While salary should not be the most important thing, it is a contributing factor to your overall satisfaction and engagement at work. Statistics show that 3 years after joining a company, your salary is going to be out of sync with the market. Due to pay increases at year-end review, being on average lower than those you can get by moving externally, at some point you are going to need to ask for a pay rise. But how should you go about doing that?

Document your achievements

A very simple question you need to ask yourself when you start this process. What have you done that makes you worth more money? Your salary is a value exchange, so if you want more, you must show you are worth more. The best way to do this is to ensure that you track your accomplishments. What projects have you delivered? Have you streamlined processes or saved the company money? Are you doing significantly more work than when you started? Document everything to build the picture as to why you are now worth more.

Know your worth

Before you formally ask for a pay rise it is important that you actually know your worth. There are two ways to go about this. The most common way is to explore outside opportunities and get an offer. If it is similar to what you are on, then you know you are fairly paid. If it is much higher, than you know you are not.

The other way is to make use of the multitude of online resources showing salary data. You can look at job adverts for similar roles and see what salaries are on offer. You can also go to websites like Glassdoor to see what average salaries are in your field. Remember to have some perspective when benchmarking yourself, if you are 1 year out of university, your salary is unlikely to be the same as someone in your field with 10 years’ experience.

Consider your company’s financial situation

You also need to consider the practicalities of your desire for a pay rise, given your company current performance. If your company are cutting costs and making redundancies, its highly likely that your company are not in a position to meet your request. Likewise, if they have had a record year and great bonuses, it is more likely to be given. If things are not going well for the company, you should offer to solve some of the challenges, and tie that outcome in to a new salary.

Keep your emotions in check

Its vital to stay unemotional and factual during the negotiation. The worst thing you can do is let your emotions lead your actions. You need to build your case on a factual basis. You can not make a plea to your employer based on emotions. You may be having a child, or maybe your mortgage payments have gone up, that does not make you worth more money. You can’t become frustrated or react negatively.

You also need to understand, that these negotiations may take several weeks or months. Most large companies have a fixed pay cycle, so if you are looking for an off cycle pay increment, this needs to go through a number of additional approvals. Its easy to make an ultimatum out of frustration, but its something you should avoid at all costs. If your company can’t give you what you want, they are going to start to look to replace you in an ultimatum scenario.

Be prepared to leave

Finally, you need to be prepared to leave. If you know you are underpaid, and your current company are not willing to pay you your worth. Then you need to make a decision. You may decide that due to the work life balance at your firm, and the type of work you do, you are OK being underpaid. But, if you want to be paid your worth, its highly likely you need to be prepared to go somewhere you are valued.