BusinessDesk investments editor Frances Cook responds to emails from readers each week to answer questions about money. Below you'll find her expert advice. Send your own questions to [email protected].
I have only recently started listening to your podcasts, which are incredibly informative, and I personally think should be taught in school. I just have a question: I am coming up to one year at my current job, however, three months after starting the boss did give me a pay rise.
Is it greedy for me to ask for another pay rise during my annual performance review?
Great to hear you’re enjoying the podcast, and that you’ve already locked in one pay rise. You must be doing well for the boss to offer you one so soon after starting.
My general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to ask for a pay rise more than once a year. However, you’re coming up to that now, and the performance review is an ideal time to talk about such things. So, I think it’s fine to raise, as long as you’re diplomatic about it.
Knowledge is power
To help your case, make sure you’ve done a bit of research first.
Check out job listings online for similar roles. They don’t always openly list how much they’re paying, but you can use websites like whatsthesalary.com to show what the pay rate is behind the scenes.
Once you know what other employers are paying, it helps you get a good idea of whether your pay rate is fair.
When you go into the meeting, make sure the first focus is on your role and how well you’re performing in it. Pay attention to what your boss tells you the priorities are, and how you can make sure that you’re really nailing those. Nobody can do everything, but if you’re delivering on the boss’s pet projects and top priorities, that’s the most important thing.
It’s also a good idea to have a list of the wins you’ve delivered for the company. Anything you’ve done that has helped the company’s bottom line, made systems work a little more smoothly, or helped get projects over the line is a big tick against your name.
Make sure you’re in the habit of keeping a note of these things, so that when you go into a meeting like this, you can rattle off a few wins to state your case.
Because it sounds like you’re happy where you are and your boss has been looking after you, I would practise a few diplomatic lines that you can use in this conversation. Say upfront that you know you recently had a raise, but you would like to make the case for why you’ve earned another one. Then talk about the wins you’ve had lately. You're also bringing more experience to the table as you settle into this job and learn how to deliver what they want from you.
It doesn’t hurt to bring up how much the cost of living has gone up recently, although I wouldn’t make that the main focus of your argument. Mainly, focus on the things that matter to your boss and the company. I think it’s always more persuasive if you can argue your case from the other person’s point of view.
Turning no into yes
If the boss says they really can’t give you another pay rise so soon, that doesn’t need to be the end of the conversation. There are other things you can ask for, that might be almost as good as getting extra money, things like a car park, or flexible working hours, an extra week of leave, or being enrolled in a training programme.
Some of these perks save you money, or offer a benefit to your life that’s almost as good as getting extra money. It also, hopefully, wouldn’t cost the company much, so it’s a win for everyone.
If you get a no, you can also ask the boss what they would like to see from you, in order for you to earn a pay rise within the next three-to-four months. Try to get concrete goals that you can easily prove you’ve hit; things like achieving $X in sales, or finishing two projects that are a company priority.
Then schedule a meeting for three months from now, and be ready to show how you’ve delivered what they asked of you. This shows that you understand it’s a two-way street. You’re ready to deliver wins for the company, you just ask to be paid fairly in return.
As to your point on whether or not it’s greedy – absolutely not.
You go to work to be paid. I hope that you also enjoy your job and get satisfaction from it, but at the end of the day, you’re there because you’re paid to be. The company you work for is in the business of making money, and it’s absolutely fine that you, as a worker, also want to make money.
It’s good to have these conversations in a way that’s positive and takes into account everyone’s point of view – mostly because you have to keep working alongside each other and hopefully keep finding each other pleasant.
But there’s nothing wrong with checking in about the money side of things, because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all here for.
Get more money info when you listen to Frances Cook's Cooking the Books podcast here:
Send questions to [email protected] if you want to be featured in the column. Emails should be about 200 words, and we won't publish your name. Unfortunately, Frances is not able to respond to every email received, or offer individual financial advice.
Information in this column is general in nature, and should not be taken as individual financial advice. Frances Cook and BusinessDesk are not responsible for any loss a reader may suffer.