How to negotiate a salary increase

In Candidate Advice by Turner Lovell0 Comments

By Curtis ThompsonTurner

A pay rise or rate increase; we all want one, but the truth is, the majority of us don’t know how to actively achieve one. For many, the mere idea of discussing money can make us feel uneasy. Fortunately, with a little preparation and practice, it can become easier. First and foremost, we have to accept a universal truth – an increase in your salary is not a given. To actively achieve a pay rise, you need to be prepared to make your case. Undoubtedly, asking for one will be nerve-wracking, but with enough evidence by your side, you can at least prove that you deserve one.

To help boost your chances, we’re going to cover some of the do’s and don’ts of negotiating a salary or rate increase. It’s not going to be easy, but the result is certainly worth it.


Get to know your company’s pay practices

Knowledge is power. By getting to know your company’s pay structure and culture, you’ll be best placed to judge how and when to negotiate a pay rise. Things you’ll need to know include: whether there is a defined policy in place, when reviews take place, key decision makers and what’s expected of you to meet a certain pay bracket.

Time it right

Some moments are better than others. Be sure to make the most of opportunities such as the financial end of year, contract extensions or annual performance reviews. This is when companies are looking back at what’s been achieved, and are allocating finances for the year ahead. Other obvious moments for initiating a pay discussion could be any changes to your responsibilities, right after completing a successful project, or after winning new business.

Research salary reports

Find out what the average salary or rate bracket is for your job and the area you’re working in. Check market data such as salary reports, competitor salaries, colleague wages (in confidence), and recent job postings. Armed with that up-to-date information, you’ll need to be realistic – there’s no point asking for a 30% increase when you’re already being paid at the top of the industry average. Speaking to recruitment agencies will help you understand the current market and confirm if your expectations are reflective of the local and national benchmarks.

Build a body of evidence

To be in with a chance of success, you need to build a list of reasons why you deserve a pay rise. Focus on your own accomplishments: Have you created extra value for the company? Have you been integral to the success of a recent project? Are you meeting or exceeding your expected tasks/responsibilities/objectives? What extra duties have you taken on?

Liaise with your line manager first

Arrange a meeting to discuss your current salary and what you’d like to achieve in the near future. This should almost always be done with your direct line manager. Don’t go over their head – your line manager should always be your first port of call. If it’s not their decision, they’ll be able to tell you who to speak to. Ensure your manager knows what you want to talk about so they are prepared for the initial stages of the meeting and not caught off guard. As a freelancer, your recruitment agent should be willing to do this on your behalf.

Have confidence

If you’ve pulled together a compelling case for a pay increase, you should have the confidence to put this forward to your line manager in a confident way. Rehearse how you might approach the discussion, and visualise what a positive response might look like. Preparation, practice, and visualisation can be a great way to feel more confident once the time comes to negotiate.


Don’t focus on the negatives

Avoid saying things like ‘I haven’t had a raise in two years’ or ‘I do three people’s jobs’ – instead focus on your value and the achievements you’ve gained in those two years. Remember pay rises are for those who surpass normal duties and deliver excellence, two years in a role doesn’t automatically mean that you’re eligible for a pay rise.

Don’t bring your personal reasons into it

We all have personal reasons, but you don’t have to share them with your employer. Moving to a new house, increases in rent, or starting a family are great reasons for wanting a raise, but they aren’t reasons why your employer should award you a higher salary. Focus on your achievements – they are your bargaining chips, keep your personal reasons out of it.

Don’t give an ultimatum

Negotiations take time. It’s unlikely, even if you’re successful, that you’ll receive an immediate pay rise. If that is the case, don’t threaten to quit your job. A good job is better than having no job! If you have another offer on the table, be careful how you express this. It could sour any negotiations. Show that you’re committed to the goals and objectives of the business, and that you want to strive forward with the company. If your request for a pay rise is unsuccessful, find out what you’d have to do to get to the next pay bracket. If a pay rise just isn’t an option, remember that you could discuss other benefits in lieu of a pay rise, such as a bonus, stock options, training or more flexible working hours.


In summary, achieving a pay rise is possible, if you are prepared, are hitting your objectives and you are able to communicate these in a timely and effective way. We often see employees and contractors who frequently change employers being paid much more than employees who have remained loyal to a company. We would suggest negotiating an annual pay review, if there isn’t a company policy already in place… before you accept a job!

You do not have to quit your job to get a pay rise. However, your company’s leadership may need to be reminded in other ways exactly what talents you bring to the team, in order to proactively offer pay reviews. Go for it!!!

Turner Lovell specialise in recruiting project management, engineering, construction and commercial experts for electricity, oil, gas, renewable energy and infrastructure projects. If you would like to discuss your career prospects or are looking to recruit freelance or permanent personnel to join your team, please contact us on the details below.

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