6 expert tips for negotiating a pay rise

Woman sits with her boss negotiating a pay rise, her notebook and pen in hand.

Whether you’re requesting a pay rise at your current company, or talking about salary expectations during a job interview, money can be a sensitive topic in the workplace. Your approach to talking about this topic can make all the difference as to whether or not you receive the pay bump or salary you’re after. Luckily, we’ve pulled together the best tips for you to make it happen!

The problem with pay rises

Unfortunately, it’s still rare for companies and bosses to offer regular pay rises to employees as appreciation of their loyalty and contribution. Most of the time, pay rises need to be requested and negotiated by the employees themselves. And, depending on the company, you may need to convince them you’re worth the salary that you’re requesting. 

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6 expert tips for negotiating a pay rise

Maya Grossman is a Peak Performance career coach, marketing executive, and best selling author of Invaluable: Master the 10 skills you need to skyrocket your career. Here are her tips for negotiating a pay rise.

1. Know what you want.

I think it’s important to outline exactly what you are looking for. Whether it’s a total comp number or a percentage increase, make sure you have a number.

2. When you have a number, add 15%-20%.

This will give you room to negotiate without compromising on what you really want.

3. Define your red lines.

What is the lowest counter-offer you are willing to accept? Having a red line will help you stand your ground.

4. If possible, plan a strategic win right before you are ready to make your ask.

It will give you more leverage in the negotiations.

5. Make your case.

Most people usually highlight what they were able to achieve in the past when they ask for a raise. That is an important aspect of making your case – you want to show that you delivered more than you were hired to do. However, it is also important to demonstrate how you will expand your role and add more value moving forward. No one wants to pay more for something they already have, but most people will be happy to pay more if they know they are getting their money’s worth.

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6. Make it about them, not you.

Yes, asking for a raise is definitely to your benefit, but what if you can demonstrate how it would benefit your manager or the company as well? Will your new responsibilities take some of the load off of your manager? Would some of the value you add save money elsewhere? If you can make it a win-win it will be an easy choice for your employer.

So is it OK to leave a job for better money?

We asked our community on Instagram about pay rises, and here’s what @ebbzran had to say…

“I remember reading an article in Harvard Business Review [that said] that people who change jobs on average every two years end up earning double. So don’t be afraid to leave for a pay rise.”

Back to expert Maya Grossman!

“I have definitely seen that to be true in my career. But the increase in pay isn’t just a result of changing employers. Yes, some companies have bigger budgets and can pay more for the same role, but more often the people who leave and double their salary do so because they use the move to level up. 

From my experience, these people spend their two years at the company developing new skills, going beyond their job description, and essentially qualifying themselves for the next role. These ambitious individuals try to level up internally, but they quickly learn that while they are ready for their next challenge, their organisation isn’t ready to accommodate their growth. 

It’s unfortunate, but most corporate career ladders are designed around the average time it takes to learn and level up, which doesn’t work well for employees who check all the boxes much sooner. For those employees, the next best solution is to go somewhere new where they would be evaluated for their new capabilities, and compensated accordingly.”

Planning exercise: how to prepare for your pay rise negotiation

The following exercise was inspired by the ASPIRE Career DesignerGrab a journal or notebook and write your answers to the following:

  • What salary would you like?
    Pick a number you can live with, and add a little more to make room for negotiating down.
  • What is the market value for your role in your industry?
    That is, what the market is paying for your role and how you’re currently performing in that role. You can do online research online using Hays Salary Checker or Seek Salary Guide, and find out more from recruiters who specialise in your role.
  • What’s the lowest salary you’ll accept? Are you prepared to resign or walk away if you don’t get the pay rise?
  • What other perks are you willing to accept in place of salary?
    Think paid holiday leave, hybrid work conditions, flexible work hours, commitment (in writing) to a future promotion and salary level based on performance and KPIs.
  • If the negotiation is cut short or cancelled, how can you follow up?
    Be prepared to reschedule – bosses are notoriously busy and unplanned circumstances (emergencies, etc.) can always intervene. Have a few rescheduled dates and times at the ready, and a drafted email to confirm the meeting.

Now it’s over to you!

We hope the pay rise negotiation exercise and tips above will help you feel more prepared for that next “awkward” money conversation with your boss or hiring company. Prepare, practise and prove you’re worth every cent. Good luck!

Our ASPIRE Career Designer is a self coaching career journal specifically designed to help you move beyond the day-to-day of your job title, and create a road map for your bigger picture career success. It’s a valuable coaching tool to reflect, review, plan, and progress your working career to reach your fullest potential! Click here to learn more.