Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Asking for a Pay Rise

Asking for a pay rise can often be daunting yet VERY IMPORTNANT. I often throw my hands up after the third parking ticket of the month and exclaim, ‘I wish I was rich…that would solve all my life problems!’ Usually a nearby slightly scared friend or family member will point out that parking in the right places might also help. Annoyingly I do agree with them, sometimes you must DECREASE your spending to save money, and sometimes you must also INCREASE your earning capacity.

As a student it is often hard to do either. Living on the ‘student knife edge’ where opulence and poverty can mean the difference between walking to uni and catching a tram. Demanding a higher wage can also be hard as you may be inflexible to your employers needs due to university commitments.

Student jobs can range from flipping burgers and making coffees to part time assistant roles and office jobs but no matter what industry or position you are in all jobs work on a basic supply and demand structure. It has been said that dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs often pay best. Cleaning windows downtown pays well, but cleaning very dirty windows on the 80th floor pays better.

So, when thinking about approaching your manager or boss one good way to prepare yourself is to do your research. Ask yourself the following questions, have I demonstrated that I am competent in my role? Have I signed any sort of agreement that would limit my earning capacity? Is my direct manager the correct person to discuss this with? Or is the human resources department or store manager more appropriate? Be very careful with this questions as going above a mangers head can often damage your relationship with them and hard your chances of getting what you want.

The next thing to do is arm yourself with industry standards of pay, speak to the institution or association in the field you work in and ask them how the pay scale works. Find out where the industry skill shortages are, how you can fulfil them? Maybe you need to get another qualification, move interstate, change your pay structure from part time to casual or maybe you already have the skills and are working in the right place! Use this information to give yourself confidence when you approach your boss or maybe to realise that its time to find a new job!

When asking for a pay rise it is always good use inclusive word such as ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘I’ a lot, ‘I feel I contribute a lot and we have achieved great results’ rather then, ‘Don’t you think I contribute a lot?’ Keep in mind THEY the employer must benefit from this rise as well. NEVER justify a pay rise by telling them how your personal expenses have gone up, ‘I’m paying back my HECS’ or ‘I’ve bought a car and need more money for petrol’. You must show them how they will benefit from you remaining with them or taking on additional responsibilities and tasks, ‘I have shown through my six months of work here that I am reliable and trustworthy and can therefore close the shop or help train the new workers.’

In terms of when to ask for a pay rise, timing is everything. When approaching your manager make it clear what you want, how to get it and a time frame. Ask your manager, ‘I wanted to map out my key performance indicators required to receive a $3 an hour pay rise at my next review.’ Then stay quiet. Let them talk themselves into helping you. My father always says, ‘the first one to speak in a negotiation looses.’ As an employee it can be tempting to settle for less then you want to avoid confrontation or discomfort.

To Feature in April RMIT Catalyst Magazine