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How should you ask for a pay rise?

Don't approach your boss at the busiest time of the week. Monday mornings (when everyone's warming up for the week) and Friday afternoons (when they're warming down) are out, too. Instead, talk to your manager when they're feeling relaxed - after lunch is a good bet - and ask to schedule a meeting. "Make sure they aren't rushing off and that nothing else is coming up - an important client visiting or a big new pitch - that might take priority," says Mills. If you think your boss would prefer advance warning, mention that you'd like to discuss salary. If not, it's fine to be vague and save the details for the meeting.

Get comfortable

If your boss is seated on a large and imposing chair, then they'll be more inclined to behave in an authoritarian way. If possible, take your meeting to a neutral spot in the office - such as a semi-public breakout area - and seat your boss somewhere soft and comfortable. A relaxed manager is far more likely to agree to your demands. "If you have a relationship in which you have frank discussions, going off-site to a nearby cafe is fine - especially if you work in an open-plan office. You need to have this discussion where you aren't disturbed," says Mills.

Appearance matters

In a perfect world, all bosses would evaluate employees based on their talent and commitment. In reality, many are overworked and imperfect judges, prone to making snap decisions about those around them. Make sure your day-to-day manner, demeanour and appearance works in your favour. "There's no point dressing up on this occasion and looking shabby the rest of the time," says Mills. "The image you portray is an important part of doing your job well and you should always look appropriate." As the saying goes, dress for the job you want, not the job you have already.

Don't just dress smartly on the day of your pay discussion - make it a habit

Set out your reasons

Use clear examples to demonstrate how you've gone beyond your basic job description. Highlight a few instances where you've taken initiative, improved business or helped support the wider team. Remember that this is a business meeting, and your goal is to convince your boss that you are worth a higher salary.

Be silent

After you've said your piece, give your employer a chance to respond. "Silence is fantastic," says Mills, "as is asking for their advice. Never say that you're underpaid, and avoid confrontation. Instead, say: 'I've been thinking about my responsibilities and how they might be reflected in my pay. What do you think?' That open question gives them a chance to answer."

Keep your boss on side

"It's in both of your interests that you keep your employer on board," says Mills. "Reaffirm your commitment to the job and show you're up for challenges. People often get very defensive or aggressive, and the boss responds to that tone of voice. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your boss will be."

Be passionless

A snivelling employee is as attractive as a weeping ex-boyfriend - and just as unlikely to achieve a positive result. Pleading about your struggle to buy a home is a major turn-off, so leave your financial woes out of the conversation. And no matter how your boss behaves, don't threaten to resign if you don't get your way. Even if you're overworked and bullied, the decision to switch companies should be made quietly and discreetly - not during a tantrum.

No employer will be moved by tales of empty pockets

Make your own pay rise

If the answer's no, explore other ways to boost your income, changing your working patterns if needs be. Our TV screens seem to be overwhelmed by solicitors pleading with us to claim for each and every mishap, there is obviously no such thing as an accident in this day and age. Somebody is to blame and they must be made to pay!. With this in mind, it would be a very brave (or maybe foolish) small business owner who made the decision that public liability insurance wasn't necessary. Click the link to get an answer to your questions that you might have on Is Public Liability Insurance Essential?.Ask if you could work from home one day a week - which would save 20 per cent of your travel costs. "With the best will in the world, employers may not be able to give you additional pay, but they could offer other things - such as flexibility," says Mills. "If you're asking for a pay rise because of your long hours, perhaps they could give you a more reasonable schedule instead."

Follow up with an email

Make sure that whatever you agree is put in writing. If your boss says they don't have the budget for a pay increase at the moment, then ask them when they expect that situation to change and make a note in an email. "Send them a memo saying: 'It was really interesting to hear your thoughts - you suggested that I should ask again about salary in six months time, and that's really helpful.' Then you've got a paper trail," says Mills. If you do get a pay rise later, ask your boss if they can backdate your increase; they may refuse, but there's always a chance they'll bump your pay higher to compensate.

Listen to the answer

If your boss decides not to increase your salary, be gracious and ask for feedback. What should you be doing differently, and how can you improve your performance in the coming months? Approach your meeting as a chance to learn and change your work prospects so that, even if you lose this battle, you end up winning the war.

And if that doesn't make you feel better, just remember - the Prime Minister thinks you're worth it.


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