BOOKS: Slave to fortune - Asking for a pay rise can be tricky Alison Eadie enjoys a guide that is full of wage-boosting tips.

BOOKS: Slave to fortune - Asking for a pay rise can be tricky Alison Eadie enjoys a guide that is full of wage-boosting tips. - How to Get a Pay Rise; By Ros Jay; Prentice Hall; pounds 9.99.

by ALISON EADIE, management columnist for the Daily Telegraph andSunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

How to Get a Pay Rise; By Ros Jay; Prentice Hall; pounds 9.99.

Americans do it better than the British. Men do it better than women. It is asking the boss for a pay rise and, according to this book, three out of four people have never done it. Such timidity seems extraordinary.

In the old days you did not have to ask. Jobs were graded and you got the going rate, plus a bit for length of service. Nowadays, organisational structures have been swept away and pay is based on performance and your worth to your employer. In a perfect world, if you perform well your boss will reward you accordingly. In the imperfect world we live in, if you don't ask you don't get.

There is plenty of useful advice in Ros Jay's book, which is written in a clear and colloquial style. How to Get a Pay Rise covers not just how to ask for more money but how to position yourself in advance to increase your chances.

Forward planning is essential. First, you have to make sure you are worth it: are you good at your job and could you do it better? Second, you have to find out whether you deserve more. That means asking people in the same organisation and in external organisations what they are paid. If you are squeam-ish about this, you will have to find roundabout ways of asking.

Third, you must work out how much you want and be able to justify it. Finally, when you get the chance, collar the boss.

Occasionally, the book strays from matters of pay. The chapter on how to be creative, including sections on random stimulation and wacky doodles, did not seem strictly relevant. As Jay herself points out, there are plenty of books on business creativity if you want to explore this theme. There is also not much on what to do if your carefully laid plans founder and the boss simply says no. After all, there is not much you can do if your boss does not appreciate you. You either put up with it or you leave.

The chapter on how to create a job for yourself is apposite. Organisations are constantly changing, so you can make your own opportunities for promotion rather than wait around for the next vacancy.

Whether we find it hard or not, we have to know our worth and how to sell ourselves. Prevailing management theory tells us we are responsible for our own careers nowadays. It therefore follows that we are responsible for our own salaries. This book will help the timid and the squeamish (and the women and the Brits) fight their corner.

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