Did you know that 70% of people who ask for a raise, get it? Use this guide to embolden yourself and ask for your worth!
words by samantha steele
The biggest lie capitalism ever told you is that your salary is related to how hard you work. There are many facets to that pay cheque: from market-related earnings, cost to company and leave days — to other factors beyond the rands and cents, like your experience, background, responsibilities and crucially, the impact you make in the business and ‘soft’ benefits like a short commute. All of these play complex parts in determining what you come home with and it means no raise negotiation is a simple matter.
Interestingly, though men, women and people across racial lines have different success levels when it comes to getting a raise (for example, a 2018 study by Harvard Business Review uncovered that women do in fact ask for raises as often as men, they just get them 5% less of the time) we all face the same challenge: getting management to say yes.
TIP: JUST ASK! Only 37% of people ask for a raise, according to a study by PayScale.com, a handy resource for anyone looking to understand their market-related salary.
There are broadly two times to ask for a raise, and one of them is when most people fresh out of varsity least expect it — when you finally get that job offer.
You might not feel like a raise negotiation is the best way to approach a job offer, but this is actually a crucial juncture and sets up your salary benchmark for not only this company, but your future. Most companies ask for past payslips to help determine your salary and a low starting salary at your first job could have a ripple effect across your whole career. Alexandra Marsh, talent advisor at OfferZen says that you need to prepare for a new job offer by doing research into what the market-related salary is for the position, for someone with your experience. Do you know what the salary expectation is from the company? And finally, if you don’t agree with their offer, come in with your facts and be prepared to walk away if they can’t meet you reasonably in the middle.
AT A CURRENT JOB
Asking for a raise at your current job can feel intimidating, but with the right approach you’ve got a high chance of walking away happy. Only 30% of people who ask for a raise get rejected. And of the 70% that get a raise, only 31% get less than what they asked for, according to PayScale’s global survey. So, how do you approach it?
What were your accomplishments over the past year? Did you make any noticeable contributions to the business? Anja van Beek, talent strategist and leadership coach, says you should spend time thinking about the results you achieved and the effect you had on the business. “Keep it very factual — what was your impact on the bottom line and cost savings? Marsh agrees, saying, “if you have experience, over-emphasise your accomplishments. But if you have no experience, work as much as you can in your space and industry to showcase that you love what you do and want to be here.”
Start doing some data gathering. There are many websites you can visit to look for price brackets in your roles, but always take them with a pinch of salt. The best way to get data is to ask people who are in the same role as you — but be comparative with your experience. “Essentially, the first thing you need to find out is what you are being paid and what you are looking to be paid. There are a variety of sources and there are reasons to be underpaid. Even if you’re paid market-related,” Marsh says.
- GO IN WITH A COLLABORATIVE ATTITUDE:
Don’t go in trying to “win”. Marsh says, “your employment is a relationship with another body. A company should want you to thrive and succeed and not want to make you feel undervalued. Compromise is needed.”
- RIGHT TIME?
Read the room, so to speak. If your company is going through retrenchments or is in a tough financial position, this is not a tactically savvy time to ask for a raise.
- FOLLOW THE LEADERSHIP CHAIN
Speak to your direct manager first, Marsh advises. She says, “have a one to one vulnerable conversation with your supervisor and give them the opportunity to champion for you. Having HR there could scare them and it could seem like you’re going in guns blazing.”
- GET EMOTIONALLY PREPARED:
Psychological prep beforehand is key, van Beek says. “Take a few deep breaths. Be competent and confident in your actions and think of what language you’ll use. Your intention will come through.”
TIP: “The confidence you have is the crucial part of this. You have a 50% chance you’ll get the raise, and a 50% chance of a compromise,” Alexandra Marsh says.
IF THEY SAY NO 🙁
Don’t take it personally. Start to engage. Why did they say “no”? Could you look at a timeline to get that raise? What do you need to do to be in a better position in a few months’ time? Van Beek recommends you adopt a growth mindset and think, “what are my lessons?”
TIP: There’s more than money when it comes to remuneration. Consider other ways you’ll feel valued, like more leave, flexible working hours, or up-skilling through training courses.