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Don’t say these 5 things when asking for a pay rise

Don’t say these 5 things when asking for a pay rise

By: Diana Bocco | 12th June 2020

Unfortunately, even the greatest job in the world will start to lose its appeal if you feel stuck. Asking for a pay rise after some time of putting your all into the job is key to feeling like you’re growing professionally.

In fact, according to The 2018 Workplace Happiness Survey Report conducted by One4all Rewards, salary ranks higher (38%) than anything else when it comes to happiness at work. Good relationships with colleagues (37%) and enjoying the work itself (34%) trail just behind.

While asking for a pay rise can be uncomfortable and stressful, there are tricks to make sure you succeed. Learning how to ask for a salary increase can be just as important as learning what not to say when negotiating one.

Here are five things to avoid saying during a salary negotiation. 

1. I’m having personal problems

Your employer doesn’t care if you’re in debt, need a new car or your mortgage payments are too high. This is not the kind of information you should be sharing with your boss anyway. If anything, it makes you look like a person with poor money management skills – not the kind of impression you need to make when asking for a pay rise.

Your personal life doesn’t make you more deserving of a rise – your professional life does. So instead of focusing on your own issues, focus on your professional accomplishments when chasing a higher salary.

2. I earn less than X

Comparing your earnings with a co-worker’s is never a good way to start a pay rise negotiation. Maybe your co-worker makes more money because they have an advanced degree or more years of experience. Maybe they’ve taken on projects you haven’t. Or maybe they’re not being entirely honest about their earnings. Bringing up somebody else’s salary doesn’t help your case and could make you look bitter. Some companies frown on this and it could even cause you problems.

If you know a co-worker is making more than you are, use that information to prepare for the negotiation. Check industry salary surveys and see if their salary is a better match for the position. Then bring that information – not your co-worker’s name – to the meeting.

3. I want a huge rise

Unless you’re being promoted, you probably won’t get thousands added to your salary at once. According to the Salary and Trends survey 2019/2020, conducted by ECA International, the average salary increase for UK employees in 2020 will be around 1.1%. This translates to an average of £334.62 per year. What that means for you is that the huge increase you’re after probably isn’t happening.

To avoid disappointment when asking for a pay rise, come up with a realistic number based on your achievements and the level of commitment you’ve shown to the company.

4. I’ve been here for a year

While annual rises are common in many companies, they are by no means guaranteed. A salary increase is tied to your value as an employee, rather than your tenure in the company. It’s hard to make a convincing argument about your value when you’re starting with a comment that sounds like a complaint. 

Rather than focusing on the time passed since you were first hired, focus on what you’ve done since then. Make a list of your achievements and contributions over your first 12 months and open with that. Rather than “It’s been a year, I deserve a rise”, open with “Over the past year, this is what I’ve brought to the table”. This shifts the focus away from you and onto your specific contributions and why the company should keep you around.

5. I quit! (unless you actually mean it)

An ultimatum is a dangerous strategy to use and you shouldn’t try it unless you’re ready to follow through. Cornering your boss can easily result in being shown the door. No matter how good an employee you are, it’s very unlikely your employer is going to beg you to stay.

It’s also worth considering that if your employer calls your bluff and you end up not quitting your job, you will lose any negotiating power going forward.


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