10 tips to getting a pay rise

Do you feel unappreciated at work and think that you deserve a pay rise? Steve Wiseman tells you how to get a salary increase.

  1. Find out the correct channels

    Different types of employers respond to their employees asking for a pay rise or promotion in different ways, depending on their policies and culture. Some, especially those in the public sector and the larger private sector companies, will refer you to set policies and protocols. For example, salary reviews may only take place at particular times in the year, or they may only be related to performance. There may be a staff handbook containing such information. Other employers - especially small ones - will have more ad hoc arrangements, but even then, there will usually be a named person who deals with such requests. If you fail to apply correctly, you will irritate people and it won't help your case.

  2. Keep your boss informed

    It's normally good practice to let your immediate boss know that you want a salary increase, so talk to him first. Don't go to senior managers or the HR department over his head. Always keep your boss informed, because his opinion will usually be sought before your employer considers improving your job and remuneration package. You need your boss's support.

  3. Get a job evaluation

    Your employer may have a policy of having fixed salary grades. In this case, you are only likely to succeed in achieving a pay rise if you can argue that your job should be upgraded. To deal with this, your employer may have a job evaluation scheme. This is a method of determining the relative worth of a job to the business. You would need to compare what you are actually asked to do by your employer with the criteria set out in the scheme. The HR department may carry out a job evaluation on your job.

  4. Seek support

    It may be advisable to seek support or perhaps expert representation with your application, especially if there is a procedure, such as a job evaluation, to follow. Your trade union or professional association will do this for you if you are a member. If you're not, a work colleague or friend may give you an opportunity to talk things through so that you can prepare your case.

  5. Ask for extra work and responsibility

    The best approach is to ask for extra responsibility and then link this to a pay rise, if not immediately, then in the future. Employers respond better to a positive suggestion from you, rather than having to hear you moaning that you don't earn enough.

  6. Improve your performance

    Discuss with your employer how you can improve your performance and contribution to the organisation, in a way that will enable a pay rise. Again, your employer should receive this positively as you are offering something in return, and you're not simply asking for more money, which most people tend to do.

  7. Reflect on your motives

    Ask yourself honestly why you want or need a salary increase. You may feel undervalued. You may be genuinely underpaid. Are you being fair and realistic? Stepping back and taking a truly objective view is so important. Put yourself in your employer's shoes. How would the company see the situation?

  8. Know your worth

    Do your homework. Research the typical salaries for someone with similar experience in your industry. You can also check out salaries at recruitment firms, in job adverts and on salary surveys online. Use evidence of your value to the organisation, directly linked to cost saving, profit improvement and other key performance indicators, such as customers gained, retained, problems solved, efficiencies achieved, initiatives started, your positive effect on colleagues/team members, customer feedback and the business generated. You should also find out if people with your skills are ten-a-penny or if employers are likely to fight to the death over you. No one is indispensable, but some people are less dispensable than others, and these people will always have more leverage when it comes to salary re-negotiation.

  9. Stand firm

    If you're in a position to negotiate a pay rise, you should never be the first to mention a figure. Obviously, this can result in a stand off, but you should be strong and also vague. Don't sell yourself short. If you have to mention a figure, start high. If you want £35,000, start at £40,000. If your employer comes up with a figure first, ask yourself if it's reasonable. If it is, start looking at the rest of the package. If you don't like the offer, ask if there is room for negotiation. You could also ask if the figure includes perks. If all else fails, tell your employer that you have been offered another job for more money, but you would prefer to work with them. This may result in goodbye, so you have to be prepared to take that risk.

  10. Move on

    It's important that you always recognise the difference between the value of the role that you perform and your value as an individual. The two are not the same. If you continually feel frustrated about your pay levels, despite you trying all of the techniques and ideas for achieving a pay rise, it could be that your boss or employer has simply reached the limit of the value that he can place on your role, which is different to your value as an individual. You could have a very high potential value, but if your role doesn't enable you to perform to your fullest extent, then your pay level will be suppressed. Aside from issues of exploitation and unfairness, if you find that the gap between your expectations and your employer's salary limit is too great to bridge, try and find or develop a role which commands a higher value, and therefore a bigger salary. You can do this with your present employer, by agreeing wider responsibilities and opportunities for you to contribute to organisational performance and profit, or with a new employer.

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Published on: June 4, 2008

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