What to Do When Your Boss Won’t Give You a Pay Rise

When was the last time your boss came over to your desk with a friendly smile and said: “Let’s talk about a pay rise“? For most employees, this is a rare occurrence – indeed it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. As a rule, it’s you who has to muster the courage to approach your boss and bring up this somewhat awkward subject. And that’s not the end of it. After all, they don’t call it ‘salary negotiations’ for nothing. A manager will seldom reward your courage and simply agree to your request. Xing-PayRise Instead, he or she will think up a host of good reasons why it’s a not a good time for a pay rise right now.  So there you sit, with two options ahead of you: One: you hide your dissatisfaction as best you can and resign yourself to the idea that there’ll be no extra money coming into your account any time soon. Or two: you try to convince him. Only the second option has any prospect of success. If you’re asking for more money, however, you should choose your words carefully.

Listed here are the typical arguments against a pay rise, and some tips on how to respond to them:

Your boss may fall into one of the following categories…

The Postponer: “It’s a bad time at the moment; give it a few months and we’ll talk about it again.” This one’s a classic, which in some places gets recycled over and over – and the months turn into a year or more. It’s best not to go along with this blatant attempt to brush aside an unwelcome subject.

Your answer: “It’s urgent. I’ve done a good job over the last year, and the figures prove that a pay rise is justified. For that reason I would very much like to negotiate my salary in the foreseeable future. If now isn’t a good time for you, let’s schedule a meeting within the next four weeks.”

1.2.The Team Player: “If I increase your salary, you’ll be earning much more than your colleagues.” Many a boss will come out as a team player during a salary meeting. But you really shouldn’t feel bad about your colleagues if you’re asking for a pay rise.

Your answer: “I understand that you don’t want to ruffle any feathers around here. But my performance has nothing to do with my colleagues’ earnings. Over the last few months, I’ve been given new duties and greater responsibility, and I believe that my success justifies an increase.”

1.3.The Haggler: “You’re asking too much. We can’t pay that.” Using this argument, your manager is not quite shutting the salary door completely – he is leaving you a wide open gap. In short, he’s ready to hear a counter offer. Time for you to get your foot in the door and push a little further.

Your answer: “I think my request is appropriate considering my success and achievements. However, I’m willing to meet you halfway. What sum did you have in mind?” If your boss’s suggestion is too low, make a counter offer. You might not get the salary you were originally after, but you’re also not walking away empty-handed.

1.4.The Comparer: “Other companies don’t pay this kind of salary.” Comparing different companies is much like trying to compare apples to oranges, but that’s how your boss has opened the subject. At this point it pays to have done some research in your field. There are many public salary comparisons.

Your answer: “According to current salary comparisons, someone in my position, with my professional experience, earns on average XX euros. Plus, I’m also taking on the following tasks: A, B, C.; that’s why I believe my request is commensurate with my performance.”

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You’ve probably already noticed that a salary negotiation won’t go as you’d hope without the necessary preparation. Before sitting at the table with your boss, you should put together some good arguments and, if possible, back up your performance with figures. However, if nothing comes of it despite your best efforts, it may not be due to your negotiating skills at all – it may simply be due to your employer. If that’s the case, it might be time to move on. Does the thought of rewriting your CV or drafting a new covering letter fill you with reluctance? No problem: This guide will take you step by step through the application process; with the aid of our editor you can create a professional CV or covering letter with just a few clicks, ready to be sent off instantly.

Guest Article by Xing-logo XING is the social network for business contacts. It is a cross-platform system with 9.7 million users in the core German-speaking market. 9.2 million of these are members of the XING platform. Professionals hailing from all sorts of fields use XING to look for and find jobs, employees, assignments, partners, expert advice or business ideas, and to learn about the latest topics in their field. 

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