How to get yourself a pay rise
Don't ask, don't get - but when you're facing down your boss and your mouth goes dry, what then?
Ireland's recovering economy has created multiple opportunities for professionals in all industries as over three-quarters of employers plan to increase headcount in 2015.
With this good news comes hopes for higher pay - employers are upping salaries to attract staff so employees expect higher pay if they are to remain in their roles. After years of staying put in the one place, workers are starting to see new opportunities emerge, and questioning whether their current employer offers enough to keep them there any longer.
Of course, almost everyone in every profession would like more money, but securing a higher salary usually requires tough negotiation skills, and being prepared is essential.
Consider your reasons
Think carefully about your motivations before anything else. Do you want more money because you believe you deserve it, or because it will make an otherwise tiresome job slightly more bearable? In our experience, the majority of people who believe the latter end up leaving their jobs within months of their pay rise.
However, if you are happy in your position and prepared - for the time being at least - to take 'no' for an answer, then you know you are requesting a pay rise for the right reasons.
Know your worth
Before you even request a meeting you should research your market value. Look at job adverts for similar roles, and use salary guides such as the Hays Ireland Salary & Recruiting Trends 2015 to help you work out how your pay and benefits compare to others.
It will help you to identify what is a reasonable request, and showing this to your employer will also help you prove your request is justified, and that you could be offered a higher salary if you were to look elsewhere. If you're already at the top of your earnings range, it could be time you targeted promotion and discussed this with your employer too.
Time it right
Time your approach right - no boss will take kindly to being asked for a pay rise in the middle of a critical project, and you'll only harm your chances if your request comes at the wrong time. On the other hand, requesting a meeting just after you have delivered an impressive piece of work, or when you know annual pay reviews are looming, could increase your chances.
Prepare your business case
Before you approach your boss, you need to be sure of what you have done to deserve a pay rise and build a business case around it. Have you consistently met the objectives you were set? Has your role or level of responsibility changed in any way or do you have a new qualification? Every employer is different, so understand what it takes to get a pay rise in your organisation and be ready to tick those boxes.
Prepare a list of your recent achievements that exceed your objectives and the resulting benefit to the company. This gives you strong evidence to support the value you are providing to the business. These are all factors that will contribute towards your boss's final decision - and prove that you're not just being greedy.
Keep your salary review discussion professional, stay calm and focused and avoid becoming emotional. Don't bring up personal matters such as rising bills or mortgage repayments. Although your employer may be personally sympathetic to these challenges, they cannot give you a pay rise on this basis. Keep your review purely professional and be polite - even if the discussions don't go your way. Use this as a chance to sell yourself, but don't exaggerate or threaten to leave if you don't mean it, doing so will only give you less credibility.
Show your ambition
You'll want to prove to your boss that you are ambitious for a future in the organisation. Your boss may be willing to meet you half way, or may even know of a more senior role in the pipeline. The important thing is to prepare to be asked to take on more responsibility. You may even consider bringing the subject up yourself - doing so would most definitely emphasise your ambition.
Prepare to compromise
Prepare for the fact that even if they think a salary increase is in order, your employer may have a lower number in mind than you do, so think about what you would accept if your original request is not granted. You should also give serious thought to what else you would accept instead of a salary increase; do other benefits appeal to you?
Ireland's employers are increasingly competing by offering perks that cater to a better work-life balance or offer more career progression opportunities.
Would you be willing to accept an increased potential bonus, parking allowance or flexible working instead of a pay rise? Your boss may not always think to offer these, but if more flexibility is important to you and would encourage you to remain with the company, then you should bring it up.
No could mean 'not now'
No might sometimes just mean not now. To make sure your hopes of a pay rise are not simply dismissed, close the meeting by agreeing a date when you can next discuss the matter, and set clear targets for what you need to achieve in order for your request to be successful next time.
Finally, take your time. Don't rush to a decision or to dismiss a lower offer, give it some thought and make sure you reach a final agreement you are happy with.
Whether you receive the outcome you expected or not, if handled well a conversation over your salary and future at the organisation will give you a clearer idea of where you are heading and what you need to do to reach the next step in your career.
Richard Eardley is managing director of Hays Ireland
Sunday Indo Business