Top tips on how to get a pay rise from your boss

PLUCKING up the courage to ask your boss for a pay rise? With the worst of the pandemic behind us and the UK facing shortages of workers, many businesses may now be open to rewarding those who are loyal. 

Here are top expert tips to enhance your chances of success when negotiating with him or her.

Face to face is best


Face to face is bestCredit: Getty

Preparation is key according to Clive Rich, CEO of online law firm LawBite and author of the “The Yes Book: the Art of Better Negotiation”. 

Over a 30-year career, Clive has negotiated deals as diverse as recording agreements for pop band Take That, to cosmetics deals with Tesco.

Here’s his advice:

Meet in person 

Face-to-face talks are much better than negotiating remotely. Effective negotiators can glean a lot from observing the behaviour of participants. This is lost over the phone, on Zoom or through emails. 

It’s also much easier for a boss to hide behind their screen and defend positions that they would never adopt if you were sat right in front of them.

Getting what you want

Kick things off on the front foot by suggesting a figure to negotiate around. It is usually best to go first. Research shows that most deals end up closer to the opening bid than the response.

The figure you have in mind should be the best outcome for you BUT the reason you give should be tailored to something important to THEM. 

You can also adopt a phased approach. For example, you could say: “If my salary goes up to £50,000 in two phases then that gives you the opportunity to control cost increases at this moment, which I know would be beneficial to the business”.

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Know who you are dealing with

Be it your line manager or your CEO, you need to choose your negotiating behaviour to work with the person on the other side of the table.

There are seven billion people in the world and they all have different triggers: some people love the energy of confrontation, others prefer peaceful talks; some love the big picture about the deal, others prefer thinking about the minutiae.

If talking to someone who loves the big picture then don’t waste time on the small stuff – leave that to HR. 

If you are negotiating with someone who is more comfortable with detail, focus on the small things that make a difference to them instead, for example by preparing a spreadsheet.

If your boss is being tough on pay, you should look to work out their underlying motives so you can find other non-cash ways to meet both your needs. 

Give and take 

The best way to get what you want is to make the other side want it too. Be clear about what you bring to the organisation and what they are getting out of your input. 

Try flattery or praise for someone with an ego on the other side of the table, or a willingness to be trained for other roles for those who want a demonstration of your loyalty. You could also agree to phase a pay increase for those bosses whose business may be in survival mode.

If you find the thought of negotiating tough…

Some groups find it harder to ask for what they want, including many women.

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One technique here is to think of yourself as doing something other than “negotiating” per se.

Research shows that women do better when they feel they are “persuading” or “influencing” rather than “negotiating”. It feels far less daunting that way.

Have a Plan B 

Failing to get Plan A over the line will not feel as desperate if you have a fall back plan.

This includes a potential role or job you would be happy moving to if the deal with your current employer doesn’t work out.

There are not enough employees around for all the jobs available in the market at the moment, so remember that the bargaining power is with you.

How low are you willing to go

Do not negotiate below your bottom line – the lowest amount you are prepared to accept.

This line is easier to set objectively up front rather than in the heat of haggling. When setting the fee, give yourself some room to negotiate downwards. 

I quit my job to teach online – now I earn a six-figure salary… and I don’t even have a teaching degree

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