THE big issue that few of us feel comfortable discussing with our employers is pay. Yet research has repeatedly shown that unhappiness with what we earn is a significant cause of job dissatisfaction. How do you work out what you’re worth and then make sure your company pays you accordingly? Doing some research, thinking tactically, and being flexible can make all the difference.
1 GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
While you may not know what your colleagues earn, you can get an idea of your market worth through simple research. Check out advertisements for roles similar to your own. Speak to recruiters to get a sense of where your skills and experience would put you in the marketplace. Or use websites like emolument.com to get more information about pay scales in your industry.
2 PUT TOGETHER YOUR CASE
Once you’ve got an idea of what the industry norms are, put together a case for being paid at the same rate or higher. This is where you need concrete, specific examples of the contribution you’ve made. Where possible, quantify this in terms of what you’ve actually added to the company’s bottom line. In other words, how much new business have you brought in, how much money have you saved your firm, and what else have you contributed? It’s also useful to demonstrate that you’ve thought about your future within the company and are prepared to make extra effort to progress.
3 THINK TACTICALLY
Now you need a plan for handling the pay negotiation itself. Arrange an appointment with your boss at a time when he or she isn’t likely to be distracted. Think about how your boss likes to handle situations: if they like a written briefing note in advance, send them an email setting out your case and your justification. If they prefer an informal conversation, handle it that way – but you might in any case want to follow up the conversation with a written note.
4 HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
If your request isn’t agreed straight away, don’t get stroppy. And definitely don’t threaten to resign – there’s always the risk that you’ll be taken at your word. Ask your employer to reflect on the points you have made. Think about whether you can add anything else in support of your case. And remember that it costs a company a lot in time and money to replace staff who leave, so you do have bargaining power.
5 BE FLEXIBLE
Think flexibly about your overall benefits package. For example, if your boss agrees that you are doing a good job and deserve to be rewarded, but the budget is under pressure, consider options like more holiday, working from home one day a week, or other benefits that can have an effect on work satisfaction without costing your employer much money. Your department may be able to pay for training in lieu of a pay rise.
6 BE FORWARD THINKING
If your boss is reluctant to agree to your request because they already think you are earning what you are worth, find out what they would expect from you before you merit a pay rise or promotion. Ask about your skills gaps. Also speak to colleagues for feedback on your performance and how you come across at work. Sometimes it can be apparently irrelevant things that hold you back – having an untidy desk can result in others thinking you’re disorganised, even if you always work efficiently. Think about the overall image that you portray. Is there scope to make a more professional impression?
7 NEVER BE RASH
If you feel that your boss isn’t acknowledging your contribution, it may be time to move on. But don’t be rash. Consider how much more money you want, and whether it’s worth moving on for that amount. Make a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of your job, so you can make a measured decision. And double-check your research to make sure that you’ve estimated your worth accurately. If you do decide to move, leave on good terms. You’re likely to need a reference.
Jenny Ungless is founder and director of City Life Coaching. She is also author of Career Ahead: The Complete Career Handbook, and Shine: How to be an excellent employee.