The Ultimate Guide To Negotiating A Pay Rise

Job offer on the table? Annual review or ‘Career conversation’ coming up? Either way you better get your game face on. The time has come for one of the most significant events in your career – landing a killer pay rise.

It’s that awkward ‘I want some more money. Is that OK or are you going to fire me for asking?’ moment all employees (and employers) dread. How you do at this skill decides your pay for the next 12 months or longer so we’re here to help you make the most out of it with 5 handy tips.

Tip#1: Know what you are worth

You want to come to the table with concrete facts that will help support your case.  What is the market value for your position?  What are other companies currently offering for comparable experience? Sites like will help you get a benchmark. If you can’t get accurate info there then speak to an industry specialist  recruitment agency – most of them produce salary surveys so you can see if you’re underpaid.

Knowing your market value can be very helpful on two fronts.  First, it will keep the discussion factual which will help to keep emotions from getting involved. Second, it may reset your expectations for how much it is reasonable to ask for.

Tip#2: Know your outcome

You need to go into the meeting knowing exactly what it is you want from it. What are you prepared to be flexible on and what is non-negotiable? Negotiating a pay rise is not just about base salary; think about other benefits e.g. if they can’t increase salary can they build in a review in 6 months or a special bonus for achieving targets? If they can’t move on the healthcare policy can they increase holiday allocation? If you’re moving companies can they offer a joining bonus, if your staying put can they offer a retention bonus? Its important to know your result but stay flexible in your approach.

Tip#3: Build your ‘realistic’ argument

Salary is earned not given so provide the proof first. Consider what makes you unique and valuable and build a case around your irreplaceable strengths and abilities. More importantly, how you have made them (or past employers) more money and how you will continue to do just that.  If you are not in a revenue generating position, you still need to come up with good reasons why paying you more will actually help them.

It’s wise to plan out your ‘best case’, ‘mid point’ and ‘worst case’ scenarios. Then plan a strategy for how you’re going to respond to each of these. Be realistic in your demands; if you’re moving company  (depending on industry) you can expect a package increase of anywhere upto 10% if it’s an annual review then you’ll be lucky with anything over 5%. Hopefully you’ll be adding so much value to the company that this will be easy.

Tip#4: Negotiate with a positive mindset

You’ve done research, built your argument and are prepared to be open-minded, and now it’s finally time for battle.

Rather than thinking about how you’re going to benefit from a pay rise, list the benefits to the company of having you there and highly motivated. Keep in mind that while you have been preparing and thinking about this for possibly weeks in advance, it’s likely that your boss has not so don’t be too pushy. Try and keep emotions out of it stick to the facts and try not to compare yourself to other people in the team; this can lead to animosity and isn’t very professional.

A good negotiation needs both parties to be active in the conversation, so if your boss needs time to reflect on your demands give them that time. If you are negotiating as part of a new job, keep in mind that you are still technically in the interview process. The attitude you have now is what they will expect to see going forward so make sure it’s consistent with how you have been during interview. You don’t want to get started on the wrong foot.

Tip #5: Be prepared for ‘no’

Pay follows performance, not the other way around. You can’t expect your employer to give you a pay rise if you haven’t already proven to them that you deserve it.

If your boss decides the times not right to change your pay then it’s not worth jeopardising your position so don’t whine and moan about it. Instead why not suggest that if you are able to prove to him/her that you deserve one within a defined timescale (1-6 months) then would they reconsider?

If you have been performing and you still get a ‘no’ then it might be time to plan your escape.

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