How to ask for a pay raise can feel like an awkward thing to navigate. Talking about money is not something people are usually accustomed to—in fact, you probably avoid it at all costs. But when it comes to your career, having conversations about money is a necessary evil.
Put simply: You get paid for the work that you do, and if you feel as though you've outgrown your salary through consistently working above and beyond your role, you have the right to ask to be compensated for it.
Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots says: "No one ever got fired asking for a pay raise! The worst thing that can happen is you just don't get what you ask for."
Whatever has been holding you back previously, let go of it, 2019 could be your year. "Companies are desperate for skilled talent right now, so there is no better time to get paid what you deserve," Pip says.
But how do you go about broaching the subject of a pay raise with your boss? Here are some tips from experts in-the-know:
Know your worth
Pip advises that before anything else, you should work out how your salary relates to the wider market. "There's a myriad of salary surveys out there that can help you benchmark what you should be paid," she says. "Simply do a bit of Googling."
Do it in person
No matter how tempting, "don't ask for a pay raise over email," Jo Coombs, CEO, OgilvyOne UK says. "I know it can be difficult to talk about money and your own worth sometimes, but I always respect someone who is prepared to talk to me face-to-face rather than hide behind email."
Pre-warn your manager
Sally Bibb, author of The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work agrees. "If you surprise them he/she might give a knee-jerk reaction and say 'no'," she says. "Email them summarizing your request and rationale, and ask for a meeting with them to discuss."
Timing is everything
Choosing the time you talk to your boss about your salary could be key. Think about the bigger picture. For example, when do budgets for the year get laid out?
"Timing is everything," Jo agrees. "Find out when raises are granted as this will indicate the time when the most money will be in the pot, but also be opportunistic—if a peer has suddenly left your bosses may be nervous about losing someone else—it's always worth asking then."
Don't wait too long
Jo says, "A lot of people ask for a raise during their annual review—this is most likely to be too late."
And don't be greedy
Sinead Bunting, VP of Marketing Europe at Monster expresses that it's important not to "ask more than once a year as you'll come across as unrealistic, if not unreasonable, in your boss' eyes."
Think about your boss' schedule
Pip also advises to "try and find a time when your boss is stress-free and not under any time pressure. People are much more amenable to requests when they're in a good mood!"
Write a script
"The classic mistake is to whinge that you're not being paid enough and/or you need more money for your social life," Pip says. "Instead, prepare a little script ahead of your chat highlighting the value that you bring to the business, how you love what you do, but feel that you're now worth more." Jo also suggests to "prepare for every possible scenario your boss could use to not give you what you want."
Summarize your past successes and future plans
While highlighting your successes is important, don't forget to look forward. Sally says: "This reminds them you are useful to them, can be relied upon, and are proactive."
Think about your delivery
"You'll probably be nervous," Sinead admits, "but make sure to sit up straight, make eye contact with your boss and don't fidget. Confidence is key, so speak slowly and deliberately, and use hand gestures to reinforce your points if this is your natural style. Don't giggle nervously or allow your gaze to wander round the room or cover your mouth while speaking—these are all suggestions that you are uncomfortable or insecure about what you’re asking."
She adds: "Don't feel the need to fill in any silences or ramble, wait for a response to your questions and put the onus onto your manager to respond. The more certain you are of what you want to achieve and the more convincingly you can present your value, the better your chances of achieving the pay raise you're looking for."
Ask them if they need more info to sell it on
Remember that it's probably not just your boss who can give the green light. If he/she has to present a business case to people above him/her explaining the situation, then you should provide everything they need to do so. Sally does add a caveat, however, "if your boss is the sort of person who likes to give the impression that they don't have to consult their boss on decisions, then skip this step."
Remove yourself from the situation
Jo adds: "Think about it from your employer's perspective—you might feel like you deserve a raise, but put yourself in their shoes and think why they should give you one."
Practice with a friend
To stop you getting so nervous and veering off-script, practice what you want to say with a friend or partner. "It makes it easier to say it for real," Sally says.
Know what you want
"Be ambitious with what you want but also be reasonable, because you don’t want to lack credibility by asking for too much," Jo advises. "Make sure you have established the minimum you will accept and persevere if you get a no."
Be prepared to add to your workload
Pip explains: "If you don't get the pay raise, a good boss will explain how you need to develop in order to become eligible for one." Not all conversations regarding salary are as simple as "yes" or "no." It could be that you're just falling short of qualifying for a pay raise, so be prepared to pick up more work to demonstrate your worth.
And if it's a no?
"Expect some resistance and be prepared to fight your corner, but don't overdo it," Sinead advises. "If the cash you want is not available, be prepared to ask for additional benefits such as a company car, or an increased employer's contribution to your pension scheme, or even flexible working hours and extra few days' holiday can be an option." You could also use the opportunity to explore other avenues that you might benefit from, such as sabbaticals.
Going for a pay raise by applying for a new job?
"Don’t tell them your previous salary," Pip advises. "Companies invariably benchmark that number, so if you were underpaid in your past role, the cycle continues. If asked, politely state you'd prefer not to say, and explain the reasons behind your salary expectations."
And if you want to change careers altogether, remember that might come with salary considerations, too.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.