Money, money, money...
It is a particularly British problem that we as a society dislike talking about money. But when it comes to your career, it's a topic that needs to be on the tip of your tongue if you're going to get what you deserve.
There is a consistent disparity between what people are being paid and what they should be being paid. This is exemplified by the fact that 7/10 people would likely receive a pay rise if they asked, but only 3/10 are likely to pose the difficult question.
So why are we so averse to bringing it up?
There are a number of reasons why people don't like to ask for more:
1. They think that their employer will be irritated by the request, and in the worst cases, people have some twisted idea that it will jeopardise their job.
2. People don't know what they're worth. For some reason, objectively assessing your value to a company is almost impossible. We have all faced the conversation with friends telling them to believe in themselves, and yet, when it comes to us, we can't convince ourselves of the obvious.
3. There is a belief that pay needs to be calculated in the context of colleagues. If one person is being paid X, I should be being paid Y because I can't be paid more than them.
So how do you handle this predicament?
The first thing to do is research! Find out what comparable roles are being paid. The more information you have, the more you can validate your expectations. This isn't just about browsing the internet for comparable roles, but also talking to the people around you. We have spent a long time believing that pay is something that must be kept private, but if we were all more open about it, perhaps people would be paid more reasonably and fairly.
The second step is to raise the subject. The hardest thing to do is get up from your chair, walk into your bosses office, and have "the chat". So how do you make this easier? 1. Find the right time. Making sure that neither you or your boss are in a rush or distracted helps to make the conversation go more smoothly. It will also help you to stay calm in the process. 2. Take a few deep breaths before you go in. It won't be half as scary as you think it will be. And the most important thing to remember is that the person you're having this conversation with is someone you've been working with or someone who wants to employ you. It's in their best interest to keep you on side!
When the answer is no...
It is always difficult to be told 'no', but contrary to usual sentiments, that rarely means no forever. An excellent strategy for seeking a pay rise is to ask a little before you think you deserve it. It seems counterintuitive, but the logic is this: If you ask early they will likely say no, but you've planted the seed. It also gives you the framework to prove yourself over a couple of months and ask the question again when armed with some concrete evidence as to why you deserve it. What's more, you've shown them that you're forward thinking, proactive, and that you are considering your career progression. If they have heads screwed on properly, they'll know that they will need to move to keep you in the future, and that is valuable to you.
But most importantly? Don't get down-heartened if they say no. Don't question your skills or your value. Be objective about whether the request was reasonable and if the answer is yes, make sure you revisit it when the time is right.
Career progression isn't an overnight game. You have to think about it in both the long term and the short term. Your bank balance is an excellent motivator but it isn't the be all and end all. There is value in environment, teams, bosses and skills acquisition. Don't forget that when you're planning your next big conversation!
One for the ladies...
Statistics show that women are consistently less likely to ask for a pay rise, and more likely to underprice themselves. Whatever the reasons, this needs to change. Confidence around your value is a personal choice, and although you might feel money isn't the most important thing, you should be paid properly for all your hard work. There is wealth of information online regarding pay so look it up, take advice, get yourself a pep talk from a friend or colleague, and take the leap! You're wallet will feel better for it and so will you!