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How to negotiate the pay rise you want

Asking for a pay rise, for many, can be a nightmare. Talking about money, not being quite sure if you’re paid enough, having a very uncomfortable conversation with your boss. The whole thing can feel very challenging and ultimately end up being avoided at all costs, but this can leave you feeling undervalued and frustrated.

For lots of us, asking for a pay rise is no easy thing and it’s a topic we often shy away from. You need a clear strategy to help prepare you for negotiation. So, what do you need to do?

Be informed

Whether you have a scheduled salary review or a regular appraisal, preparation is key. Make yourself aware of the system your company employs when it comes to reviewing salaries. Not all firms have a formal procedure in place, so you need to get acquainted with how it’s handled. Is it part of an annual review? When does the review take place? Or does the company have a more laissez-faire approach and it’s up to you to give your boss a nudge and ask for a review?

Do your homework

We are hard-wired for fairness, so the mere mention of disproportionate salary differences is probably enough to kick in an employer’s desire to operate a fair system of reward. If you have supportive evidence that your salary is at below-market, you should speak up. But do your homework. Look at salary surveys, cost-of-living comparisons, and rates of compensation within your organisation, if possible.

Before you start talking numbers with the boss, you need to know your market worth for the role you are doing. Talking to friends or colleagues in different positions and professions isn’t going to generate an accurate representation. Our most recent annual Salary Guide will be a helpful tool – it presents our findings on corporate communications salary ranges every year.

Keep track

If your company reviews salaries on an annual basis, be mindful of how effective you are throughout the year so that you can present a really convincing case when it comes to proving your worth. Keep track of the good stuff, the achievements, accounts that you’ve grown or won; You need to have a powerful case to present; your accomplishments from 10 months ago can easily be forgotten.

Reminders of your worth need to be rooted in evidence so identify which targets you have exceeded and which problems you have solved – you need evidence that is quantitative to make your case.

Create your own value

When you take on responsibilities that weren’t originally in the scope of your work, your employer is going to sit up and take notice.

Remember that simply doing what is asked of you in your role isn’t going to make an overwhelmingly convincing case for a pay rise. Instead you want to demonstrate that you have delivered more than you’ve been asked for.

E.g. Perhaps offer to manage the social media for the company or help the hiring process or actively getting involved in offering training sessions with more junior members of staff.


If you have the option of choosing when to have a conversation about a pay rise, do it when you’ve done something that you feel has added value to the company. You’ll feel better about yourself which will come across positively in the discussion. Your employer will want to hang on you to you if you show not only talent but also self-belief and commitment to your role.

Think about when to ask for the meeting. I would suggest requesting for a morning meeting with your line manager, so you are not thinking about it all day. If you are stressed before the meeting tell yourself it’s excitement (reframe it) and that you are standing up for yourself.

Be confident

For most people, money talk is uncomfortable territory. If you work for a company that doesn’t take stock of employee salaries on an annual basis, it’s easy to let the discussion about a salary increase slide and you may find yourself taking home the same amount for a couple of years. You may start to question your value to the company and resent the lack of financial recognition. Don’t allow this to happen. It will show in the way you interact with your colleagues. Bite the bullet and ask for a review.

If you are nervous before the meeting, take some deep breaths. You can take in notes to the meeting to remind yourself of your reasoning. Keep the conversation positive, say you want to talk about your salary as you noticed, from your research, that your role is not being paid market rate. It’s about what the value of the role is to them and your contribution to the business.

Once you have outlined your reasoning and you have given them a number, ask them what they think? They are unlikely to have an answer for you straight away so make sure you agree when they will come back to you.

Well done for having the conversation - it will make you feel better, even if it’s REALLY uncomfortable.

Remember that you are expensive to replace

Your organisation has invested time and money in you. The cost of replacing you is a significant expense, not to mention a major hassle – it’s disruptive to be down a person in the team and takes time to train up a new hire. So, if you have a legitimate request and have performed well, you do have a certain amount of leverage. You being unhappy and potentially leaving is a real headache for your boss.

Manage expectations

We don’t always get what we want. The answer may be ‘no’ but at least you know the state of play.

Ask what do you need to achieve to be awarded an increase? Ensure a clear understanding of what you need to do to get the pay rise. Can you agree to speak about this again in 6 months’ time on your progress? If so, put it in your boss’s diary straightaway.

If there’s no movement on your base, they may have some wiggle room on your bonus which isn’t a permanent cost to them. The other way you could negotiate is with time. For example, you don’t take a pay rise but you reduce your hours slightly. Not everything has to be about your base salary when you negotiate.

Finally, moving roles can be a great way to increase your salary. It’s food for thought and certainly one way to get a good bump in pay, however, a ‘no’ may just be a ‘no for now’.

At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing your worth and presenting a valid case.

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