For most workers, rising inflation has not been accompanied by commensurate wage increases.
From the gas pump to the supermarket shelves, we are being hit with price increases across the board, and many will be seeking wage increases to help cushion the blow.
Before you approach your employer, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Preparation is key: Show that you deserve a raise
Asking your employer for a raise may seem daunting, but it helps to be prepared.
Kieran McKeown, CEO of Matrix Recruitment, said it’s important to show your employer why you deserve a raise.
He suggested writing down your accomplishments before your meeting.
“Focus on what you’ve brought to the company in the time since your last pay raise,” he said.
“For example, have you taken on additional responsibilities or is there an example of a successful project or campaign that you have completed?”
If so, he said this could serve you well when it comes to negotiating a raise.
Do your research: check salary guides
Next, Mr. McKeown said to do your research and get an idea of what those in comparable positions earn at organizations of a similar size.
There are many salary guides that are published annually, such as the Matrix Recruitment salary guide.
Mr. McKeown said such guidelines could provide him with strong evidence that his current salary is not in line with industry standards.
IrishJobs.ie also has a salary guide available where you can compare salaries across various sectors.
Orla Moran, General Manager of IrishJobs.ie, said it’s also worth looking at jobs advertised in your industry.
“You should be able to find the going rate for your job and the next level up, if that’s your choice,” he said.
“Take note of this figure,” he advised.
“As all salary discussions will revolve around that figure, but allow a little room for wiggle room in the negotiation.”
How to ask for a raise: Public sector vs private sector:
How you apply for a raise will depend on whether you work in the public or private sector.
In the public sector, most workers are at a pay grade where they get service-related increases until they reach the top of their band.
However, Mr. McKeown of Matrix Recruitment said that if a public sector employee feels they deserve a raise in the meantime, they can, in some cases, request a valuation or seek a promotion.
In contrast, private sector workers are more likely to get a pay raise based on their performance.
Organize a meeting: be ready to negotiate
You must choose your time wisely when it comes to scheduling a meeting with your boss.
“Don’t ambush your boss or start the conversation in the wrong place,” said Ms Moran of IrishJobs.ie.
She said that the ideal would be to have an annual or quarterly review to be able to raise the issue in that forum.
“If not, set up a meeting and tell your manager this is something you’d like to discuss,” he advised.
Once you’re in the meeting, Ms. Moran said you need to be prepared to negotiate.
“No employer will take a dim view of you attempting to negotiate, as long as you do so in a friendly and courteous manner.
“The worst that can happen is that you don’t get what you want,” he said.
Money: Have a number in mind
When it comes to how much raise you’re looking for, it’s helpful to have a figure in mind before heading into the meeting.
Mr. McKeown said this is where having done your research helps.
“It will show that you are taking this seriously, that you are professional in your approach and that you have solid facts to back it up,” he said.
“If you ask too high a figure, you run the risk of appearing naive or even arrogant and you may be denied any kind of raise.”
“On the other hand, if you ask too low a figure, you may end up resentful of working there when you know you deserve more and could be paid more elsewhere,” he explained.
McKeown said it’s normally acceptable to ask for about 5% more than you’re currently earning.
Mention other job offers: not always a good idea
If you’ve received a higher-paying job offer from another company, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to mention it to your boss in an attempt to negotiate better pay.
Ms Moran from IrishJobs.ie said she would not recommend this approach.
“It shows no loyalty and it will not benefit your negotiations,” he said.
If he’s considering taking a position elsewhere and has a genuine job offer, he said he might consider asking his company to match the counteroffer salary.
“If you’re in this position, you need to consider what motivated you to apply for a new job in the first place.”
“Maybe it really is time for you to take the next step in your career,” he said.
McKeown said this approach will only work in certain circumstances and will always be a risk.
He said to assess his audience, before starting this conversation.
“You probably know your boss well and how he is likely to react to this news.
“If they are likely to get defensive or see this as a form of ultimatum, I would avoid this approach,” he said.
But he said in some circumstances he may feel like he needs to bring it up.
If the offer is too good to ignore, he said he can decide to stay or go depending on whether or not he gets a raise.
“In this case, I would suggest explaining that you were interviewed elsewhere to explore the market, but emphasize that you would prefer to keep your current position, if possible, but want to be fairly compensated.
“In this way, you’re reaffirming your commitment, but you’re also letting your employer know that you have options available to you,” he suggested.
What not to say at a raise meeting: Don’t threaten to quit
In general, Ms. Moran said that ultimatums should not be given.
“Certainly don’t threaten to resign if you don’t get a raise,” he said.
“You will damage your reputation with your manager and you may put yourself in a situation where you feel compelled to act on your ultimatum.”
McKeown said he would advise her to steer clear of comparison with co-workers.
“Even if you know their earnings or feel like you’re taking on more than them and therefore deserve more, mentioning this is a bad idea.
“The meeting is not about them, it’s about you and why you deserve the raise,” he said.
He also said to avoid being too personal.
“Using things like rent or mortgage costs or personal debt as leverage for additional compensation puts your employer in an awkward position.
“Obviously, it’s important that your employer take an interest in your personal life to ensure your well-being, but bringing these issues up as a negotiating tool is not appropriate,” he said.
McKeown also said don’t mention inflation as a reason why you should get a raise.
“In my view, inflation is a separate issue and a separate discussion, simply because a cost-of-living wage increase affects all employees.
“Yes, it is necessary to have a conversation, but this is not the right setting for it.
“That said, everyone is aware of the rising cost of living, so it makes sense that you are also aware of this and how it affects your market value,” he said.
But he said he would avoid mentioning it explicitly as a reason for a raise, as it could backfire.
“An employer’s response might be that their expenses and cost of doing business are also increasing due to inflation,” he noted.
Salary increase rejected: What’s next?
Don’t just focus on the raise during your discussion.
Ms. Moran said that conditions such as flexible work, bonuses, commissions and overtime are elements that she could include in her negotiations.
“Working from home, for example, may not increase your pay at the end of the month.
“Still, if you do a careful calculation, you’ll be surprised at how much you save on fuel and transportation costs,” he said.
This is particularly relevant with today’s cost of living.
But if your employer cancels all your applications and you think the time is right for you to leave their organization, Ms. Moran said there has never been a better time to look for a new job.
“Our most recent employment index showed there are 44% more jobs available right now than the same period last year, with opportunities open across a wide range of industries,” he said.
Mr. McKeown shared a similar opinion.
He said you can request to have your situation reviewed again within a certain period of time, or you can consider your options elsewhere if you’re still not satisfied.
“You may want to re-evaluate what is important to you and whether staying in your current position at the current rate will result in further dissatisfaction for you and even resentment from the company,” he said.
If your employer isn’t willing to budge, McKeown said the market for job seekers right now is incredibly dynamic.
“At Matrix Recruitment, we’re seeing a lot of contract and permanent roles across all industries,” he said.
He said most people get a pay raise when they move to a new job, somewhere between 10 and 20%.
“It’s about weighing the pros and cons of what it would mean to stay and what it would mean to leave.
“Do what’s right for you, but it’s best to take a considered approach and don’t make drastic moves too quickly,” he said.
Take heart: if you don’t ask, you won’t get
There’s no guarantee his request for a raise will be granted, but Mr. McKeown said that shouldn’t stop him from asking.
“If you think you deserve a raise, always ask.
“If you don’t, you won’t get it,” he said.
Regardless of the outcome, Mr. McKeown said he will be glad he expressed his needs to his employer.
“They are likely to be impressed with his determination and professionalism,” he added.