DEAR CAREER ANGEL: I'm underpaid

A cash-strapped worker wants a payrise. How does she approach her boss?

by Penny Davenport
Last Updated: 26 Nov 2013
Dear Career Angel,

I am underpaid in my current role. I have done my homework outside the company and also have some unofficial stats from my department. My company does not have an official pay review cycle and I am some way off a promotion so how should I raise this with my boss?

Lucy, Cardiff
 
Dear Lucy,

Your challenge is not uncommon. We’ve been in a tough economic climate for a while and this, coupled with low inflation, means pay rises can be few and far between. But that doesn’t mean this problem shouldn’t be addressed - here are a few tips.

First, pick a good time. Plan ahead carefully and think about when your boss might be receptive to your request. Do you have a regular meeting? Make sure you are calm and that your boss is in a good place too. Don’t try to jam in a chat when he’s clearly busy. Has the company recently announced any particularly good or bad results? You might also think about great work you’ve done recently and time your request to coincide with a big win or completed project.

Second, prepare your request. What are you actually asking for? Is it realistic in terms of a percentage increase? What market data do you have? Can you really justify it? Think of every single possible repost or argument your boss may come up with and prepare a counter-argument.

Third, pay is such a personal issue but you need to keep it strictly business. Don’t get emotional or personal, or become weak or make threats. Use your data and your prepared facts sensibly. If your boss turns you down, ask for clear metrics to help earn a pay rise and try to agree these in writing.

Ultimately, if you feel you are not progressing in your current role in any sense, whether that’s career progression or financially, it might be time to look elsewhere...

Good Luck!

Career Angel

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