How to Negotiate a Pay rise Successfully

Updated: Aug 6

You're almost there, you have the job, but you feel as if you have legitimate reason to flirt around the idea of a salary bump. This is a fantastic opportunity to exercise your courage and the art of negotiation. Wanting more money is nothing to be ashamed of, lead the conversation with confidence and relevance and you'll come across as someone who is valuable and deserving.

The employer has revealed their hand - they are interested in you!

At this point, it's hopeful to say that you know everything you need to know about the job you've applied for.

In which case, you're able to gauge the value of someone working that job relative to your own experience. The employer has likely provided you with an opening salary...but you want to explore the possibilities of a higher one.

Like I say, this can be taboo, but it's a fantastic test of character and determination.

Many avoid the situation because of their lack of courage, others don't even know the this window exists, but, it's an opportunity everyone should have exposure to even just a few times in their career.

Negotiations don't have to be brash, they can be well mannered, concise and compelling. You're looking for the win-win scenario, this is where the salary agreed is one that you and the employer are happy with. Let's explore how to get that!

How to Start the Negotiation

This is how it usually goes - you have the interview, you wait anywhere from a day to a few weeks and then at some get a phone call.

It's the companies recruiter, they comment that you were successful during the interview and that they would like to make you an offer, fantastic!

They confirm the position you applied for, where you will be working, followed by an opening salary and possibly a pay grade or 'code'.

Listen out here, they may add some useful information during this call, like:

  • "You were 'very' successful during the interview"

  • "You did really well during the interview"

  • "Congratulations, they really got along with you"

  • "The hiring manger was impressed!"

Any conveyance of your performance is important, it's pretty typical that you will receive feedback anyway, but it's the descriptive words you want to take note of.

These words only bolster your argument in the pursuit of a pay rise, so hold them in your back pocket and allow yourself to feel confident from these compliments! The company is letting you know that it's really keen to have you onboard.

During the call, they will ask you to verbally accept the offer (once you know the salary) Here you could ask for a short amount of time just to consider a few things, maybe an hour or even a few days.

My advice is to make it as short as possible, but if you need time to do some calculations or thinking, certainly take it.

Once you get into contact with them again, communicate that you'd like to talk about the salary, it might sound like this:

  • "I'm very happy with the offer but I'd like to talk about the salary"

  • "I'd like to explore the salary a bit further"

  • "What is the total financial benefit package, salary, bonus, pension contributions etc"

It's important to be calm but confident in your word, they will almost certainly ask for a number that you would be happy with.

Here you can say:

  • "Id be happy with an offer in the region of..."

  • "'this' amount would be great for me, but do get back in touch if that's not possible I'm very interested in the role"

  • "I would like a % increase on the opening salary if possible"

If you're unsure, it might be good to go with the 'in the region' comment to give them some flexibility, next I will talk about how to increase your negotiation power!

Increase your Leverage

After they provide an opening salary, you may want to take some time to think about it, which is totally understandable.

During this time, we need to quantify what just happened.

So take your current salary (if applicable) and your new one, and find the % difference between the two. if it comes out to over 10% but less than 30% then that's generally speaking a good pay rise (depends on industry, economic climate, area, hazard of job etc)

Find a percentage that you agree with and fight for that, as for reasoning around it you could justify it with any of the following (you don't need to do this, it depends on friendly you are with the recruiter and whether you think they will back you, they usually do):

  • "Inflation this year is high, I want to retain my buying power"

  • "My last company has provided an uplift to combat the living crises, I'd like to maintain the buying power from that"

  • "The area where the job is is much more expensive than where I currently live"

  • "The going rate for this seniority of position it 'this' I'd like to be in that region"

  • "For a mortgage, I'd really appreciate getting 'this' number"

It's important that you come across genuine and you don't give the impression that you're trying to use this to counter your current company (unless of course you are, but we can talk about that in a moment)

Following this, the recruiter will go off to the hiring manager and explain the situation, they should shortly get back to you with a new offer or a confirmation that they can not increase the initial offer.

If it's a no, then you'll just have to take that, it's not usually worth fighting past this point. But if it's a 'here's a new offer' consider it and see how you feel, it should be around your acceptable number providing you did the above step right.

It may be tempting to continue the negotiation, however, going past the first round is really pushing it, so I would make your first offer the ideal one.

One acceptation to this is if you divide the salary amount by the hours you will be working, if you can round up to a nice convenient number it may be worth trying that. Say something like "Okay, that just falls short of 'this hourly rate' if we can meet on that hourly rate I'll agree immediately'

This is a good invitation for the employer, knowing that if they say yes, you'll immediately agree is a good way to play the second round of negotiation should you want to play it.

It's important to understand the seniority level of this position too, that way you can understand whether it compares well to comparative roles in the same industry at the same levels of seniority.

Remember that thing I said earlier about if they compliment you? Although I want you to use it, I don't mean you should remind them that you did well, I mean you should have the confidence from that feedback and your voice should demonstrate that.

So use it in a kind of 'passive' way, they know you were good, which is why they are likely to fight for you.

Another thing to be sure of is say that you would like to hear back even if they are unwilling to budge, you don't want to be playing any ultimatums here!

If They Accept

Let's say they accept - great! With hope, you have the number you wanted, it's possible this number be a good percentage above the original offer, it's totally doable.

Companies absolutely expect to have applicants negotiate with them, take advantage of it.

Often times, the recruiter act as the middle person, they are impartial...however, especially if they are external recruiters, they may make a percentage commission based on your first monthly pay (so the higher the better)

For this reason, they are likely to fight for you. It's important to be compelling but also be humble and authentic when you speak, using words phrases like "I want" may come across too eager, you should use phrases like "I would appreciate 'this".

That's it! You've tested your courage and you should feel really good about yourself, if it comes to negotiation again you have a new skill and experience to draw from.

If They Don't Accept

No biggy, you still have an experience to walk away and a strengthening of your courage. If you would like to go for the original offer, then it's there for the taking

In a rare opportunity, you could declare that you are not going for the opportunity based on the salary and they may say something like "let me go back to them", but it's unlikely.

If this happens, well see what happens! But would not pursue a second round of negotiation after they decline, take their offer if you feel comfortable with it.

Increasing your Current Salary with an External Salary

This might be why some of you are here, you want to get a pay rise at your current place of employment.

Specifically, you want to do this by increasing your leverage by having an external offer. This is quite uncommon, but is used and can be quite effective!

For this, you may want to use the original offer by the hiring company to use against your current one, or you may want to negotiate a salary that is some percentage higher than your own.

Either way, the language I've stated above should remain the same, you should be as compelling and calm as if it were an external company.

The difference here is if you are unsuccessful, you my feel awkward with your manager - totally understandable.

This is where you have to have total confidence and conviction in yourself, you may be asking for a pay rise because you're aware of your colleagues pay or because your company does not pay the going rate for your job, both reasonable concerns to have.

Ultimately this is your career and livelihood you are talking about, it's important that you go with what's reasonable and right with you.

Since you're in your current job, you should have a solid and reliable record of performance you can draw from. State why you deserve the pay rise, there's usually no need to compare yourself to others.

If it doesn't go how you want, it might be suitable to declare that you are unhappy with your current salary and that it just doesn't compensate you correctly. From this point on they will understand that you will continue to look elsewhere, which you should!

My advice for any employee, is to always keep your CV current and active in the marketplace. Don't become a 'hermit' and become rigid in your own job, keep building your professional profile regardless of how comfortable you feel in your current role.

If your current employer accepts and offers you a new salary, then that's great! Make sure you go for a salary you are happy with and you should remain on good terms with your manager, they also expect conversations like this to happen.

There are usually two opportunities to negotiate a pay rise in your current workplace, it could be during an inflationary pay rise or a promotional pay rise. Inflationary pay rises are hard to increase because it's usually a flat rate applied across the relevant seniority level of the workforce.

Your main opportunity comes when it's a promotional pay rise, this is where the max leverage exists. That said, if you are generally unhappy with your salary because of whatever reason, you should explore the possibility of an adjustment.

It's important to note, being happy at your current place doesn't just come down to money. You need to consider the full picture. Calculating your hourly rate is best for this, you also need to consider the satisfaction you get from doing this job.

Ultimately, it's not all about money, but you should absolutely pursue a salary that values you correctly in your relevant skillset/industry and job requirements, many do not pursue this because of a low sense of courage, I invite you not to be that person!

Free Resource Templates

If you're applying to university/work or struggling to study, you may benefit from some of the below freebies:

  • CV's/Resumé Templates

  • Personal Statement Templates

  • Cover Letter Templates

  • Study Schedules/Planner Templates

  • More!

Head over to the FREE Resources page and you can download (to word) any of the templates shown there, new ones are released every so often, tailor them to what you need them for and good luck!

They will show you the structure and formatting of each document, along with suggested design ideas and possible wording techniques, take a look!

Best of luck on your negotiating endeavours, I hope it goes well!

Thanks for reading


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