How to ask for a pay rise or negotiate a first salary

How to ask for a pay rise

If you’ve never asked for a pay rise before, or if you are negotiating your first salary, having this conversation with your employer can be truly terrifying. What should you say? What should you not say? How much should you ask for? How much should you compromise? Read on – we’ve got the tips to help you make the most of this chat:

This is my time asking for a salary increase: 

If this is your first full-time adult salary, remember that it isn't everything. At this stage the experience will be far more valuable than the pay cheque. When it comes to offer stage, either the recruiter managing the role or the company's internal HR team will raise it, so you won't need to. If you have received a higher offer elsewhere, it is up to you to decide which is more important - does this company offer the kind of experience you wouldn't get with the other firm? Does one carry more weight on a resume? If you really feel that the current offer is below what you are worth, you can negotiate to a certain degree, and mention the other offer should you choose to. However, keep in mind that graduate positions are highly competitive - you don't want to miss out on a great role because they didn't offer you that extra $5k per year you insisted on. Once you get your foot in the door with a company, the training and experience will naturally make you more valuable, so you can negotiate a pay increase or promotion later. 

Do I really have to ask for a pay rise? 

Some people may assume their manager is already aware of their achievements, so they shouldn't need to ask for a pay rise. This is not necessarily true. Your manager is not only very busy with their own work, they also have to follow process whenever making a request on behalf of their direct reports. Make it easier for them to help you out - if you think you deserve a pay increase, say so, and provide them with examples of why you deserve it. 

What should I include as evidence of my higher-pay-worthiness? 

In order to make the case for you to earn more, you need to show that you've earned the right to earn more. Document all of your achievements since your last pay review or over the last 12 months, as well as any additional tasks or responsibilities you have taken on. Has someone else in your team left and you've taken on some of their workload? Jot that down. Does your job description cover everything you do now? Note any differences. Have you received great feedback on a job well done from clients, or any in-house awards? Be sure to include these as well. Maybe you've implemented processes to help save on costs, or built solid relationships with new clients - all relevant. Do a little research on what you might be worth in the market - ask friends in similar roles about their salary ranges, check out recruitment websites for salary surveys, perhaps talk to some recruiters. This will all give you a good idea of where you stand salary-wise. 

I've got my achievement list together. How to ask for a pay rise? 

Once you have finished documenting how deserving you are, ask your boss for a meeting to discuss it. Be sure to email your pitch to them a few days beforehand. By the time you do meet, the awkward part of the chat has already been done. Your manager may ask you to explain some points in more detail, but they will have read it and had a chance to think it over. Remember that no matter what happens, this is business - it's not personal. Stay calm and open to any points your manager may raise. 

So what's the verdict, boss? 

If your request for an increase is refused, listen to the reasons - this is valuable feedback, and will help you to improve upon your performance for next time. If the reason is the company's financial situation, you can ask your boss for another pay review within an agreed period of time, say three to six months. If the answer is the same at your next review, consider searching for a new role - your employer could be on shaky ground. If you love your job and your manager agrees to a pay rise but the figure is tiny, there are other rewards to be discussed. How about asking for some accredited training, or the opportunity to represent your team on an organisation-wide project? Both of these would look great on your resume, and could benefit your employer too. 

Discussing money doesn't have to be scary - with a bit of planning and open communication with your manager, this chat can have fantastic benefits for you both.

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