If you work in finance, here’s some good news for you. According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey, finance professionals were the most likely to have received a pay rise last year (64 per cent did so), well above the private sector average of 54 per cent.
Yet broaching the subject of getting more money clearly hasn’t become any easier. If you have the right strategy, however, that conversation doesn’t need to be so difficult. Here are some do’s and dont’s.
1 DO TIME IT WELL
First the obvious points. However well you can show that your market value is higher than your employer’s current assessment, and unless the risk of you leaving could throw the company into greater trouble, requesting a pay hike when your firm has suffered a poor quarter is unlikely to work. And as Mark Gordon of negotiation consultancy Vantage Partners has written, any demand for a substantial rise (more than 2-10 per cent) is likely to be rejected unless your firm has seen some “pretty fundamental change” in its structure or performance.
But LinkedIn has crunched the numbers and found that the months when employees are most likely to be given more money are January, June and July. There is a caveat. These figures are heavily influenced by how specific companies structure their finances. January is there, suggests career coach Marie McIntyre, because many firms operate on a calendar fiscal year, and may have a fresh budget to spend. But regardless of the month, you can time your pitch well by booking a meeting with your manager in advance, and informing them clearly of what you wish to discuss.
2 DON’T BE NAÏVE
If you’ve received below inflation pay rises over the last few years, you might conclude that better economic conditions mean you can now expect a salary uplift. But this would be naïve. It’s your market value as an individual that matters – not market conditions. And in any case, your company may have standard pay procedures that are unlikely to be bent. So do your research, benchmark your salary to market averages, and present that information in any negotiation. Recruiters like Michael Page have comprehensive pay databases worth scavenging: a senior manager working in internal audit, for instance, should expect average annual pay of £90,000, plus a 10 to 40 per cent bonus.
But also remember, says Gordon, that your employer will judge your request against a “best alternative to negotiated agreement.” He or she will analyse your proposed salary against hiring someone new, merging your role, or eliminating it entirely. So consider your potential leverage carefully.
3 DO BE POSITIVE
Most HR professionals recommend phrasing your request in positive terms: creating a convincing rationale, talking about your key achievements and the measurable benefit they’ve brought to the firm. And rather than resorting to threats to leave, explaining that you see a larger pay package as part of your long-term commitment to the company, combined with a plan for your professional development, could make all the difference.
And don’t be afraid of making contingency plans. If a salary hike is off the cards, you could ask for a better title, or time off to study. Having a non-pay alternative means you are likely to walk away with some kind of positive outcome.
4 DON’T MAKE THREATS (OPENLY)
Threatening to leave if you don’t get what you want is not advised, and would certainly disprove any enthusiasm or commitment to the company you had previously signalled. But James Miller, author of Game Theory at Work, argues that the perceived risk of you making that threat could be a productive tool in salary negotiations – if you have the right reputation.
If you’re seen as ruthless enough, and even if leaving might be against your interests, your employer may factor the chance of you storming off into their decision, without you having to say anything at all.