How to negotiate a pay rise

Orla Doyle / June 25, 2015

negociate pay riseThe art of salary negotiation is a key career skill and one which will stay with you throughout your working life. In order to achieve success it is one that needs a little rehearsal, preparation and correct positioning in order to ask, and receive, the pay you deserve.

As demand for professionals picks up with improving economic conditions, recruitment is firmly on the agenda as many organisations look to revamp their teams and replenish staff lost during the downturn. This brings with it some key challenges for employers and many organisations will struggle to attract candidates with the desired skills and experience. This was recently outlined in our contributing article with the Irish Times. This has the impact of putting talented professionals in a stronger bargaining position, not only with potential hirers, but also with their existing employers and organisations must take this into consideration in order to keep key players in 2015.

Many organisations are trying to take on new staff to drive growth in an improving market, and the last thing they want to see is their best people leave. Staff attrition hurts organisations – it impacts on productivity and costs money. If businesses are unable to retain the skilled employees they already have, they face double the difficulty in securing people with the skills and experience to take their organisation forwards.

Most companies will have a standard annual pay rise for all employees to cope with inflation but what do you do if you think you are worth more? We’ve put together some tips for when you want to ask your employer for an increase but can’t decide what the best way is to go about it. They won’t guarantee that you get more pay but using these ideas may help you to get to ‘Yes’.

The first step is good preparation and research

Benchmark yourself. Look at fellow employees and people in other organisations doing similar jobs. How do you compare? Of course you won’t necessarily know the salaries of your colleagues but you can benchmark your performance and the type of duties you carry out.

Benchmark your role

This should be based on similar roles in your firm but also against market rates. If you work in a fairly structured area such as accounting, this is as simple as looking at job boards and comparing but remember to use companies of similar size and in the same location as yours. Take a look at Licnoln Recruitment Specialists most recent Salary Survey in Ireland for 2014 and see the most up to date information in the market and how you compare.

Decide what you feel is fair

Once you have seen what the market is paying, set a top rate and a bottom rate that you think is a fair reflection of your value to the organisation and that you’d be happy to accept.

Don’t just focus on the money

Is it really just the money that’s important to you or would you prefer shorter hours, training opportunities or maybe promotion? If your firm is unable to offer money then they may be more amenable to non-cash benefits that would increase your total package but would cost them little or nothing to provide.

Put together your business case

Treat it like any other pitch you may make. Put together a compelling argument as to why you are worth investing in. Think about how your job has developed, where you have made a contribution above and beyond your pay grade and how it makes full and complete sense for the company to reward you. Practice your case several times in front of a mirror and then on someone else. Ask them to judge whether it makes sense and if it is compelling.

Get your timing right

If you march into your line manager’s office and demand an increase just at the point that they are putting together a complex budget you may get a less favourable reception than you’d want. Alternatively the upcoming company-wide pay round or your appraisal meeting are perfect opportunities to speak with them and put your case.

Don’t get angry

Negotiating a pay increase is a stressful and sometimes emotional time. From your point of view you aren’t being valued enough and possibly from your employer’s standpoint times are hard and the last thing they need is staff unrest. Try wherever you can to focus on the facts and don’t take the results personally.

Be ready to negotiate

Any manager worth their salt will come back with a counter offer. If it’s not what you want then ask for time to consider it (it doesn’t hurt to let then stew a bit!) and then think about the offer and whether you want to stand your ground.

Get it in writing

Finally once the agreement has been reached make sure you get a letter or at the very least an email setting out what you have agreed. If your manager is too busy then write it yourself and let them know that you are doing this to make sure that both sides understand what was actually agreed.

By being professional and organised you can prove to your employer that you are worth investing both time and money in and by following our tips you should get the result you want. What has worked for you to secure a raise? Do you have any good tips or suggestions to pass on?

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