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5 Steps to Take When Asking For a Pay Rise in 2021

David Law

Tue, 16 Feb, 2021

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes

Everyone wants a pay rise— but no one wants to ask for it. Facing that conversation takes some courage, savvy, and prep work even in the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic? It may seem near impossible.

Despite graphs showing a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases and life feeling (mostly) normal, the pandemic has radically altered the outlook of most Australian companies. Nowadays, most businesses are doing their best to recover, adapt, and patch up their losses. All while new outbreaks and lockdowns cast doubts on any plans to return to normal.

This context makes it harder than ever to show up at your boss’ office asking for an increase in your salary. But, while this train of action may not be right for everyone, there is a way to go about negotiating your salary.

The first thing that matters is your company’s current situation. Many businesses are struggling to keep existing employees and looking to reduce costs. Most employees haven’t seen a pay rise in 2020— and that isn’t likely to change as long as the organisation is struggling. 

However, some jobs went into high demand during the pandemic. IT security specialists, digital marketers, and web designers are coveted to help companies adjust to the ‘new normal’. If you work in one of these areas, you may be in a privileged position to negotiate. 

Whether your skills are in demand or not, there are some smart steps you can follow to draw up your action plan and get a pay rise.

5 steps to ask for a salary increase in the pandemic.

At the core of any strategy to ask for a pay rise are two elements: understanding the company’s current situation and knowing the value you bring to the table.

During Covid-19, this is an especially sensitive topic and your success will depend on whether you’ve assessed the situation correctly. So take your time to investigate and build up an evidence-based, well-thought-out case. 

1. Don’t skip the research.

You need to gather all the information available to build a solid argument. Think about it as a business pitch— you are selling the idea that you deserve a pay rise. To do that, you need to know what the market for your skills and experience looks like and whether you’re performing above average. Talk to colleagues and recruiters to get a better idea.

In addition to preparing your case thoroughly, make sure to let your boss know you plan on broaching the topic in advance. An email stating you want to talk about your position and compensation allows the other party to prepare as well.

This makes it possible to have a productive conversation where no one’s taken by surprise and everyone knows what they can bring to the table.

2. Focus on your performance.

Your pitch should be data-driven. Collect information on your day-to-day achievements and the tangible wins you’ve brought to the company in the last year. 

Have a way to prove your points. You’d be surprised to know your manager is probably not as aware of your strong performance as you are— having documents to back your claims goes a long way. The same goes for past feedback from clients and team members.

You need to explain what it takes to do your job well, how you track your accomplishments, and how far you’ve progressed.

You should present your current performance and your expectations within the context of your career. Explain your long-term goals and how your role fits into that progression. Then, it’ll be easier for your boss to understand your motivation and the growth you’re looking for.

3. Understand your value.

Not only do you need to know the high points of your performance, but you need to understand your current market value. 

Research to find out the average salary of someone with similar skills and in the same position as you. Tools such as LinkedIn Salary or Glassdoor can help you get an idea. However, keep in mind that online numbers may refer to pre-Covid times. Talking to people in your area might be a more accurate option.

With industry figures in mind, you can adjust your expectations and justify your request to your boss.

4. Be considerate.

Don’t rush to get a reply. As well as giving your manager notice before you bring up the topic, you should allow them time to reflect.

Let the stages of the pay rise conversation happen naturally. It’s important to stay patient and understand that big changes need a lot of careful thought these days.

When you discuss your salary, be confident but stay calm. A self-possessed attitude reflects well on your professionalism. Go the extra mile and send your boss an email summary to help them remember the points you’ve gone over.

5. Know your options. 

These are hard times— not getting the pay rise you’re after is a very real possibility. 

If your boss refuses your request, have a conversation about it. Before you even bring up the salary topic, you need to know what other options you’re willing to accept.

Perhaps the company is struggling to keep employees on the payroll or meet revenue goals at the moment. They might still be able to offer other forms of compensation or benefits. For example, you could negotiate more flexible work terms, further training or bonuses, or even longer leave.

If no other options are available, you can choose to return to the topic at a later date. In this case, pay attention to the company’s situation to get a feel for the best moment. You should also keep track of your achievements and any improvement in your performance. Build up your case in the meantime.

You deserve a satisfying career that challenges you, develops your skills, and makes your ambitions thrive.

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