Asking for a pay rise is probably something that you have been putting off and you may even feel that leaving your job and finding a better one is preferable - but asking for a payrise really shouldn’t be that scary. If you feel you deserve it and can explain why, it should be relatively straightforward. You may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome or you may feel that you understand why not. However if you are left with the feeling that your boss is unreasonable and that it isn’t fair then the problem may have been the way you asked rather than the fact you asked.
So if you are in a position where you think you should be paid more for the work you do, you need to understand the best way to ask for that pay rise. Employers are not going to jumping all over themselves to offer pay rises that they are not legally required to provide. So you need to state your case well.
This is probably what led you to think about taking the plunge in the first place. That feeling that you may not be getting your worth would have led you to the sources of facts and figures on the internet. Many recruitment agencies and government agencies post salary figures for all industries and the tax sector is no different. You need to show your employer that for someone with your qualifications, number of years service and specific set of skills you deserve to be paid more.
Is it a good time?
There are two ways to look at this question. Is it a good time for your boss and is it a good time for your firm?
Choose a time to talk to your boss when they are not busy, stressed or under pressures from something else. In fact, try to set up a meeting by asking if you can have a chat with them about your role. They should be happy to set aside some time for you.
When it comes to the right time for your firm you need to have a sense of how your firm is doing in a financial sense. It will be easy for your employer to turn you down if they can point out the loss of a big customer, the profit dropping, the share price falling or a general downturn in the sector. Choose a time when things are on the up.
Be properly prepared
This is an important meeting. Don’t take it too lightly. Present yourself in a professional way and make sure you have all your facts and figures printed out and presented in a folder. This “hard copy” will show you are very serious and that your boss needs to take your concerns seriously too. Don’t make this an informal “how about a rise” meeting. This is about your future at the firm and nothing should be more serious than that.
You should also think carefully about the instances in your role where you have shown initiative, where you have gone over and above the call of duty and where you have shown yourself to be ready for more.
Be clear and concise
Get to the point quickly and don’t waste your boss’s time. Offer a few reasons (the most compelling ones) and present the rest as something your boss can look at at their leisure. You need to convince your boss that you are worth the money you are asking for.
Don’t get upset or find yourself begging. This will instantly turn the attention on your suitability and ability to maintain composure in tough situations. It isn’t a good look to moan that others are paid more or that you really deserve it because you want to buy a new car. Be professional and clear about why you deserve it. Not why someone else doesn’t.
Try not to get too hung up on specifics
Your boss may ask you outright in this first meeting about what your expectations are. This is tricky. Do you come out and say your fantasy salary and hope for the best or do you keep it low and end up feeling like you could have gotten more? The best approach is to ask them to look at the research you have provided on the market and to make you an offer. This gives you space for further negotiations.
On that note do realise that it isn’t all about money. Make your boss aware that you are willing to be flexible about the offer. You may want to have flexi-time, to work from home, to have an extra few days holiday or to increase your bonus or share scheme. Allow your boss the right to offer you a selection of payrise initiatives. You may find they mean more to you than you think.
Don’t expect an answer right away
Your boss will only get annoyed if you push for an answer right away and may feel forced to say “well, at the moment the answer has to be no”. Of course it does. Your boss needs time to think about it, to discuss with colleagues and to consider your evidence. Give them that time.
Follow up your meeting with an email that restates the main points and suggest another meeting to discuss the outcome.
Be professional regardless of the outcome
One sure way to cause problems at work is to go in with guns blazing and hand in your notice when refused a payrise. You might feel like it - but never burn your bridges. It may be time to start looking for a new role, but you have to work in your current one in the meantime. If you feel that the reasons for refusal are fair then simply wait and try again at a better time and learn from your mistakes this time around.
The fact is that employers want to keep their employees happy and should take your payrise requests seriously. If they don’t you are within your rights to look elsewhere. But a refusal may not have been the fault of your boss - it might well have been your own lack of correct procedure. Make sure you are prepared and you chances are high. This is a negotiation and not a confrontation.
What not to do
Don’t tell you’re that you could earn more if you go elsewhere. Do not put a salary survey in front them or talk about what a recruitment agent told you. You don’t want to come across as blackmailing your employer.