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When and how to ask for a pay rise

Despite asking for pay rises as often as men, women are less likely to receive a pay increase than their male counterparts, according to research carried out by Warwick Economics.

Requesting a pay rise can be a difficult conversation, but approaching it in the right way is key to a successful outcome. Here, Claire Leigh, director of specialist accounting and finance recruitment agency, Brampton Recruitment, explains how to have the challenging discussion.

Although it is natural to feel nervous and reluctant about asking the question, there is no need to worry if you can justify your worthiness for a pay rise.

Approach

Appraisals and performance reviews are the perfect time to ask for a pay rise or promotion, as you and your manager should already be discussing what you have accomplished that year and discussing objectives for the coming year. When entering an appraisal, it is important to take evidence of your achievements, this could include sales figures or client feedback.

It is crucial to make sure the reason you’re asking for a pay rise is valid. Even if your sales figures are excellent, a pay rise could be unlikely if you have not taken on additional responsibilities, although they could help to display important skills such as time management or contribute to a bonus. Similarly, comparing your salary with industry averages, colleagues or friends who work in other businesses is unlikely to be seen as a just reason.

If you have taken on extra responsibilities and discussed them with your manager, whether in an organised appraisal or if you requested a meeting, now is the time to take the plunge and ask the question.

Be careful with your phrasing and don’t expect an instant answer, this conversation is just about putting the request on the table. Avoid laying down expectations or using any aggressive language and be sure to explain your reasons for asking. A good approach is, “I’ve really enjoyed my extra duties and I feel as though I’ve made a valuable impact. Could we review my pay, so it reflects the extra duties I’ve taken on?”

Interview

A similar process should be used when asking for an increase on the offered salary following an interview. If the pay offered doesn’t reflect your request, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and for the offer of employment and follow up by referencing the salary you were looking for. If it isn’t possible for the potential employer to meet this salary and you remain interested in the job, the next step is to ask for a timeframe after which you could reasonably expect your requested salary and the steps you would need to take to make sure you achieve it.

For example, many companies have a probationary period, after which pay can increase substantially. It might be possible to confirm the salary following probation will match the one you require.

Bigger picture

Flexibility might be required when asking for a pay rise in a current role. In the public sector or some large businesses, pay is based on a strict banding structure and extra training may be required before a pay rise is possible. Equally, an unexpected pay rise may simply not be possible for a small business.

If your request for a pay rise is not granted, it is always a good idea to ask for a reason. Not only can this result in valuable feedback, it can help an individual understand the bigger picture.

In the small business example given above, a recently purchased piece of machinery may start paying for itself in the next six months and you could ask again at a later date.

Whatever the reason given, you should never go above your boss’ head. Although frustrating, if the answer is no it must be accepted. A plan of action to meet required targets could be agreed between you and your manager.

Requesting a pay rise can feel a difficult question to broach, particularly when taking into account the pay gap. However, approaching the conversation correctly is key to increasing an individual’s chance of successfully obtaining recognition for their hard work.