How to Negotiate a Salary Increase
You love your job, you work long hours, you deliver without fail and you like your boss.  However, you have a sneaky feeling that you are not getting paid what you are worth.   Before you march into your manager’s office and insist on a pay rise, prepare well for your negotiation to give yourself the best possible chance for success.
Approach the negotiation with an open and positive mindset.  The conversation should be a request for a salary review based on your performance in the role, not a demand for a salary increase.  The salary discussion is not a battle, it is a conversation and should end up being a ‘win-win’ situation for both you and your manager.  

1.  Conduct Your Research

Before you approach your manager, ensure that you conduct research to find out the current market value of your role in your industry.  You can do this by gathering information from your network of contacts that work in a similar industry and by comparing the information provided in various online salary surveys through major recruitment agencies such as  These salary surveys provide the current market rate for different roles in different industries and I have found the Robert Walters survey to be an excellent indication in the commercial environment.

Ensure that the job size, company size and extent of responsibility are on par with your job when making a comparison.
Contact recruitment consultants who are specialists in your field and talk with them about your role. Indicate your key responsibilities (including revenue and number of staff you are responsible for) to get a feel for the market value of similar sized positions.  An Operations Manager in one company can mean and hold differing responsibilities and salary to the same title in another company. 
Recognise the difference between the value of the role that you perform from your manager’s perspective and your value as an individual from your perspective.  When approaching a salary review, think of it from your manager’s perspective.

2.  Find out internal budget constraints

Many companies plan for salary increases months in advance and managers are given a % increase figure that they need to spread across their staff when considering salary increases. Conduct research to gain an understanding of what the average % salary increases are in your industry.  If you approach your manager with this knowledge it may be possible to negotiate an ‘out of cycle’ pay increase if you are willing to wait a few months.

3. Justify your request with evidence

HIghlight how well you get along with your team members, how you contribute to the positive, pro-active atmosphere.
Your accomplishments in the role will be the main selling point when it comes to a positive result in a salary review.  Make sure you prepare yourself well before approaching your manager by documenting your achievements in your role to date.  You may have increased profits, saved money, saved time, improved relationships with customers or clients, streamlined processes, improved morale, generated positive feedback and appreciation, demonstrated your creativity and innovation in your role to the benefit of the organisation.   These are your accomplishments.  Write them down so they are clear in your head.  You can talk about how you have contributed to the success of the company or department with tangible results.  This will remind your manager of your value to the organisation.  
You will not get a salary raise because of emotional reasons, you will get a salary raise because of your worth to the organisation so stick to the facts.  The manager does not need to know that you have multiple debts, a mortgage to service, school fees to pay, expenses that are going out of control.

4. Indicate how your continued excellent performance is a future investment

Discuss with your manager about how you would like to use your accomplishments as goals for continued achievement in the future. Managers know that a pay increase is not only a reward for past achievement but also for your future efforts. You salary raise will be an investment in you and not a cost.

5. Know how to negotiate a win-win outcome

When you are ready, make an appointment with your manager for a discussion. Make sure you have time set aside for a one-on-one discussion without interruptions, early in the day is a good time before things get too busy.  If you pop your head in the door of your manager’s office and ask for a discussion on the spur of the moment you will not set yourself up for success.  Always discuss your salary review face to face if possible, not in an email or over the phone.  It is important to be able to read your manager’s body language, positive or negative, during the course of the conversation.
Highlight your achievements in a broad sense initially. At this point you can let your manager respond. If they respond favourably you are in a good position.

Think of the salary review discussion as an opportunity to gain feedback from your manager on how you are performing in your role.   Gaining insight from your manager will be valuable so that you can ensure that you capitalize on the positives of his or her comments during the discussion.
If the answer is no to a salary increase, there may be other options that will be satisfying to you such as subsidised training to upgrade your skills, professional memberships of associations, flexible working arrangements, employee incentive plans.  Discuss these with your manager, keeping an open mind.  If subsidized training and participation in professional associations expand your skills sets and professional networks, this will put you in a stronger position the next time you approach your manager for a salary increase.

In summary to be successful when negotiating a pay rise, you need to demonstrate your worth and value to the company.   And remember to conduct the negotiation with professionalism and grace.

Jane Jackson is Director of Style Success, career management coaching services.  For more information visit or contact

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