How to ask for a pay rise — and get it

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By Maggie Berry of WEConnect International

Recent statistics from the Chartered Management Institute have suggested that it may be almost 100 years before there is equal pay between the sexes. So rather than becoming despondent, perhaps it’s time for female employees to be a little more bold in chasing the salary they deserve. After all, as the old adage goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So, find out how to ask for a pay rise and get it.

1. Arm yourself with figures

If you’re happy in your current job and don’t want to move, find out what your organisation’s pay policy is. It could be standardised and implemented as percentage increases across the board, in which case you should find out when you’re next due for a raise. Or it could be discretionary and performance based. In this case, if you feel your work is up to scratch but your salary isn’t, it may be time to be brave and ask the question.

2. Prepare yourself

When it comes to asking for a pay rise outright, come fully prepared and know what you’re going to say. Make sure what you’re asking for is realistic. To do this, find out the industry standard salary for your role and use that as a guideline for what you think you’re worth, in terms of your experience and performance. You should also bring a list of your achievements and use this to show how you are a worthy candidate for an increase.

3. It’s all about timing..

With matters of pay, timing is absolutely crucial. If you know the company hasn’t been doing well financially, it’s a bad time to ask. It’s a good idea to time your request so that it coincides with the end of a project you have played a successful part in.

4. Be clear

Make sure you phrase the question tactfully but clearly. It’s a hard one to ask confidently, and, while you don’t want to be self-deprecating, you also don’t want to come across as ungrateful or cocky. Try to be factual, polite and positive. If the answer is a “no”, you don’t want to damage relationships with your managers.

5. Be prepared to compromise

If your employers can’t offer you a raise, can they be flexible? Many companies offer benefits packages, such as an extra training budget or a sabbatical. In a bigger organisation you could even be put forward for a fast-track or high-potential programme, so it may be worth considering these options.

6. Ask for feedback

If you’re not offered anything at all, ask for feedback and consider the reasons your request was refused. If you still truly believe that you are worth more, then it may be time to move on. One of the common reasons cited for men being paid more is that women are more loyal and stick with businesses, despite low wages. At times in your career, it may pay to be ruthless.

7. Think about moving

In our recent “Women’s Careers in IT” survey, we discovered that 80% of respondents wouldn’t apply for a job unless they filled over three quarters of the criteria. Although job specs are written for a reason, many employers are flexible in what they need from a new recruit. While you might not tick all the boxes, if your CV is relevant it might be considered anyway. There’s no harm in trying!

8. Negotiate on your new salary

Another oft-cited fact is that men are more likely to negotiate pay when taking on a new role. While women often jump at a generous offer, men are prone to asking for as much as they can get. Perhaps this is down to confidence, but they should be more willing to push back on the employer and have more self-belief.

About the author:
Maggie Berry is Executive Director, Europe of WEConnect International. Maggie has lead responsibility for the management, leadership and development of WEConnect International in Europe.

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The gender pay gap – what is it and what’s changing?

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