How to Negotiate a Better Salary: The Complete Guide

The Complete Guide to Negotiating a Better Salary

Salary negotiations can be incredibly daunting. You know you deserve a better salary but asking for it is a whole different ball game. The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise if it reflects the hard work that you’ve put into the business. But with any task, some approaches will achieve better results than others. You’ll find throughout this guide that two of the most crucial steps in all salary negotiation situations is timing and preparation. They go hand in hand and once you’ve got them right, your chances will do nothing but increase.

Can you get fired for asking for a pay rise?

Firstly, the question that may be holding you back from even asking in the first place. The simple answer is yes. But you can get fired for just about anything that is beyond the realm of protected characteristics. This includes:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Equal Pay/Compensation
  • Genetic Information
  • Harassment
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race/Colour
  • Religion
  • Retaliation
  • Sex
  • Sexual Harassment

While there’s no law against being fired for asking for a pay raise, it’s not exactly good practice from the employer to do so. A good employer should be able to incentivise high-quality performance and be open to negotiating a pay rise for those that do put their best efforts into their job. If the employer is not in a position to grant you that salary increase, they should at least explain as to why so you, in turn, can have a better understanding of the situation and/or how you can improve to get one.

You may not get fired for asking for a raise, however, there are exceptions to this. For example, termination if you get angry or make threats; if the quality of your performance diminishes or if you have a negative effect in the workplace. If your employer terminates your employment because of your request for a pay rise then this will be deemed unfair by the employment tribunals, regardless of how long you’ve been with the company.

How Often Should You Get a Pay Rise?

It is not a legal requirement to receive a pay rise each year. How often this happens is down to your employers. However, a lot of companies recognise that holding onto good employees is important so they may put a review in place to increase your salary every 12 months. How much they choose to increase it by is another story.

Every organisation has a different approach to the salary increase. Some may give everybody an increase on the same day every year; some may choose to increase in January if their financial year runs from December to January. Companies of a smaller size may increase your pay depending on when you joined the organisation. Every company is different. You may also find that in some companies you may not receive a pay rise for two or three years, or even at all so if that’s the case, it may be worth asking the question.

How to Find Out If You’re Being Underpaid

Knowing that you’re being underpaid can be incredibly off-putting. Of course, we all want to be paid for what we’re worth but how do we figure out how much we’re worth at the very least?

Google is your best friend

This is probably the fastest and easiest approach that you can take. Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are great for exploring different positions out there. Compare the salary of both the same positions in your company and also the same positions in your market. Not to mention, Glassdoor also has a great Salary Index to make your research a lot easier.

Connect with recruiters

It wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with headhunters and recruiters who specialise in your field. These people will be extremely knowledgeable in terms of salary and current market rates to give you the best advice possible. You may even find a better job in the process that pays exactly what you would’ve wanted.

Speak to your friends or former colleagues

This may be a tricky one as money and salary have always been a sensitive subject however if they’re willing to open up about it or at least weigh their opinion, it may be beneficial to the both of you. The answers you need may not even require asking them for an exact figure. Simply asking them how they feel about our industry getting paid (a certain amount) would be sufficient enough to get an idea.

What can you do if your co-workers are being paid more money?

This is a tricky one because your wage and salary is information that is private and confidential between you and the company. But what happens if this information just so happens to ‘let slip’?

Either you’d feel bad or your colleague would feel bad. Or even worse, your employer may see you in a bad light for causing a stir about compensation. During these situations, it’s important that you remain calm and although you may feel like the only thing you want to do is impulsively storm into your bosses office and demand a pay rise, acting rationally will guarantee do you more harm than it will good. Take some time to process this before you make any sort of move.

Talking to your line manager

Your manager may ask how you found this piece of information out but whether you found out through the grapevine or a document was dropped on the floor – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know. To approach this topic, you must remain calm and professional and maybe starting the conversation with “It has been brought to my attention that other colleagues are making much more for doing the same job. I’ve been working hard in my role and I hope that you can advise me on what I can do to improve my chances of receiving a significant pay raise at my next review?”

That way, instead of demanding something you just may not get, and/or hurting your prospects if you go at it in the wrong direction, you 1) let your senior know that you plan on working towards achieving the salary they think you deserve with value; 2) you’re mentioning a ‘significant’ pay raise so they won’t give you just a minor increase that you won’t even notice just to keep you happy.

ALT = Negotiate a better salary office space

How to Determine the Salary You Should Ask For

Many companies tend to budget their annual raises between the 3% to 5% bracket but if you’ve taken on many more responsibilities you could aim a little higher but obviously, make sure your request is reasonable so you don’t get laughed at. To be able to ask for more, you have to know how much you’re worth. Know your market value and how much your competitors are willing to pay you. It would help to speak to your peers in the industry to get an idea of how much they’re being paid. You’ll find that with salary negotiation in all cases, whether it be at your annual review or arranged by yourself, preparation is always key to good negotiation. It can only increase your chances.

Who should you ask for a pay rise?

If you want a pay rise, approaching your line manager is your best bet. But remember this, if the outcome is a ‘no’ then it’s never a good idea to skip over your line manager and ask somebody else. You want to make sure that you remain on good terms with your manager throughout your job, even if you plan on leaving. You may not have gotten the salary increase you wanted but you’d still be needing them for a good reference.

If you work in a larger organisation, you may find that your company has a pay review body. Sometimes asking for a pay rise can be more than just a meeting with your boss. Your boss may direct you to the pay review body where you’ll go through a more formal process to make your request. Either way, always begin the conversation with your line manager by setting up a meeting and then you can go from there.

When is the best time to ask for a pay rise?

If your annual salary review is coming up and you’re planning on negotiating that meeting, I would think again. There’s often that misconception that that’s the best time to negotiate a better salary. However, what people don’t realise is that the salary budgets will already be set in time for your one-on-one meeting so the room for negotiation may be quite slim. But of course, salary negotiations shouldn’t be done on a whim. Timing is key! The best times to ask for a pay rise would be:

  • Two or three months before your annual review
  • November, when the company is planning next year’s budget
  • You’ve been at your job for a while and haven’t received any sort of pay raise
  • You’re earning less than others in a similar position or industry
  • When you’ve recently had success that adds extra value to the company

When is the worst time to ask for a pay rise? 

There are good times to ask for a pay rise and there are also bad times that you can bring up this topic. Once you’ve done your research beforehand, you will be able to figure out how financially stable your company is. The worst times you can ask for a pay rise is when:

  • The company is having troubles and aren’t financially stable
  • Your line manager is either busy or stressed
  • It’s too soon to even ask the question. Allow yourself at the very least six months to show the value that you’ve added to the company. But remember, too soon to ask doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start preparing 

How to Negotiate a Salary Increase After Probation

What is a Probation Period?

Let’s begin by talking about what exactly is the probation period.

A probation period is mutually agreed upon duration of time in which your performance levels are measured and assessed.

Think of it as a trial period. The probation period not only allows the employer to determine whether you are a good fit for the job but also for you to determine whether the job is right for you. This period is typically anywhere between one to six months. The time during probation allows both sides to terminate the employment if things don’t work out as hoped. At the same time, if you feel that the job isn’t right for you, leaving at the end of the probation period can be much easier than quitting your job later on.

Before You Begin Your Salary Negotiations, Preparation is Key!

You can never underestimate the importance of being prepared and having a plan. Negotiating a better salary is uncomfortable enough but not being prepared can make it ten times worse. I would start planning approximately two weeks before the end of your probation period. Before you start your salary negotiation you must first evaluate the work environment. 

  • Evaluate the work environment. You can’t give somebody fifty pounds if you only have thirty pounds. It’s important to assess the current financial situation of the company before you start asking for something that the company just may not be able to give you. That’s not to say you have to go snooping for those financial statements to figure that out. But ask yourself a few questions: Has the company been hiring many new people recently or have they fired a lot of staff? These may be good indicators of a healthy financial situation or indication that they may be struggling.
  • Consider your performance and value. Another important factor to consider is what you bring to the table. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a raise if you can prove that you are worth it in the first place. Begin by curating a list of your responsibilities and duties and then a list of everything you’ve done during your probation period. Compare the two and note down any discrepancies there may be. If you perform above the expectations or done extra duties that weren’t asked of you, it can make the negotiation a lot easier based on the added value that you provide for the company.

The 6 Steps to Negotiate a Better Salary After Probation

The golden rule to remember here is: if you don’t ask, you won’t get. 

If we were to count how many bosses out there that would come and say to you “Let’s give you a raise!” I don’t think we would get very many. That’s not to say that your bosses don’t want you to or think that you’re not deserving of a better salary but we have to remember something here. Increasing salaries generally aren’t on their priorities list. So you need to be pro-active for yourself because nobody is going to do that for you but you.

So you’ve passed your probation. Congratulations! By now, you should have mentally constructed a list that is enough to convince your boss that you’re worthy of a raise. The key here to achieving what you’re after is to focus on value. Your case will be a lot stronger if you can convince your seniors that you’ve added value to the business and how you will add more to the future.

Step #1 – Organise a meeting

The first thing you want to do is book in a meeting with your manager. Be open and honest about your intentions so it gives them a good idea of what they can prepare for in return. This doesn’t mean telling them that you want to talk about money. Instead, let them know that you wanted to discuss your role, position within the business and options for growth. This sounds a lot better than ‘I want more money!’

Step #2 – Start the meeting with the things you like about the role and the company

Secondly, you should explain to your manager the things you enjoy about your work and the company. This gives them the understanding that you enjoy what you do because let’s face it, you produce better results when you’re passionate about what you do because it’s something you like doing.

Step #3 – Briefly give your account on how you would like to see the company grow

Giving ideas on how to move the business forward is a great indication of your intent at this company. You’re here to add value and you will continue to do so in the future. Maybe do a little bit of research on how the company could benefit from your ideas. Would a new ad campaign boost sales? Could they benefit from a new app? Show an idea that you’re passionate about and your boss will be able to feel your enthusiasm.

Step #4 – Describe how you believe you’ve added value to the business

This is where your list comes in. Briefly summarise the achievements you’ve made and what you’ve done through your probation period to bring value.

Step #5 – Discuss your probation period and ask for your manager’s feedback

It’s all well and good that you think you’ve done exceedingly well but what do your seniors think? Did they recognise the same achievements that you have? Is the feedback mostly positive or negative? This will give you a feel of your chances so you can adjust your expectations accordingly.

Step #6 – Bring up the question

So you’ve discussed the value and your achievements within the business, now it’s time to ask for that raise. It’ll be good to know a little about the current industry standards too. Are you getting paid less than what the industry standards are? If this is the case then it wouldn’t hurt to bring this into the topic so they can get an understanding of how much your work is worth and that you may be able to get a better offer elsewhere (but don’t say that. It may sound like you’re threatening to leave if you don’t get that raise).

Providing them with a number would also be useful so they know what exactly you had in mind. You may not get that but at least it’s a starting point for a discussion. If you simply just ask for an increase in your salary, you may get a slight increase but none that is satisfactory to you.

The meeting could end in two ways. You could either get a yes which means you get exactly the kind of raise you asked for, you get more or you get at least something, but maybe not what you had hoped for. Or you could get a no. Either way, you should always at least be mentally prepared for the ‘no’ or the ‘not getting enough’.

It’s important to consider the reasonings that your boss has for rejecting your request. Most common reasons include:

  • The financial situation of the company means not being able to increase your pay now
  • The company doesn’t tend to take on negotiations outside of the annual salary negotiation schedule, meaning you may just have to wait
  • The company does not agree that your performance is enough for a pay rise at that moment so I guess all you can do here is to improve your performance and prove them wrong. If your salary is already close to the industry average, there may be less room for discussion of an increase unless your performance drastically increases.

How to Negotiate a Better Salary at Your Annual Salary Review

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of how to negotiate a pay rise at your annual salary review, it’s important to understand the mechanics behind how pay reviews work. It’s a common misconception that the annual salary review means a guaranteed agreement of the increase in your pay when the time comes. However, if your performance is merely ‘adequate’, the manager can choose not to increase your salary because you’re only simply meeting what is required of the job.

While performance is an important factor in this decision-making process, the financial stability of the company has to also be considered. Salary budgets are generally set by the senior managers depending on what the company can afford. That is why I recommend having the salary conversation three months before your review. Salary budgets are normally set far in advance of these one-on-one performance meetings as stated above so making sure you get in there before they’ve already made the decision can give you a better chance of an increase. However, if you’re reading this a week or two before the meeting, I guess all you can do is utilise the tools you have and hope that it’s not too late. Also stated in the previous section of this post, it’s important to evaluate the work environment before you go into any sort of salary negotiation.

  • Evaluate the work environment. It’s important to assess the current financial situation of the company before you start asking for something that the company just may not be able to give you. Start by asking yourself a few questions: Has the company been hiring many new people recently or have they fired a lot of staff? These may be good indicators of a healthy financial situation or indication that they may be struggling.
  • Consider your performance and value. Another important factor to consider is what you bring to the table. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a raise if you can prove that you are worth it in the first place. Begin by curating a list of your responsibilities and duties and then a list of everything you’ve done during your probation period. Compare the two and note down any discrepancies there may be. If you perform above the expectations or done extra duties that weren’t asked of you, it can make the negotiation a lot easier based on the added value that you provide for the company.

ALT = Joeyt

 



 

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