As we get closer and closer to our Businesswoman of the Year awards, we're putting the spotlight on our careers, talking about our successes but also the things in 2017 which are still topics that as women, we’re generally expected to gracefully step around. Money is still considered one of those; a taboo subject that makes everyone uncomfortable. It's a Difficult Thing, made all the more difficult if you happen to be female because we're constantly bombarded with mixed messages: Demand more! Don't Compromise! But always be yourself and be careful about overstepping your mark! We don't put our self-worth at the top of our priorities and when we do, it's shrouded in negative thoughts which keeps money and the subject of asking for a rise or promotion well on the back burner. Am I stupid to ask for this? Will they think less of me? What have I actually contributed? Am I really good enough for this? However you go about asking for yours, a general rule of thumb is to be professional, prepared and willing to negotiate (a job is a two-way street, after all). And as Career Psychologist Sinead Brady advises below, this is reality that we all have to face at some point in our careers. Here she offers eight helpful tips to take on board before you ask for yours.
The business of money is a tough and an uncomfortable reality. A reality that you must face if you want to negotiate some extra money. So how do you know you deserve a pay rise and then how do you ask for it? Here are some simple steps in the art of successfully negotiating a pay rise.
It's a project
Just like any other professional assignment, treat your salary negotiation as a project. A project that must be planned and managed with a high level of professional integrity.
Before you rush into your boss asking for more money, assess your professional position. Strategically identify 3 - 5 things that you have accomplished, done or initiated that were innovative, unexpected or remarkable in the past 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Did you bring in new business, start a new initiative, win an award, make a successful pitch, commercialise an idea, build a strategy or come up with a new way to diversify business? As you do this remember you don't get a pay rise for doing the job you were hired to do. You negotiate a rise from a position of strength which must be based on the extra value that you now bring to the table. Using evidence, statistics and solid examples backed up with numbers, commit your evidence to paper. This, your project research, moves you one step closer to starting the negotiating process.
Timing is everything
After considering your personal position, consider the position the company is in and take your time to assess if now is the right time to have the conversation. Look for telltale signs that things are improving. Has your company just landed a big project, secured extra funding, hired new staff and/or brought in new clients. If it looks like the company is going through a period of growth, then now is a good time to plan your strategy.
Know your market value
You must establish your professional worth. Ask friends, colleagues or family members in the same industry, or who have friends in your industry, what the average wage is for somebody doing your role. Check out job and recruitment websites to make similar comparisons. Once you know your market value you can compare your current salary to where you want to be.
Only then decide on a figure that you feel is fair and reasonable given your contribution to the company, your title, industry experience and responsibilities. Ask for more than you expect to receive, assuming that your boss will most likely negotiate down. A good rule of thumb is to stay within 5-10K above what you actually want.
Consider Other Perks
The art of negotiation, above all, involves the ability to consider all options!! So aside from money, what other things are important to you? Would you consider additional paid, extra annual leave, flexi-time, increased pension contributions, a four-day week while keeping your current salary or maybe added paid healthcare? You might also consider time off or a paid contribution to study or upskill as an option. While not hard cash, these are valuable commodities that might be more achievable for your company to deliver.
Focus on your pitch
Once you are comfortable with this information give yourself three weeks to focus your pitch. Remember you are not entitled to a pay rise based on years of service, because you are doing your job or because you think you should get one. No. You deserve a pay rise and are in a position to negotiate one, by going beyond your job description.
Pitch your story of why you deserve more money in a matter of fact way. Present your evidence clearly and concisely, devoid of emotion or personal context. Remember, while your boss is a person, your rent, financial hardships, holidays, etc., is not their concern. Stick to professional facts unless asked otherwise.
Never issue ultimatums. A bad attitude, aggression, becoming emotional or threatening to leave unless you get a rise is pointless. Irrespective of how you feel, have a professional to professional conversation. If refused, use your market research to reiterate your stance politely. If this doesn't work, accept that now is not the right time. Ask your boss to commit to the conversation in 3, 6 or 9 months time.
The simple facts may be that the timing is just not right. This does not mean that you are any less of a valued and respected employee. There may be reasons that you are not aware of that prevent it at the moment. Continue to prep yourself internally and build your reputation. If you are really disappointed look to new roles elsewhere. But if you feel you are in the right company, where there is potential for growth, keep your options open.
By Sinead Brady