Boss Lady

10 things to never say when asking for a pay rise


Recent findings from Save the Student have concluded that female graduates think they are worth 14% less than their male counterparts. This isn’t surprising, as previous research has also showed that women lag behind men when asking for a pay rise and tend to be more hesitant.

It’s no secret that women still earn less than men but we’re still reluctant to ask for a salary increase. Women are sometimes cautious about asking for a pay rise because they don’t want to come across as pushy. Unfortunately there is a stigma that women who are assertive at work are often perceived as too aggressive and sometimes punished for it.

Asking for a raise is usually uncomfortable but still necessary. Here are 10 of the things you should never say when you are asking for a raise so you still come across diplomatic and professional:

“I quit!” (Unless you are prepared to.)

It will result in your employer feeling cornered, and have them questioning your long term devotion to the company.

“I want it now”

Yes, women should be more assertive but not overly demanding. If you have asked for a raise straight after your company has announced poor financial results, it will indicate you don’t have the best interests at heart. Again it won’t show that you care enough about the company and decrease your chances of getting a raise.

“I deserve 200k a year.”

Keep your expectations realistic. Research a number of job ads similar to your position and assume the average salary as your expectation.

“I demand a raise.”

Length of service alone is not a strong enough case for a salary review. Rather negotiate for that raise and demonstrate why you feel you deserve one. What changes have you implemented? Have you exceeded targets?

“I want X.”

This is the golden nugget of negotiating salary. Don’t reveal your number first as your boss may be considering offering you more than you would have requested. Also don’t be afraid to request more than what they offer if you feel their offer is unreasonable (remember your research is key here).

“It’s all about me.”

Remember you are still an employee- It’s not actually about you, it’s about the company. Draw attention to what you have brought to the table, and what you will continue to offer.

“And another thing….”

If you are asking for a raise don’t ask for other things at the same time. It complicates the negotiation process and works seldom. Just focus on one point and negotiate well.

“But they get more than me.”

What other people get is not your business and in most cases you should not be discussing salary with colleagues. Focus on your qualities and experiences and forget about others.

“But my recruitment agent told me…”

Recruitment agencies make money from you switching jobs, so nine times out of ten they will tell you that you could earn more- it’s their job but that doesn’t mean it’s the going industry rate.

“But I’ve just bought a house/ car/ boat etc.”

Your personal circumstances changing isn’t justification for a salary increase as this is your lifestyle choice.

About Ciara McGrath

Ciara McGrath is Head of HR and Talent for the Instant Group. Ciara joined the Instant Group in 2016 to lead their HR and talent function. She previously worked as a Talent Management Consultant helping organisations of all sizes realise their business strategy via their people. Her most recent role was as Head of Talent for a global outsourcing company. Ciara is passionate about developing strong leadership capability and putting in place learning pathways to deliver high performance at all levels as well as future leaders.

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