Did you know that men are twice as likely to ask for a pay rise than women? In fact, according to one study, almost a quarter of male employees (23 per cent) are likely to ask for a pay rise each year in comparison to 1 in 10 women.

So, what’s stopping you from asking? For many women in the workplace, it feels like a fruitless battle, given that even if they are successful in their request for a pay rise, their pay increase is typically £290 lower than their male colleagues.

It can be awkward talking about money, but you shouldn’t shy away from demanding fair pay for the work you do already and the skills you have. Confidence is the key to your success. But you also need to negotiate from a position of strength. That means knowing what you want out of the bargaining – and what you are worth.

6 Steps to Asking For a Pay Rise

1. Choose the right time

You will want to make sure your employer is in a receptive mood when you ask for a pay rise. Avoid asking during times of stress – if they have a big workload, or are struggling with the business’ financial health, they will be less receptive and won’t prioritise your request.

So when is a good time to ask for a pay rise?

  • In an upcoming performance review 
  • After a recent achievement of yours, as it reinforces your value 
  • After you’ve completed all outstanding projects and tasks 

Getting the timing right could be the major difference between you getting a pay rise or getting rejected. Ensure you’ve demonstrated your worth by completing your jobs and exceeding set targets so that your boss is already seeing you in a favourable light. 

2. Be clear about your goals and salary

Too many people approach chats about pay rises without enough research. It’s particularly important to identify your target salary range and weigh-up your priorities. Check the salaries paid by competitors and use an online salary checker. You have every right to be ambitious – but be realistic: you’ll never convince anyone to pay you a fantasy salary.

It’s important to think holistically about what you want. Don’t just focus on the salary and benefits. Also think about the career opportunities and your work-life balance.

You need to gather all the important information about the job you do. Understanding the complexity of your role will give you a better view of your market value. Being clear about how your in-demand skills will bring extra value to the company will put you in a much stronger negotiating position.

Make sure you know what is most important to you; what benefits you feel you must have and which ones you can live without.

3. Convince them you’re worth it

While it feels hard to do, it’s usually best to meet your manager face to face to conduct salary negotiations, rather than just sending an email.

The most important thing is to be prepared and have realistic expectations. Arm yourself with the full knowledge of what you want and what you’d be prepared to give up. That way, you will be able to articulate your position confidently.

Here are some tips on how to navigate the conversation:

  • Start by asking for more than you are willing to accept. You can always come down, but you can rarely go up.
  • Avoid confrontation and don’t be defensive. Saying the salary’s a joke or pleading your financial woes won’t win you any favours. Stay calm, respectful and focussed.
  • Use your bargaining chips. Be ready to ask if the company can raise the salary to reflect your unique qualifications, skills or experience.
  • Highlight examples of where you have won clients, saved money or mentored a winning team. You could even prepare a portfolio of achievements, case studies and testimonials to demonstrate your claims.

4. Prepare your script – know what you’re going to say

It’s important to know exactly what you’re going to say when asking for a pay rise. You must speak confidently, know your facts and be clear and professional.

Avoid “I think” statements as this presents you as uncertain. Similarly, don’t talk too fast or panic and start talking too much. State your reasons clearly – and then stop. Let the other person fill the silence. This makes you come across more confident and assertive. 

When thinking of what to say, try something along the lines of: “The added value I’ve brought to this role could be reflected in my pay. What do you think?” This is more likely to get a positive response than going in with all guns blazing and declaring “I won’t take a penny less than £xxK!”

Here are some other examples of what to say when asking for a pay rise:

  • Start with a reminder of how long you’ve worked at the position and give a quick summary of what you’ve been working on most recently.
  • Quantify your achievements and talk about how they have benefited the company, ideally using examples of percentage or monetary improvements.
  • Wrap everything up in a final impact statement, such as: “Given the value I’ve brought to the company with my skills, experience and recent achievements, I would appreciate reviewing my salary with you. I’ve also researched the current compensation levels for roles similar to mine, and have a clear understanding of the industry standard salary.”

5. Offer more

In order to be paid more, you might need to offer more. Can you prove you can add value beyond what’s in the job description? If so, you may be able to persuade them to create a new position or direct you toward a higher-level role. It pays to have researched the typical salary and responsibilities for someone in a job that’s one level above.

Know where you can be flexible to achieve a win-win outcome. Determine what is important to the company and what will help boost your own career.

For example, if the company needs to control payroll expenses, would you be happy to work on a fixed term contract? If they really can’t increase the salary, could you work fewer hours for the same pay? A savvy employer might realise the benefit of having your hard-to-find skills for 25 hours a week rather than a less experienced person for 37.

Another option is to agree on a date (in writing) for a salary review. This should be after six months, not a year. But remember, your negotiating power is usually strongest before you sign a revised contract.

All negotiations involve some compromise and you are unlikely to get everything you want. Knowing what is a ‘must-have’ versus a ‘nice to have’ will help you make the right decisions. And don’t push too hard – you don’t want to push yourself out of a job.

Finally, be sure to ask your employer to confirm everything you’ve negotiated during your meetings in writing.

6. Be assertive

Assertiveness is essential for successful negotiations. One of the best things you can do to boost your confidence is to role-play your salary negotiation with someone who’s successfully asked for a pay rise before.

Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you must be prepared to market yourself to get the salary you deserve. Above all, never underestimate your value. 

If you need career support, including how to negotiate your salary, contact our expert team today to see how City CV can help you.