My next move – seeking a pay rise

by 07 Aug 2007

Q. I have been working in the same company for several years and received a substantial pay increase six months ago. Since then, my responsibilities have significantly increased. I have been managing three additional full-time staff and I’m now working longer hours. I think I deserve another pay increase and would like to know how to approach this with my boss?

A. The key to negotiating a successful pay rise is to be well-prepared. To justify a salary increase you need to present a persuasive case to your boss, explaining how you are a valuable asset to the organisation.

As a HR professional, you would be aware of your company’s policies, processes and timing for performance reviews. And regardless of when your last review took place, you are now undertaking additional responsibilities, so you have a good reason to request a pay rise.

The first step is to research the HR market – it is crucial to know what the industry is currently paying for a HR manager with your experience and level of responsibility.

Analyse salary surveys, job boards and online or newspaper advertisements, speak to recruitment consultants and read industry publications. This will give you a good sense of the current market.

Based on this research, decide what you think you’re worth and most importantly, what salary you’d be happy with. Naturally, make sure it’s realistic and inline with market trends.

Next, list your achievements over the past six months and compare this with your performance review goals and objectives.

Document your contribution to the workplace. You might list some of the relationships you’ve built, the savings or profits you’ve made for your department or how you have improved staff productivity.

Review your current job description and list all of your new responsibilities and day-to-day tasks.

If you are undertaking more of a coaching and mentoring role, this could be taking up a good part of your day, so make sure you highlight this. You might also like to address your increased responsibilities, now that you are now working longer hours.

To build your case further, you could put together a portfolio of work or positive feedback from line-managers, colleagues and suppliers. This feedback will show that you are a good team player and that people enjoy working with you.

Once you have completed your initial research, set up a face-to-face review meeting with your boss. Timing is critical. Try to select a quieter week when your boss is not overloaded with meetings and will have the time to talk. You might need to work with their PA or EA to organise a convenient time.

When asking for a pay rise, many people make the common mistake of being overly emotional and demanding, or are not prepared to negotiate. Try to avoid phrases such as: “I want/need/deserve a pay rise,” or “I know that Joe Blog is getting paid more than me” or “I have got a mortgage/bills I need to pay”. As compassionate as your employer might be, this is not their problem – it’s yours.

Instead, tell your boss how much you genuinely enjoy your job and that you can see yourself growing with the company in the long term. Be confident and positive.

Also, demonstrate your value to the organisation and position yourself as an asset to the company. Be prepared to say: “I’ve recently undertaken additional responsibilities outside of my current job description, including managing, coaching and mentoring three new full-time employees. I’d like to review my salary – this is what the HR market is paying at the moment for someone of my experience and this is what I think I am worth.”

Finally, be prepared for your boss to say “no”. If this happens, try not to be defensive. Instead, be professional and ask for practical advice on what you need to do to ensure you receive a pay rise in the next six to 12 months.

Either way, this is a good opportunity for you to showcase your commitment and valuable contribution to your organisation, as well as assess your long-term career plan.

By Joanne Goldie, recruitment consultant, LINK Recruitment