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How to ask for an increase when you don’t feel you are being paid your worth?

18 May, 2021

I’d like to start this blog post off acknowledging fully that there will absolutely be people reading this thinking they could not possibly consider asking for a pay increase given everything that is going on in the world right now. And, in some workplaces, perhaps that may be correct. However, if you feel deep in your gut that the last 12 months has seen you take on more work, more responsibility (perhaps from colleagues who have departed and not been replaced), and many, many more hours without any kind of recognition or salary increase, then I would still implore you to continue reading. Enter this blog post with an open mind, and one of possibility, instead of outlining all the reasons why you couldn’t possibly get what you want before you’ve even tried.

Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get started……

One of the questions I so often get from my coaching clients is around how to navigate the ‘oh so daunting’ salary conversation.

Through my 14+ years working in Human Resources and Communications I have also seen first-hand how these conversations can go so wrong when the right amount of preparation isn’t put into them.

SO. VERY. WRONG.

The tips that I am giving you are not only relevant when asking for a pay-rise in your current role or job,  but also for when applying for a new role, either in the same Company or in a new one.

Firstly though, let me tell you a story of an experience I had whilst on the phone to a potential candidate for a senior role within the Company I was with at the time….

I was on the phone to a woman, who on paper was very impressive with a solid background and an enviable amount of experience. We were discussing a relatively senior role within our organisation and we had been on the phone for about 25 minutes or so. I then asked her what her salary expectations were. We did not have a hard/fast band that we were working to at the time – instead, were open to meeting the expectations of the right person.

The woman paused for about 5 seconds, panicked and then said “I’m so sorry, I just don’t know what to say”. She then apologised again. And again. The woman then continued to say she is really unsure what to say. We then sat in silence for another 5 seconds or so whilst I waited for an answer. I then asked her if she would prefer to talk me through what she was on now instead, acknowledging fully that to move she would likely be looking for more than that. The candidate then responded saying that she would prefer not to disclose what she was on currently on. ** Cue the crickets chirping **

This, to me, is a perfect example of a missed opportunity due to a lack of preparation, confidence and an ability to sell yourself confidently.

If you really want the salary that you are asking for then you MUST follow these steps:

  1. Know both your current package breakdown AND your expected salary package figure in advance. This includes knowing your package both including and excluding things like superannuation, 401K, bonuses, insurances, shares etc.
  2. Do your research (honestly) on what the market is offering to be sure that if you are going in asking for more than your current package that you are in line with market. **IMPORTANT** Do your research truthfully. Don’t just look for jobs that help you build your case, but may not actually be ‘like’ roles. Ensure you are realistically looking at truly comparable roles in 'like' industries from 'like' sized businesses in your location. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
  3. Practise saying your salary expectations over and over again out loud and with confidence. Am I serious? Absolutely I am! Practising them out loud or into the mirror will then mean that when you need to say it out loud to someone else for the first time, you don’t panic and turn into the example I’ve just given you above. Or, worse yet, say what I so often hear which is “whatever you want to pay me is fine!”. Preparation is key, my friend.
  4. Ensure you have reflected on your non-negotiables ahead of time and know what your end game is. Are you prepared to walk away if there is a considerable difference between what you believe you are worth and what the company is willing or able to offer? Are you prepared to negotiate in terms of substituting some salary for other potential perks like more time off, training opportunities, or other benefits?  Be sure that you have thought about this AHEAD of the conversation, so you aren’t taken off guard and commit to something that you then regret later.

You may still be sitting here reading this now and have a zillion thoughts and questions running through your mind – things like….

'But, what about the market right now? Surely that will make it more difficult for me to ask for what I want?'

OR

'Is my request even fair and reasonable given some of my colleagues have just been laid off and the business is in a tough space?'

OR

'I know others who have asked and they were told no, so why should I bother?'

Don’t fret, my friend.

We might still be living in a Covid world, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting increases. It doesn’t mean there aren’t people being paid their worth. I know there are, because I work with some of these people every day.

But so often, it comes down to this - even in a Covid world, one of the biggest mistakes I still see people make when selling themselves is this – THEY DON’T!

They think selling themselves is bragging, being cocky, or 'tooting their own horn'. They especially think that given everything happening in the world right now that they should just pipe down and be grateful to have a job.

But, here’s the truth.  Talking about the value you add to a Company is not a choice - it is a necessity, especially when you want to ask for something.

If you know deep down you have taken on more and more for months now and are adding considerable value to your Company, yet feel deep down you aren’t being paid your worth, or in line with market offerings, take some time to reflect on these questions in the context of how you would sell yourself in a conversation around your salary…

  1. What unique skill-set do you bring to the table at your workplace?
  2. What are your key deliverables for your Company and what role are you currently playing in keeping it afloat, or driving it’s growth?
  3. What do you bring to the table that others do not? How do you stand out?
  4. How do you make a difference at your Company?

If, after reading this article and putting some of my tips into practise, you still feel you need more help, you now have two choices;

You could absolutely continue to sit back and remain grateful for your job, whilst slowly becoming resentful for the extra workload, hours, responsibility and stress.

OR, you can take the time to reflect, prepare yourself, and courageously step forward into an honest and open conversation with your manager about how you feel, asking for your salary to be considered based on the value you know you are adding.

Your call  – what will it be?

Here is the link to my E-book created specifically to help you get what YOU want at work, and with copy and paste templates from real life success stories to get you on your way!

Or, if you want a more targeted approach to not only negotiating what you want at work, but generally working our exactly WHAT your unique value is, your strengths and your unique selling proposition, book a call with me HERE

Much Love,
Keen advocate for helping you get out of your own way!

Author
Claire Seeber is a self-proclaimed travel addict, mini-sausage dog mumma, avid blogger, a lover of a good glass of pinot noir and believes a solid belly laugh should be part of your every day.

She is also a professional coach, speaker and People and Culture consultant. Claire started her business in 2017 whilst working full time as General Manager of HR for a large retail business. What she loves the most about the work she does is being able to work with passionate, motivated and courageous people who genuinely want to reach their full potential and are ready to put the hard yards in to get there.

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