How to maximise your earnings: our top 5 pay rise tips

Posted in Latest News on 21 Nov 2018

Most of us tend not to ask for a pay rise. It’s usual to either wait for our employer to broach the subject or to look for a new job before even considering a conversation about salary.

Data from our Salary and Benefits Benchmarker 2018 shows 71% of lawyers received a pay rise when they last moved jobs, while there’s around a 50/50 split between legal professionals who have and haven’t received a salary increase in their current role.  

In such scenarios, the opportunity to increase earnings is missed or not maximised simply because many of us feel uncomfortable asking for money.

We often don’t know how to go about it and it ends-up becoming a very personal and emotionally-charged decision, which is easier to shy away from. Addressing this is a good starting point for preparing yourself for a pay rise and is the first of our top 5 tips.

1. Be informed and factual 

long working hours, tight deadlines and high-pressure workloads often leave legal professionals feeling like they deserve more money. Remove this feeling of worth by challenging yourself to find-out the facts. What’s the average salary for someone working at your level and in the region where you’re based? Our Salary and Benefits Benchmarker can provide the answers and allow you to make a more informed and less emotional decision about what you should be paid.

2. Keep it simple – it’s not the movies 

You don’t have to enter into intensive negotiations backed-up with hard hitting presentations to justify your case for more money. Instead, start-off by summarising in one sentence exactly why now is the time for a pay rise. Ultimately, this will provide the direction for the conversations you’ll then have about earnings. Including salary benchmarking as part of this sentence will add context to your request and help remove emotion from your discussions.

3. Keep it concise 

Once you’ve summarised the case for a pay rise, back this up with facts, but focus on impact rather than creating an endless list of all the things you’ve achieved. Pick three stand-out pieces of work or examples of where you’ve made a positive difference since your last pay increase. As you’re considering what to include, ensure in each instance you’re able to demonstrate how your work has benefitted the firm. It’s key to show you’re thinking about the firm’s value as opposed to your own.

4. Be timely – we purposely avoided making this the first tip

Sometimes it won’t be the right time to ask for a pay rise. However, although timing can be a blocker, it’s all too easy to use it as an excuse to put-off salary conversations. It’s much better to have started with your preparations, so you’re ready to go when the time is right.

Timing is crucial to when you make your request. Consider the firm’s financial health, what’s consuming the time and focus of senior leaders and what’s happening within your immediate team from a personnel point of view. If the firm is very busy or facing personnel challenges, it can be better to wait for a more natural point such as a performance review to discuss your pay rise.

5. Have a plan B  

When you get to the point of discussing your pay rise, be prepared for negotiations. It’s unlikely your request will be immediately approved and there’s the possibility it might be rejected.

You must remain focused on trying to achieve the pay rise and discussing this constructively. Whether your request is rejected, your employer makes a lower offer or simply asks for more time to review your salary, conclude conversations by agreeing a clear timeframe and tangible next steps.

The important thing to remember at this point is to keep showing your value to the firm as opposed to taking any negotiations or challenges personally. An employer is likely to look much more favourably on an employee who responds with ambition and clear determination to achieving their desired salary increase.

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