Cost of living: Five tips when asking for a pay rise

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Two women in an officeImage source, Getty Images

If you feel like you're not getting paid enough, you're probably not alone.

While average wages have been increasing, they haven't been keeping up with the rising cost of living, which means many people are finding it harder to get by.

Recent months have seen waves of strikes, with tens of thousands of workers walking out in disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.

Many of these strikes are taking place in the public sector, where workers often do not have the power to negotiate individually.

And whether you work in the public or private sector, even if you do have a conversation with your manager there's no guarantee that it will result in a pay rise.

However, there are ways to give yourself the best chance of success.

We spoke to recruiters, a manager and a workplace psychologist to get five tips on how to best negotiate for more money.

1. Choose the right time

Jill Cotton, a career trends experts at jobs site Glassdoor, says scheduling a talk in advance will allow you and your boss time to prepare, and means you're more likely to have a productive conversation.

"Don't spring this on your line manager," Ms Cotton says. "Be upfront and say that you want to book in a conversation that is specifically about pay."

Rowsonara Begum, who helps her brother run Saffron Indian takeaway in Salisbury, says it also needs to be the right time for the business.

The takeaway has five members of staff and occasionally takes on additional workers during busy periods.

Image source, Rowsonara Begum
Image caption,
Rowsonara Begum says workers seeking a pay rise should ask at a good time

She says if workers pick a time when the business is doing well, they will have the best chance of successfully negotiating more money.

2. Bring evidence

If you're asking for a pay rise, you should have lots of evidence of why you deserve one.

"Know what you've achieved either from a work setting or what you've done to develop yourself, maybe to support your team, support your line managers. List all the pros of what you've done," says Shan Saba, a director at Glasgow-based recruitment firm Brightwork.

This evidence also helps your manager rationalise why you should be paid more, according to Stephanie Davies, a workplace psychologist.

"The brain needs a 'why' - why should I pay you this amount?" she says.

However, it's not just about bringing a list of all the things you've done. You should also be clear about what you want to do next, says Mr Saba.

"If you have aspirations of moving up through your organisation, have a plan of what you're looking to do over the coming year."

3. Be confident

When asking your boss for more money, it helps if you're confident and know your worth.

That's something Ms Begum has noticed, from her experience of having these talks with staff.

"Here in Salisbury, it's quite difficult to get the staff we need," she says.

"It's also become harder to recruit from overseas. So workers have negotiating power because they know there's a shortage."

Often people don't feel confident because there is a "stigma" around talking about pay, says Glassdoor's Jill Cotton, but it's "an important part of work".

Women and people from minority backgrounds can often find it particularly hard to ask for more more, adds psychologist Stephanie Davies.

Her advice to them is to ask for a mentor or role model, who can help guide them through those conversations.

4. Have a figure in mind

Most experts agree it's best to have an exact figure in mind before embarking on a conversation about pay.

Do your research, advises James Reed, chair of recruitment firm Reed.

"You can go online and look at job adverts and see what other comparable jobs are being recruited for and what the salaries are," he says.

Ms Cotton warns the figure should be realistic.

"We would all love to be paid millions of pounds every single year. But we are being paid to fulfil a role with the skillset we have," she says.

5. Don't give up

If the above steps don't result in a pay rise, try not to be disheartened.

"Sometimes these conversations can take a while, even months, but it's important to keep the communication open," says Ms Begum.

Pay is also not the be-all and end-all, says Mr Reed.

"It's not just necessarily about money. You might be able to get more holiday or more flexibility around working hours," he says, adding you could also negotiate extra training and development.

And if you don't feel you're getting what you want from your employer, remember, there are other opportunities out there.

"You can always look elsewhere, that's the really big lesson," says Ms Davies.