests: “A mid-week lunch outside the office is ideal as it is in a neutral environment and sets a tone for the meeting. It also lessens the chance of your professional chat turning into a heated dispute.”
2. Do your homework
Allow plenty of time to prepare your case before meeting. Mr Sumner says “The stronger your case, the better chance you have. However well you feel your boss knows your work, they may not be actively aware of your wider reputation, profile or ability to add value. If you are on good terms with a manager in another department, you may want to ask if they could email your boss to tell them how impressed they are with your recent work. Also ensure that you dress for the part – make it easy for your boss to imagine you as a more senior figure.”
You should do some general market research so that the pay rise you request is realistic. Mr Ruparel says: “Go online and research as if you were looking for a new job. Look at what other companies are offering for candidates at your level. This should be done for both your specific industry and your field as a whole.”
While you are preparing for your meeting it is obviously important to stay on your boss’s good side. Mr Ruparel says: “Of course, it can’t be outright bribery, but there is no harm in bringing your boss a coffee in the morning or occasionally treating them to lunch. Ultimately, the outcome of your plea is in their hands, so you need them to like you. But be careful not to overdo it – at the risk of seeming needy or winding up your colleagues.”
4. Make your case
During the big meeting itself it pays to be ultra-professional. Mr Sumner advises: “Pretend it is a job interview and deploy as many interview techniques as possible. For example, speak deliberately and not too fast, using confident hand gestures. Don’t giggle nervously or allow your gaze to wander.”
He adds: “Begin the meeting by mentioning a recent project that you have completed successfully. This will immediately put you in their good books. Then present a clear case; saying you want more money because a specific colleague gets more isn’t going to cut it. The more certain you are of what you want to achieve and the better you can present your value, the higher your chances of achieving the pay rise that you’re looking for.”
Mr Ruparel says: “You need to show them what you have done and how this has helped the company. Refer back to the notes you made in your last performance review. You should always set and agree upon targets with your manager that are to be reviewed at the next meeting. It is good to keep a note of this anyway and also gives you something tangible to base your request on. It is very hard to argue with facts.”
5. Aim high
As with any negotiation, always ask for more than you expect to get, but don’t go too high or you may be seen as arrogant. Let the company know that you are willing to take on more responsibility for the additional money.
Mr Sumner says: “It is unlikely you will get a definite answer in this meeting as your boss will probably ask colleagues or superiors for input. The bigger the organisation, the longer the process can take – ask to be kept up to date with progress, though.
“Also, expect some resistance and be willing to fight your corner – but don’t overdo it. As part of your strategy, consider giving your boss a set period in which to consider your request. This will also imply that you have other options and that ayour company may risk losing you if they don’t at least consider your request.”
6. Consider alternative benefits
Mr Sumner says: “If the cash isn’t available, perhaps look to negotiate additional benefits such as a company car or increased employer contribution to your pension scheme. There are also intangible benefits such as flexible working hours or an extra few days holiday which can make all the difference.
Mr Ruparel says: “Could you work from home one or two days a week therefore saving money on travel?”
If things don’t work out this time, ask to receive feedback as to why you weren’t successful and try to work out a plan with your boss to help you achieve a pay rise in future. However, a general rule is not to ask for a rise more than once a year as you will come across as greedy. This infrequency means you have to make the most of it when the opportunity arises.