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How to negotiate your worth

This article was originally written for AIA Vitality.

When was the last time you considered your salary and compensation structure? Are you happy with it? Is it meeting market standards?

Having worked in talent management and recruitment for over ten years, I’m no stranger to the fact that talking about salaries and negotiating your worth can be daunting. Here are my tips on how to navigate the situation, and secure that pay rise.

Make the first move

If you don’t ask, there’s always someone else who will. Focusing solely on the work and hoping your manager will bring up a pay rise discussion isn’t the way forward. Instead, once you feel you’re backed by sufficient supporting evidence, get a date in the diary with your boss! It doesn’t matter if that’s six months after starting with the company or six years. If you know you’re smashing it, it’s time to have the conversation – don’t put it off.

Prepare your case

If you’re considering asking for a pay rise, the likelihood of success depends predominantly on preparation. You need to ensure you’re walking in with a bank of tangible evidence that shows your boss exactly what value you’re adding to the business. Start collating positive feedback from clients and colleagues about your performance, make a note of any award wins you’ve had, work out how much you’ve exceeded your KPIs by, quantify the business value of any new clients or accounts you’ve brought on board.

After doing this background research, make sure you have a specific figure in mind before going into a meeting with your boss. The more prepared you are with facts and figures, the more likely you’ll prove you’re worth that pay rise.

The value of language

The way you communicate what you want is also important. Make sure to use ‘I’ in any conversations around salaries. You’re not there to negotiate an increase on your colleagues’ behalf, so ditch ‘we’ and really own your achievements: ‘I excelled, I achieved, I would like.’ These are all phrases that show you’re speaking with real conviction and believe in both yourself and what you’re asking for.

Practice makes perfect

Prepare and practice your pitch in front of the mirror, friends, a partner or your family. There’s nothing worse than taking the leap and organising a meeting, then fumbling through it due to lack of conviction and nerves. If you can’t articulate yourself with real self-belief or you feel like it’s selling you short, then you might need to reevaluate. It’s far better to do that pre-meeting than let it throw you off balance once the discussion’s already underway. Don’t forget to clarify things like when you’d ideally want the increase to be effective from and whether it’s inclusive or exclusive of super, as these are questions that can often catch people off-guard.

Fringe benefits

Money definitely isn’t the be all and end all. There are other non-monetary perks which you could incorporate into your negotiation talks. Additional paid annual leave, the freedom to take a sabbatical after a number of years’ service, flexible working hours, work from home days, and paid wellbeing classes are just some examples worth considering.

Candidates are rightly asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ when they’re thinking about both their current role and new opportunities. Employees see training packages as a way to grow their knowledge, expand their skill set and support their future career progression.

You can’t always get what you want

At the end of the day, your employer is well within their rights to reject your request for a raise – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right decision.

If they say it’s not going to be possible at that point in time, press them for a date when the raise might be up for debate again and arrange another meeting. If it’s a flat out ‘no’, without any sign of an opportunity to renegotiate in the near future, then it’s time to think hard about whether this is the place for you long-term. There might be another company out there with all the attributes you’re looking for – plus a salary package that’s aligned more closely to your own self-worth.

You never know if you never ask.


Image by Courtney King.