Not all employers have the same approach to pay rises. There are some that use a transparent and structured procedure that is open to everyone. Others who take a more ad-hoc approach and give raises seemingly randomly. Then there are those who avoid giving pay rises as much as possible.
Don’t be disheartened if your pay rise request was turned down or it feels like you will never get one. Help is at hand.
Let’s start by looking at why you want a pay rise. Typically there is a trigger that makes us decide it’s time we got more money for our efforts. That trigger can help you manage your expectations and also plan better for submitting your request.
Maybe your motivation is time-related, and you feel a raise is long overdue. Perhaps you completed a particularly tricky sale or managed an important project and want to be rewarded for your efforts. Sometimes, it is only when we see others get rewarded with more money that we realise we want more too.
Sometimes we decide it’s time for a salary increase without recognising that we are motivated by private reasons, rather than by a work related prompt. Perhaps you have just become a parent, or need to move house and want to increase your mortgage.
You need to be aware that personal circumstances are not the business of your employer. If it’s external factors motivating your request for a higher salary, prepare for disappointment.
Understanding your motivation helps you manage your expectations because it gives context to your request. There is always the chance that your employer or line manager won’t share your enthusiasm for your reasoning. Be prepared for questions, push back or even a flat out refusal.
Consider, if your motivation is:
Time-related – that your employer might ask what you have contributed in that time.
Project or sale-related – that your employer might be looking at more than a one-off win.
Peer-related – that your employer might (and I’m sorry to say this) value your colleague more.
There’s also a case of timing. Look closely at how the business is performing and your role in that. There is no such thing as perfect timing, but a request submitted following a company win has more chance at succeeding.
As previously mentioned, the timing of your pay rise request can make or break the deal. If you choose an insensitive time to ask for more money, it’s unlikely to be a successful request.
Your annual performance review is a good time to plan to ask for a pay increase. Your employer will have your file in front of them, and will have familiarised themselves with your records from the past year. They will be expecting to discuss your future at the company, and so talking about a pay rise will feel more natural.
You might feel that asking for a pay rise is a nerve wracking but essential part of your career progression. However, the whole affair can feel calmer and simpler than applying for a new job, if you are prepared to negotiate.
Consider whether a pay rise is the only way in which this job can fulfil your needs. Would the company be able to offer anything else that would satisfy you? Perhaps they would be prepared to send you on professional training courses that would in turn make a salary bump or a new job offer more likely. Or perhaps they would consider your request for extended leave so you could make the trip of a lifetime you’ve always planned.
Be prepared for the negotiations to work both ways though. With new qualifications might come additional responsibilities; your extra holiday days may be bought with two or three years of stagnant salary. It’s important to reach a point where both sides feel the arrangement is fair.
Even if you have been unsuccessful at gaining a pay rise already, that doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Take some time to build your case and make sure it’s a strong case. With better planning, research, and timing you will increase your chances of a pay rise.
When building your case, include the following:
Just doing your job is not enough. For a strong pay rise pitch, you need to have solid examples of other ways you bring value. For example, positive initiatives you may have spearheaded, teams you lead, extra work you have taken on.
Much as you have a CV for applying for a new job, start diarising your contributions for internal applications too. Keep track of every example of you being a team player, being flexible, being proactive and helpful. Add in all relevant training and qualifications that you have completed since your last pay discussion or raise.
It’s important to be aware of the market value of your labour. When asking for a salary increase, you need to know if your request is in line with average pay for those in your role in other companies.
Look up salary surveys, and compare your current salary with the annual pay offered for similar jobs. Be prepared to go into the detail, as the same job title can mean different things at different institutions. If you find you are being paid substantially below the market value of your role, your pay rise request has a strong case.
Building your case is your opportunity to show your employer how much more you are worth than you were previously. Have all the information at hand, ready to impress your manager and negotiate a better deal.
If you are reading the above thinking that you maybe haven’t contributed anything particularly valuable recently, then there’s still time.
Make a plan for how you can add value over the next six to twelve months and action it. Prepare a strong business case for your pay rise, research current pay at the market rate, and the going rate for those in your position.
If you can’t wait a few months to improve your pay rise case, submit your pay rise request but be ready with a plan B.
There is a chance you may not be successful with your first or even second attempt at getting a pay rise. Prepare for this in advance to avoid being hit too hard with the bad news. Ask yourself if getting a pay rise is a make-or-break situation, or if you’re prepared to stay on.
Look at options within the company that could work as an alternative. Even in a company that is laying people off, there can be options. Career ladders needn’t be vertical, and with a bit of research, you might find a sideways move with more career potential. Some companies also offer pension options, shares and other benefits in place of a cash increase.
The other question to ask yourself is: does your employer want to keep you? It is crucial that you are prepared for the answer to this to be no. Having your CV up to date and looking at available jobs in your area should always be part of your research. There is no harm in applying for similar positions that pay more or speaking to a recruiter for advice.
CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment firm, based in Cork, Shannon, Galway, Mayo and Dublin – bringing together employers with the perfect employees. We specialise in the Engineering, Supply Chain, Science/Pharma, IT and Accounting industries in Ireland, and we look forward to working with you. Contact us online now or call us on +353 (0)21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation.
Tom Devaney set up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999 and has 12 years’ experience in specialist recruitment having recruited for major multinational companies in Ireland.
An active member of CIPD, Tom has served five years on the western CIPD committee.
Prior to setting up CareerWise Recruitment, he worked for Snap-on Equipment where he was the European Materials and Purchasing Manager with international responsibilities. Tom spent a year in the US working on projects with McKinsey & Co. where he developed very strong negotiation and business skills.
His years in purchasing with Thermo King in Galway initiated his very successful career to date.
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