How to overcome the fear of asking for a pay rise

HR leader, confident female business leader

Article by Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director at Aquent

Those who are nervous about the thought of asking for a pay rise are not alone.

Discussing a salary increase can be a nerve-wracking experience because no one enjoys feeling rejected, but the truth is, if staff have been performing well, employers are probably expecting to have this conversation. Indeed, managers deal with salaries much more than one would think, it is a very normal conversation to have and demonstrates confidence in one’s work.  

It is especially tough for women to ask for a raise when they were brought up to be accommodating and to think about the needs of others. As they worry to be seen as “too pushy” or even “too aggressive” in their approach, women often undervalue themselves and their contributions. Therefore, not only are women more afraid of asking for a pay rise, but they also usually ask for much less than their male counterparts. 

Money is generally perceived as a private matter, one that should be avoided in discussions but it’s time for women to stick together and advocate for themselves in the workplace. Have those tough conversations and ask for what you truly deserve.

Aliza Sweiry, UK Managing Director at Aquent, provides a few tips on how to land a pay rise: 

  1. Do your homework

Before raising the topic with your manager, you’ll need to reflect on your value to the company and what they bring to the table. Set realistic expectations by researching job vacancies that are similar to your role and have a look at the required qualifications. If you have been with your company for a significant amount of time, or if you work in an industry that is facing major skills shortages, it is very likely that your employer will be willing to bump up your salary to keep you around. Chatting with a recruitment consultant is also one of the best ways to get some valuable insights and tips.

  1. Build your case

Boost your chances of nailing that pay rise by providing your manager with the hard evidence.

Have you been consistently reaching your targets? Are you a key-player when it comes to solving problems? Have you implemented new ideas that have enabled your company to massively reduce their spending? Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet by giving specific, quantifiable examples as to why you are an essential member of the company. Don’t forget to prepare for questions and be ready to negotiate offers from your manager. During the conversation, remember to show you’re super-enthusiastic about pursuing this job, it will certainly be noticed.

  1. Be ready to compromise

“Many employers offers a wide range of appealing perks, so if you are faced with a “no” you may want to explore other options. Sometimes being compensated with extra holiday allowance, a more flexible work schedule or the ability to work remotely may be some good incentives to consider. Just remember to evaluate whether such things are genuinely of value to you.” 

  1. Timing is everything

“Increase your chances of landing a pay rise by approaching your manager at the right time, for example during a positive performance review or following the successful completion of a complex project. A happy manager is more likely to be receptive and willing to compromise. Consider postponing the conversation if you notice your team is under a lot of stress due to a heavy workload or if the company is making cutbacks. It is also important to initiate this conversation privately to avoid discomfort. Being professional in your approach goes a long way.”

  1. No matter the outcome, end on a positive note

“If your employer has agreed to a salary increase, congratulations! However, remember to continue proving your value as an employee. This is not the time to sit back and take it easy. On the other hand, if you don’t receive the salary increase you were hoping for, don’t despair! Ask your manager if there are any steps you can take to improve. This may involve extra training or mentorship. Inquire when you can have the salary conversation again, perhaps in a few months. If you are ultimately unhappy with your salary and you feel like you have tried everything, consider leaving. After all, finding a new job is one of the best ways to secure a salary increase!”

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