How to approach your employer for a pay rise without risking your job

It can be one of the most sensitive of subjects, but as just about every employee survey shows the renumeration you receive has and will likely always be a primary factor determining how satisfied you are working for your current employer.

But is a fear of jeopardising your position holding you back from asking your employer for a salary revision if you believe a rise is due?

Over the next few minutes, we’ll share with you a series of strategies that have proven time and again over the last 20 years to help the candidates we work with to secure the pay they seek whilst maintaining a positive relationship with their employer. And in some instances, the tactics deployed have even boosted their career prospects as we shall explain below.

Gather intelligence

Having a number in mind for what you want your employer to match is all very well, but that’s akin to holding a finger in the air and hoping the wind will turn in your favour. To effectively ‘sell’ your proposition requires a little homework. Research your industry for salary benchmarking reports that shed light on what colleagues performing the same or similar roles to you are earning. Compare this to your current earnings and if there is a disconnect between the two you will be better equipped to make a compelling case for a pay rise based on current market value.

Show and tell

Knowing what the market is currently paying will help your cause, but that is unlikely to be enough to sway your employer around to your way of thinking. As impersonal as this may sound, employers want to know what return they will get for the additional investment that you are asking them to make by increasing your salary. This is where you need to remind them of your accomplishments, the difference you have and will continue to make, and give them an insight into what may yet come from you.

In it for the long haul

The last 24 months have witnessed a spate of executives moving organisations – such is the demand for top talent right now. This has presented a dual challenge for employers of needing to attract the new talent they need whilst retaining that which they already have. By committing yourself to the organisation over the mid to long-term with your employer means they will be  more likely to pull out all the stops to negotiate terms that are mutually beneficial.

Get your timing right

This is critical. We have seen highly experienced executives request an increase in salary during periods of financial uncertainty, redundancies, or when the organisation is undergoing a period of significant change. Time your approach carefully such as upon completion of a successful project, after the organisation posts positive financial results, or simply when you yourself are nearing a milestone in your tenure, such as a three or five year anniversary.

Prepare your pitch

The old adage ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ could very easily apply to any salary negotiation. Essentially, you are presenting a marketing proposal whereby you are selling ‘You’ to a potential buyer – your employer. So, be clear on what you are asking for, outline your rationale supported with facts, and provide clarity on how acceptance of your proposal will positively support the organisation’s strategic goals.

Prepare for rejection

Sometimes, no matter how strong your case is in favour of a salary increase, the outcome is not what you had hoped for and feel that you deserve. If your employer rejects your proposal, it could be for any number of reasons such as budget restraints or unplanned but essential expenditure. This doesn’t have to be the end of the process, however. Consider alternative options such as performance-based bonuses, continued professional development opportunities that can boost your marketability, or additional annual leave for example. The answer to your request maybe a ‘no’ right now, but we have seen time and again executives who negotiate alternative options to a salary increase only for this to significantly benefit them the next time salary negotiations are on the table.







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