How to negotiate a pay rise

Gender Pay Gap


There’s been a lot in the news of late about equal pay following the revelations about the gender gap with regard to top on-screen talent pay at the BBC. Sir Philip Hampton, the co-chair of the government’s review into getting more women into senior jobs is reported to have said part of the problem is women not asking for pay rises as much as men.

This has caused an outcry, given it suggests women are to blame for issues which are part of a much broader problem of structural discrimination. Research shows a conflicting picture on pay rises. A US study last year showed women were just as likely to ask for a pay rise, but less likely to receive it. Other studies show the opposite and there is evidence that flexible working may make workers more reluctant to ask for pay rises.

Despite the ongoing public sector pay freeze, reports suggest that the skills shortage in many sectors means employers are prepared to negotiate to get the people they need. provides some tips on how to negotiate a pay rise.


The first thing to note is that there is no standard way of asking for a pay rise. There’s no training attached or process to follow. This can lead to difficulties because many people handle it poorly and wind up losing face and failing to achieve their objective of earning more money.
So the first thing to do is to prepare.


The importance of knowing your value and the relative pay scales for your grade within the industry is key. There are plenty of salary checkers on the internet to consult. Try and remember to consider your location as well. Jobs in the capital still command a premium. Remember to take into account the economic outlook, but if comparable jobs are being recruited in at a higher starting salary than you are currently on, you may have a case for a pay rise. Know what the rate of inflation is and factor that in in negotiations.

Demonstrate your value:

Once you’ve compared your salary levels across your industry and within your business and checked the rate of inflation, you need to put together an impressive pitch on why the company should reward your performance.
List your individual achievements and detail everything. It may be helpful to consult past appraisal documentation. Quantify your performance to demonstrate how you have helped to drive up profits etc or improved customer satisfaction. Having this information at your finger tips will also help to boost your confidence.
Another way to argue successfully why you should have a pay rise is to ask for extra work and responsibility and link this to a reason as to why you deserve better pay. Business advisers say that if you can’t argue the case that this should happen today at least try to negotiate a point in the future when the matter should be negotiated, for example, six months into the new job role.
Another positive approach is to ask for a performance related bonus or pay increase subject to achieving more, based on standards or output greater than current or expected levels, says the website. This again should be received positively by the employer because you’re offering something in return, and not simply asking for more money, which most people tend to do.

Practice the pitch:

Once you’ve decided upon your strategy, the next thing to do is to practice your pitch. That means understanding what motivates the person who will make the decision and the benefits to them of paying you more.  Don’t be put off by market conditions but be aware of them, including skills shortages in your sector.

Being honest can help, especially where bosses are unaware of how hard you are finding it to keep up with the cost of living.

Remember to include the last time you had a pay rise. Your boss may simply not be aware that your pay was last reviewed five years ago, for example.

Once you’ve fine-tuned your pitch it is time to set up the meeting.

Schedule a meeting & negotiate:

Picking the right moment is paramount to the success of your pitch. Choosing a time when the boss has just received some bad news on profit levels or customer feedback is not the time to storm in demanding a pay rise.
When the time is right, sell the meeting as a time to review objectives, performances and achievements rather then simply as a forum for airing your frustrations at the pay grade.
Request a face to face meeting and enter the meeting with a positive frame of mind. Negativity and complaint will do little for your reputation or your case. Also accept that your boss may not be the one who can make the final decision so check what the process is and the layers of management that your boss needs to go through. Clarify timescales with them if this is the case.
Be prepared to negotiate, present your pitch and remember to include all the research you have undertaken.

Confront a ‘no’:

If the response is a plain and simple ‘no’ you must accept this. If you face a ‘no’ because the company is struggling and can’t afford it but does value you then consider negotiating some non-financial benefits including some more paid leave, a subsidised gym membership etc.
If you have been turned down because the management doesn’t believe you have attained a level where a pay rise is  justifiable,  agree what steps you need to take to get there next time. You may also have to negotiate your way to some training and development to get you there.

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