Get that money, honey
Asking your employer for a pay rise might be tricky, but it’s ultimately life-altering. Here’s how to do it right
LET’S BE FRANK HERE, asking for – and getting more money from your employer is the only real way to close the gender pay gap in Australia. And what’s that saying: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. We’ve spoken to some of the country’s leading career coaches, so you can walk into that meeting with your boss with your head held high (even if you feel like you might have a nerveinduced vomit all over their desk).
According to Nicole Grainger Marsh (Nicolegraingermarsh.com), most companies have a period set aside for assessing salaries. You just need to find out when it is. ‘Most organisations have an annual salary review cycle that they adhere to, so your best bet is to make sure you get in and prime your boss ahead of time. This removes the common objection of, “It’s not pay review time right now,” Nicole says. ‘If you have taken on any extra responsibilities in your role, and this looks set to continue, don’t wait for salary review time to come around to have the conversation about you deserving increased pay. Any situation where you are delivering above and beyond for a sustained period of time, puts you in a good position to have the pay rise discussion.’
That’s all well and good, but actually formulating the words to tell your boss can be tricky, right? Nicole says it’s all about preparation. ‘Set aside time to have the discussion with your manager when there are no other distractions and you can both focus on the point at hand – so a casual hint dropped in the lunch room is not the way to go!’ Rather, email your boss and slot in an hour of time. ‘The first thing to do is ensure you are prepared, in particular knowing what your “floor” is – or the lowest amount you will accept and your “first ask”, which is higher than your desired amount, as you will be negotiated down! Then, once you’re in the room, state your case clearly – what you want, how much and why. Be specific, be clear and don’t make demands or excuses. Once your request is on the table, listen closely to what your boss has to say, so that you can collaborate and work towards a win/win outcome.’
That said, there are certain things you should never use as reasons for requesting a pay increase. According to career transition coach Robyn Greaves at The 3rd Chapter (The3rdchapter. com), making your argument personal is a huge nono. ‘Remember, you need to remain professional and positive at all times throughout the negotiation, so it’s best to avoid starting the conversation with, “I haven’t had a pay rise since...”, “I’m doing the work of three people...”, or the alwaysdangerous, “If I don’t get a pay rise, I’m leaving.’” Robyn says that pulling out those statements can undermine your campaign for a pay rise, and may also trigger your boss to stand their ground and deny your request. ‘Don’t start the conversation by complaining, telling the boss something they already know or by giving them an ultimatum.’ So, if the fact we’re struggling to pay off our lunchtime shopping purchases isn’t a good enough reason to get more cashola in our bank account, what should we be focused on when requesting a pay increase? According to Faye Hollands, career coach at Outshine Consulting (Outshine consulting.com.au), it’s all about how we’ve served the company.
‘The key points you need to highlight if you want to get a pay rise are: how have you made or saved money for the organisation? How have you added value? And what problems have you solved? When you can highlight how you’ve not just done your daytoday job, but actually added true value to your team or business, you become a much more important asset and are therefore worth more, making it much easier to get a pay rise,’ Faye explains. ‘The problem many people have is that they haven’t spent time thinking about where they’ve added true value, and instead base the reasons for wanting a pay rise on how long they’ve been at the company, for example, or because they think they’re worth more without backing it up with quantifiable, real results.’ So if you managed to land a client who had previously been spending with a competitor, or worked out a way to cut costs and save the business a substantial amount of money, these are things you need to highlight to your manager. Basically, your boss needs to see that you’re worth the extra cash.
‘Be specific, be clear and don’t make demands or excuses’