Studies have found that 46 percent of workers feel they are underpaid, and that 55 percent of women and 40 percent of men have never negotiated their basic salary.

If you believe you deserve a pay rise or an increased salary offer, do not be afraid to raise the issue. A successful salary negotiation can lead to improved terms and conditions of employment, increasing your confidence and ultimately making you happier in your job. It is also a signal of your value to an organisation.

However, to some, asking for more money can seem like an awkward and nerve-wracking task. Thinking about that conversation with your boss can be off-putting, and it can be hard to know when and how to bring it up. 

Whether you’re starting at a new company or are looking for a pay rise in an existing position, we have come up with three key rules to play by in order to approach your employers in the right way and maximise your chances of success.

1. Do Your Research

Do as much research as you can. A better understanding of the role, the company and its constraints will help you propose options that solve problems for both you and your employer.

First of all, you need to understand who you are speaking to. Is it your prospective boss, or an HR representative? The former, who will directly benefit from your work, may be prepared to fight for your request more. The latter, however, who will be in contact with many other current and prospective employees, may be more reluctant to go the extra mile for you. 

You will also need to understand potential constraints on the company. For example, how many similar roles are there in the company? The more positions, the less likely a salary raise will be possible. Another constraint may be the company’s financial health, which can often be found online. The better the company is doing, the more likely you are to get a raise.

For those in a role, this is about understanding the importance of timing and choosing your moment. Salary negotiations are likely to be more successful after a strong firm or personal performance, whereas waiting until performance review season may be too late as budgets may have already been set.

It’s important to note that, even if the company like you and think you deserve more money, constraints such as salary caps may also prevent them from doing so. It is therefore your job to find out what can, and cannot, be negotiated.

2. Know Your Value, And Help Them Understand It

Ask yourself: does the salary I’m requesting truly reflect the value that I can offer? You need to understand and be confident about your worth, while being realistic about your demands. You then need to communicate this in the right way.

We recommend entering negotiation with an exact figure and quantifying your value with data. For example, any recent accomplishments at work or awards that tangibly demonstrate your contribution to the business, rather than basing your request off personal needs like an increase in rent. The bottom line is: do not let your proposal speak for itself. Build an evidence based case that proves why you are worth investing in.

When coming up with a figure, you should make sure to research the salary of similar positions in the same location in order to get an average you can base your request on. This can be done by looking at similar open vacancies on sites such as LinkedIn, speaking to peers and colleagues in similar positions, and if you’re a member of the Final Stage network, speaking to one of our Talent Guides.

3. Learn Basic Negotiation Skills

Good people skills are at the heart of a successful negotiation. Remember, you are negotiating with a person, not a computer, and you should not underestimate the importance of likeability in getting what you want.

This is about managing inevitable tensions in negotiation. For example, asking for more without seeming greedy, pointing out deficiencies in the contract without seeming petty, and being persistent without pestering. It can sometimes be useful to think about the situation from your ‘opponent’s’ perspective.

Make sure to also avoid ultimatums. Telling your employer what to do will certainly reduce your likeability and dissolve any room for compromise or middle ground.  

Even at a point of compromise, you do not need to accept the first offer they give you. It can be wise to take 24 hours to consider an offer and come back with a counter-offer if not satisfied. This is standard practice in negotiating.

If you do find yourself going back and forth, you will need to consistently showcase your skills and experiences as a form of leverage. Be your own best bargaining tool and demonstrate how you can maximise the other party’s benefit.

Closing Remarks

If you’re in a role and your initial efforts don’t get the desired outcome, it’s important to stay at the table as company constraints may change over time and what is not possible now may be possible in the future.

It’s also worth noting that compensation is becoming increasingly fluid, taking the form of stock, bonuses and other benefits, meaning that if your base rate is not negotiable, there are still many other ways of increasing your overall package.

Above all, be sure to respect your worth and if all your efforts fail, it could be a sign that you have outgrown the company and should move on to new pastures or are not right for the company you have secured a role with. Sometimes, you have to be prepared to walk away to win the deal.

Author: Sophie Adamson