We negotiate every day in our professional and personal lives, sometimes without even realising it. Who will manage an unexpected task? What approach will be used for a new project? Where should we go for dinner? Who will walk the dog? Finding answers to these questions depends on communication and compromise – we put forward our opinions, take on board others’ and come to a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

So why is it, that even with all this practice, salary negotiation still makes even the most self-confident, secure people squirm? Surveys indicate that at least 40% of employees don’t ask for a higher salary even if they believe they’re worth it. As a nation, we’ve often told it’s rude to talk about money but it’s very important to able to fight for the wages we deserve. With a little preparation, the process doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable or intimidating as you think.

Choose your moment wisely

Many people see their performance review as a natural time to ask for a higher salary – you will already be discussing your role, achievements and goals. The downside of this is that others on your team may have the same idea and your boss might feel overwhelmed by multiple requests. If you feel you deserve more money, don’t hold off asking until your review. Instead, arrange to have a meeting with your boss, giving them a heads up about what it’s about. Scheduling a meeting gives you both time to prepare – you can gather data about your worth and your boss can look into what’s financially possible.

Discover your worth

You should go into your meeting armed with information about what people in corresponding roles are making in your industry. It’s easy to get this data – just take a look at our annual Salary Survey and search job adverts to get the benchmark salary range. It will be harder for your manager to argue against a pay rise if you can prove that you could be making more money at a different company.

Demonstrate your value

Your salary is a reflection of your value to an organisation. You need to highlight how you have gone above and beyond the job description, and what you will bring the organisation in the future. Quantifiable data, such as timelines and figures, will come in handy here. It’s especially helpful to underline how you have contributed to success in other teams, saved the organisation money, exceeded targets or increased profits. Think about your employer’s needs at all times and demonstrate why giving you a raise will help to make their business run more smoothly. Practicing your pitch repeatedly will help you to feel more comfortable on the day.

Don’t get emotional

You might be fed up of looming bills, tight deadlines and a heavy workload but leave any negativity at the door. Being emotional or overly needy will do nothing to support your case. You manager might even start to view you in a bad light because of it. Similarly, don’t threaten to leave if your wish is not granted. Instead, focus on the positives – the excellent work you’ve done and all that you can do if you’re given a raise. Being rational will make the conversation run a lot more smoothly, and mean the experience is more comfortable for your manager too.

Prepare to negotiate

Instead of asking for a specific figure, have a range in mind. Make sure you would be happy with the lowest figure and be prepared to take it if offered. You should also consider non-salary options that might make you feel more valued in the workplace – increased benefits, a new title, more annual leave, professional training or flexible working hours. Your employer might not be a position to offer you more money but one of these options could be possible.

Take your time

Silence can be more powerful than words. Once you’ve made your pitch, put the ball in your boss’ court and wait for them to speak. This is much more effective than blabbering on for too long. Don’t feel the need to accept or reject their offer straight away. It’s a good idea to give yourself some time to think about it, no matter what they say. If your proposal is rejected, ask when you can revisit the subject and follow up then. This will show you are serious about getting what you deserve in the workplace.
Asking for a pay increase doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience. If you’re diligent in your research and preparation, there’s no reason why the discussion can’t be enriching and empowering. Fighting your corner will ensure you are respected in the workplace and move forward with a salary you are happy with.

Want to find out about salaries in your industry?

Read our Salary Survey