Getting a pay rise: Making demands and not being upfront will do more harm than good in negotiations

Phil Sheridan
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The idea of asking for a pay rise is, for many of us, a nightmarish prospect (Source: Getty)

For some people, asking for a pay rise is a natural part of working life. But for others, it can involve panic, nightmares and serious procrastination.

Yet making that request is a vital part of your career, and in a market where employers are competing for talent and willing to pay a premium for the best people, you shouldn’t be working for less than you’re worth.

One of the most important parts of asking for a pay rise is knowing the best time to ask. While this can depend on several factors, there are key milestones that are natural points where your employer will be more open to discussing a raise. For example, those working in accounting and finance are most likely to be successful if they make a case for a higher salary during their performance review.

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Making a request at a business critical juncture can also be an effective strategy, according to 28 per cent of chief financial officers, who believe that making a request at the start of a major project or when taking on a new responsibility is often successful. One in 10 believe the best time to request higher remuneration is at the end of a major project.

It’s also worth being mindful not just of your own progress and successes, but of the organisation’s performance as a whole when asking for a pay rise. The major factors behind firms being in a position to increase their budget for employee remuneration unsurprisingly are company performance (50 per cent) and the economic and political climate (30 per cent).

Getting salary negotiations wrong can have devastating consequences not only for your chances of securing a pay rise but also your ongoing relationship with your employer. Here are some of the tactics best avoided:

1. Demand a rise

It’s important to remain polite, courteous and respectful at all times, even if you know you’re in a strong bargaining position. If you tell them you will leave unless your salary goes up, they may just call your bluff.

2. Go in unprepared

If you ask for more money, the first question your employer is going to ask is “why?”. If you don’t have evidence to support your answer you may well miss your opportunity.

3. Rely upon a single source of information

When you do your research into salaries and the current hiring environment, it can be dangerous to rely upon a single source; consult sources like the ONS Labour Force Survey, economic research and industry specific salary benchmarking reports such as the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide.

4. Discuss your personal finances

This is not the time to share your current credit rating or how much your monthly bills are; the focus of your discussions should be your successes and contributions to the organisation and what you feel you are worth.

5. Play games

Rather than tell them exactly what you are looking for, your aim should be to open the negotiation with a range in mind. However, be ready if your employer makes the first move. It can backfire if you repeatedly dodge the question “what are you looking for?”.

6. Be too rigid

It’s important to know when to shake hands and agree a deal. If additional pay isn’t forthcoming then you must consider the alternatives, so be prepared to discuss additional benefits such as more holiday, flexible hours or gym membership.

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Self-confidence, careful preparation, self-belief and the ability to negotiate are foundation stones of every successful career. Professional growth and earning potential depend not just on the demand for your skill set, but also on your willingness and ability to negotiate with current and prospective employers.

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