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How to ask for more money with confidence

The topic of money can be a tricky one to approach so what can you do to increase your confidence in asking for and talking about money? And what steps can you take to improve your chances of a positive outcome? 

Ask yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Nervousness about talking money can have many causes – a lack of self-esteem, reluctance to break cultural norms, fear of being seen as mercenary or fear of rejection. But it’s worth remembering that making sure you’re paid fairly is a basic right, and it makes good business sense too. Done right, demonstrating your negotiation skills will show commercial savvy that will impress your boss.

Prepare, prepare, prepare…

Start by looking back over the past year and thinking about where you have over-achieved. Look at your job description and think about when you have performed over and above that. Ask: what projects have you been involved in that have been real successes? List the impact you’ve had – on your team, the business and the bottom line.

Pick your battles 

Go to the meeting with a good idea of what you’re worth – and a good awareness of what you potentially deserve and are currently missing out on. Don’t negotiate for the sake of it – just to prove you can. 

Robert Walters’ own Salary Survey can be very useful here. In addition, most industries are supported by publications and bodies which provide regular salary reports. It’s a good idea to speak to a recruiter you trust too. Recruiters deal with salary negotiations on a day-to-day basis and can give you guidance on what to ask for. 

Practise with someone you trust 

Role-playing what you want to say, and how, is a great way to grow your confidence for the meeting ahead. Discuss what you’ll say with a partner, mentor or friend(s) you trust. 

Don’t make it personal 

Another way to take the heat out of the conversation is to imagine you’re acting on behalf of a third party,  Ask yourself  “How much should someone doing that job, sitting in that chair, be on? Given the role and the budget, how much should they be paid?” 

Time it right 

Timing is vital when it comes to broaching the subject of salary. Ensure you time it around when the annual pay review occurs in your business. 

Keep it focused 

Don’t try to combine your pay issue with another discussion. Call a specific meeting about your pay – don’t tack it on to a meeting about anything else It’s very important that things keep to the point and don’t digress.

Learn the dance of negotiation

You don’t have to be a master negotiator to close the deal, but knowing the basics can help you a great deal:

  • Listen hard: Active listening shows respect and builds trust. 
  • Acknowledge objections: An objection such as “we just don’t have the budget” is often used as a way to try and bring the negotiation to an end. But you can keep the conversation going by acknowledging the objection, repeating it back to your manager, and asking additional questions until a compromise or an alternative solution might emerge. These additional questions might include: “Do you know when budget might be made available for this?” or “What are your plans for growing and developing the team?”
  • Pace yourself: Don’t feel pressured to jump at the first figure that’s put in front of you. Your manager probably has a final figure in mind, and – like yours – it’s unlikely to be the first thing that’s offered.  
  • Own the silence: “Don’t feel the need to fill the silence with chatter and white noise – ask your question and wait for the answer. Just let the silence fill the room. It’s a classic sales technique that’s often very powerful.”
  • Expand the pie: A negotiation isn’t about bulldozing a perceived opponent into giving you everything you want. It’s about giving to get – bargaining for what you both want. So if the final figure on the table isn’t quite aligned with what you had in mind, you may be able to negotiate something else that works for you. 
  • Think it over: Even if you’re happy with the proposal, always give yourself a night’s sleep to think things over. 
  • Consider your options: If you don’t get exactly what you want from the conversation, stay calm and give yourself time to decide on your response. 
Don’t issue an ultimatum if you don’t get what you want.  Instead buy yourself some time – say, ‘I’d like to think about that and come back to you’. Stay calm and professional, and take some time to reflect.

In some cases, if you don’t get what you want it may be that the manager simply doesn’t have it in their power to do anything at the current time. In such a case put in a date for a review and ask - when do you think we might be able to move on this? Note the date and follow up accordingly.

Always end positively. Regardless of the outcome, make sure you finish the meeting on a constructive note and show your appreciation for the time you’ve been given. 

And if on reflection you’re still not happy with the outcome of your negotiation, of course, it may be time to think about looking for another job where you feel the pay is closer to what you deserve.  

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