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How you can get a pay rise, even in a recession

1 DO YOUR RESEARCH
It’s important you find out how your salary compares to that of other people working in your sector – if you’re paid at or above the average for people in your position, demanding a pay rise is going to be unrealistic, especially in the current climate. There are a number of online salary checker sites to help you see where on the scale you sit, such as www.paywizard.co.uk.

2 GET YOUR TIMING RIGHT
You will need to arrange a meeting with your manager in which to raise the issue, but don’t ask for a specific meeting to discuss your salary, as that will immediately set a negative context. “If you bring it up in a performance review or a normal one-to-one meeting with your boss, it’s part the positive business process,” says Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute. And don’t wait until it’s too late for the company to act. Be extremely aware of the pay cycle of the organisation and flag things up well in advance.

3 UNDERSTAND WHO DECIDES
Charles Cotton, reward advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, points out that it’s unlikely to be your boss’s ultimate decision. “The line manager probably won’t have access to the purse-strings so will have to make the case you your behalf,” he says. “That means the better the business case you can make, the more chance he has of convincing people higher up the chain of command.”

4 PROVE YOUR VALUE
Don’t kid yourself that you deserve a pay rise simply because you haven’t had one for a while – you have to prove what you contribute to the bottom line. In a sales position that’s easy, since the numbers will speak for themselves, but for others it can be harder. Show how you are making or saving money. “Focus on what you are doing for the company, and the more concrete you can be the better,” says Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute.

5 SHOW YOU ARE WILLING
Your company is likely to be looking to grow out of the recession. Think clearly about next year’s business plan and how you’re going to be essential to it. “Show you’re willing and able to take on additional skills and responsibilities, and make clear what the consequences would be of you walking away,” says Spellman.

6 BE HUMBLE
No one likes a diva. Expressing hurt about your pay level and trying to take the moral high ground is not going to help. Bring a proactive, helpful and forward-looking attitude to the meeting. “This is still about the business rather than about you,” says Spellman. “It’s all about making this a positive rather than negative thing.”

7 BE A TEAM PLAYER
If you’re part of a team, it may be hard to argue that you are deserving of a pay rise if others are not. However, putting the case for an increase in reward on behalf of the team as a whole draws attention to the success of the team while marking you out as a leader. “A strong personal performance and a strong team performance gives you a strong set of cards, but managers don’t necessarily recognise that unless you point it out,” says Spellman.

8 BE A CANNY NEGOTIATOR
In a business negotiation, says Amanda Vickers of executive coaching consultancy Speak First, whoever names a figure to be agreed on first is in the weaker position – so hold back and allow your boss to jump in. Nevertheless, have a maximum and minimum settlement margin in mind, predicated on the research you’ve done first. “Work out first what your zone of potential agreement is, and aim to settle somewhere in the middle,” says Vickers.

9 BE CONFIDENT
Discussing your remuneration with your boss can be intimidating, even embarrassing. But you won’t help your case if you go in there appearing nervous or desperate – it’ll only highlight the fact that this is about you rather than the company. Be upfront, confident and realistic. “Americans are much better at being calm and having a good discussion about this kind of thing, whereas in this country we still don’t like talking about money,” says Ruth Spellman. “Be confident and businesslike, because it’s important to get these issues discussed and have that conversation.”

10 THINK BEYOND MONEY
If your company is particularly financially stretched and unlikely to give you a pay hike, there may be other options you can explore such as extra time off, gym memberships, a better car allowance, a better pension deal or even share options in the company. Think properly about all of these options and be prepared to raise them. “You’re in a more powerful negotiating position if you have a whole list of tradeables,” says Amanda Vickers. “Think about the whole reward bundle, rather than simply about salary.”