Cartoon of person negotiating payrise

According to the Chartered Management Institute, men are twice as likely as women to ask for a pay rise  – and just as shocking is the fact that three in five women have never even asked. This is despite the fact that, as highlighted by the Channel Four Dispatches show Who Deserves A Pay Rise? this week, it’s been 15 years since most British workers saw any real-term pay increase.

So what’s stopping you from asking? Now, I understand that some people find talking about money awkward. But you should not 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.

Be clear about your goals

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.

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 send 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.

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A classic negotiation technique is to start by asking for more than you are willing to accept. After all, you can always come down, but you can rarely go up. Above all, avoid confrontation and don’t be defensive. Saying the salary’s a joke or pleading your financial woes won’t win you any favours. Instead, stay calm, respectful and focused.

If you’ve done your research, you’ll have some 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, case studies or testimonials to demonstrate your claims. State your reasons clearly and then stop – let the other person fill the silence.

Try something along the lines of: “I think 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!”

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, by determining what is important to the company and to 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 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.

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. Good luck in your negotiations!

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