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November 5, 2014

Want a pay rise? Here are our tips for negotiating one

Fundraising recruitment consultant Tim talks us through his thoughts on the process in our blog this week.

It seems that asking for pay rise is a cringe inducing conversation for many people so much so that many would even prefer to move jobs rather than have bring it up with their manager.  But burying your head in the sand until that burning sense of resentment builds to crisis point is avoidable. Here's how.

Avoid the whole question

As obvious as this may sound, not having to ask for a pay rise is the easiest out. If you're in the position of having either a new role or a new manager, one of the first things on your tick list should be asking for a clearly defined route for progression.

Often roles will be recruited on a banding; having an outline of how to progress up that banding from the outset will leave less room for ambiguity further down the line. If there isn't a banding then talk about getting a framework put in place, if that's a dead end then suggest an annual salary review, at which point you will be in an easier position to have a frank conversation.

Pre-ask preparation

But let's say that none of this happened, that you've been in the same role on roughly the same salary for the last 18 months whilst everyone else around you is (seemingly) getting obscene pay rises. The first thing to ask is. have they?

Whilst asking your colleagues what they're currently earning is probably a conversation that's going to be further down the list than asking for a pay rise, in most industries there will be organisations (typically recruitment companies, or industry publications) that will conduct salary surveys, failing that,  track salaries with similar jobs (ideally with competitors) on industry job boards.

Once you have some evidence that you're getting paid less than the average  the next step is to start to think about what you've brought to the organisation that shows you're worth it. Arm yourself with a portfolio of examples than demonstrate where you have gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring in exceptional results, save money or improve quality (assuming you have some),  avoid citing examples of things that form part of your day to day job description, then all you need to do is ask.


When to ask is going to be crucial, if your organisation is going through redundancies then it's probably best to park the idea until the dust settles. Equally teeing up the conversation with your manager by inferring that you have something important to talk about is a good start, they'll (hopefully) block out enough time for you to go through things properly and get their mental cogs whirring about the fact that something is amiss.

The ask

You've got your meeting booked, the charity is doing well and you have evidence that you're both being underpaid and you're an indispensable member of the team that consistently performs to the top of your ability, what next?

Avoid giving an ultimatum as you're going to end up with one of three outcomes, the most positive of which will be actually getting your pay rise, but doing so by putting your manager under duress is going to leave a bad taste in their mouth. This may well play a part in their decision for future, organic, promotions. The second is that you have to make a U-turn and end up in the same position but with a failed attempt hanging over your head, and the final scenario is that they call your bluff and you find yourself looking for a new job, you may want to do this anyway but leaving on this note is unlikely to do your references any favours.

Instead present the evidence you have, explain what the industry standard for your role is and ask for a increase to a level that bring it in line to what is fair. The expectation that you'll leave the meeting with a higher salary is probably unrealistic, there is likely to be paperwork to be completed and red tape to be cut (if not then you may well ask yourself why it was so easy).

If after all that you hit a brick wall try asking 'What do I need to do to get a pay rise?', this is a great opportunity to get yourself in line for some career development. If your manager says you need to have experience with X, then ask for the chance to prove yourself, if it's a qualification in Y, then ask for some training.

The backup plan

...and if all that fails, maybe its time to buy a lottery ticket.



Tim Barnes is a recruitment consultant at Charity People where he specialises in Fundraising roles. You can find out more about him and the roles he recruits here.



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