Taking your first steps to negotiating a new salaryFor some of us working longer hours and dipping into personal time to do extra work is the easy part, at least when you compare it to the nerve-racking mission of asking for a pay rise.

This fear can stem down from many things from not wanting to start an awkward conversation about money, or simple self-doubt – are you really doing your job? Nevertheless, biting the bullet ‘at the right time,’ or indeed with a very regular cadence to grow and develop and to have your leadership hear your determination to be valued and to add value, this matters. Indeed there is a study that demonstrates how those that ask regularly for a pay increase, whom have the will to ask for more, they get more and indeed over a lifetime particularly men are seen to gain much greater income in the same career lifespan, with indeed no measurable difference in performance simply because they ask more.

Think what you like but life is not fair and individuals are not always immediately recognised for the value they deliver. Sometimes it is nothing other than the scale of the leader’s role that means individuals that don’t ask are neglected. It can of course be a leader’s desire to keep their head down, afterall often they are rewarded for money made not money spent. People do what they are rewarded to do and measured against. If you think you have delivered good results, great returns, gone over and above your expected role, make sure you are paid the value you are worth. Why is it there are so few women partners at firms like EY? Could it be women are not asking for partnership status soon enough? Traditionally women were overlooked, undervalued but it is very important in the fight for fair pay that females to ask and indeed expect to be valued against fair market rate irrespective of gender.

Why does asking for a pay rise matter? You should not wait till someone acknowledges your work – you might well be waiting a long time.

The ‘asking’ in itself already shows good qualities and initiative because it highlights that you believe in your own skills and that the work you’ve done goes beyond the tasks and goals you were first hired/promoted to do. The hint in this last point is – chances of you getting a pay rise for simply doing your current job well isn’t usually enough, your goal is not to hit the roof but break through it.

Before you’re ready to prepare yourself for the conversation ask yourself these questions first.

  1. Are you looking for a pay rise, or the next step in the hierarchy?

One of the first things to do is research. Are you actually statistically underpaid for your role? Check out job offers on the internet. If you are on par with those doing a similar role you may have a hard time asking for a pay rise. If that’s the case maybe the conversation needs to be ‘How can I progress within the company?’

  1. What have I done to deserve a salary increase?

Back to the hint I previously mentioned above. Constantly surpassing your targets, putting in extra time to add value to the company? Well done! You have a strong chance and you should go for it. However, make sure you aren’t simply doing your job role well, might be to your advantage to go that extra mile for compelling reasons first.

But how do you go about it, you ask?

  • Make your case

Prepare yourself and your argument. Write out all your accomplishments, ways you’ve gone above your job description; any tasks you want to take official ownership of, any ways you have bought it extra revenue – and be specific.

  • Create your own performance review, and request time to be heard

The main end goal of your meeting may be a raise, but this is also an extremely beneficial conversation it also gives you a chance to hear feedback on ways you can improve yourself even further – so be prepared to also hear constructive criticism.

  • Be ready with a ballpark figure.

Don’t make this up. Do your research, of course online but also perhaps trusted peers. A good way to know is to ask people in your field what they earned at your stage of their career.

My final advice is take responsibility for your income and be able to ask for what you believe you deserve. It may also serve you to highlight other benefits that are not as costly to the business that give you alternative outcomes and not just money. Role flexibility, working environment changes, trust to work from home sometimes indeed requesting shadowing of a senior executive to learn more, or even volunteering to be involved in a company sales event outside your normal role, all these things are assets that will also help your own progression.

In the book Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever state, “Women who consistently negotiate their salary have increased earnings of at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.”. Which goes to show you could be losing a lot more than you think in the long run.

Come along people…surely you are worth it?

Lara MorganAbout the author

Lara Morgan, mother, entrepreneur, investor in wickedly cool life improving brands like Scentered.com, Gate8-luggage, KitBrix, Dryrobe and Global Amenities

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