Stake your claim

COMPLAINING about work and about how you re not paid enough is a national pastime – but have you ever considered playing serious hardball with your boss and bagging yourself a rise? It could be just the thing to make you feel like you re in a new job, wit

COMPLAINING about work and about how you're not paid enough is a national pastime - but have you ever considered playing serious hardball with your boss and bagging yourself a rise?

It could be just the thing to make you feel like you're in a new job, without all the hassle of having to scour jobs pages and websites for work elsewhere, not to mention attend all those tedious interviews.

And maybe you could even encourage your line manager to throw a few additional responsibilities into the deal, for the 'full effect'.

If you're like most of us, you've probably thought about it but already chickened out of staking your claim.

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It's true that salary negotiations can be tricky, especially if your boss isn't particularly approachable. But no matter how faint-hearted you are, your morale will be seriously damaged if you're working hard in a job and feel you're being underpaid for it.

Start off by establishing your reasons for wanting a pay rise.

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Is there something deeper at play, like job dissatisfaction or not feeling valued? If so, securing a pay rise probably isn't the answer, since once the novelty of earning more money has worn off, you'll realise your true cause for complaint is still there.

Secondly, what's your market value and your worth to the company? If you are already earning the industry standard, it's unlikely you'll be given more money for doing the same job. And although it may sound harsh, if your skills are dispensable and your boss could easily recruit someone else for the same money or less, is it really worth drawing attention to this fact?

Next, you need to be clued up about the company you work for and its capacity to boost your bank account with a bumper pay rise. If the budget is already stretched there may be very little point in asking for a pay rise, since few companies have bottomless pots of gold lying about, just waiting for employees to dip in.

However, if you're a star member of staff and can prove your worth it, chances are your employer can find the extra funds somewhere, as they will be keen to keep you on.

Once you've thought all this through, it's time to come up with a game plan. Preparation is everything, from what you will say and how you'll say it, to how you will react to whatever comes back at you.

It's best to meet your boss face-to-face so that two-way communication can take place, so request a meeting saying you would like to discuss a personal matter or seek advice regarding your role and development. Launching straight into a demand for a pay rise isn't the best approach, as your boss may resent being caught unawares.

Arrange a time, date and meeting room that suits you both, then draw up a list of your current responsibilities, achievements and workload, and all the positive things you've brought to the role.

You should have practised putting your points across beforehand - by talking to the mirror if necessary - and ensure you make it clear that you are asking for a pay rise because you deserve it as you are a dedicated, valuable employee, who strives for the very best and gets excellent results, but doesn't feel their current salary reflects this.

Once you've accepted a wage, job title and role description, it is very hard to persuade your employer to give you more money for simply doing things well, so try negotiating on the premise that you'll gladly embrace greater responsibility in exchange for a pay rise. This way the company is getting something in return. Also, think beforehand about whether or not you would accept other incentives instead, such as more holiday or a company car.

Being offered a job elsewhere is undoubtedly a good bargaining tool and will make your position a lot stronger, but it's also a risky tactic. If your company isn't swayed by your arguments, you must be prepared to leave them - or stay on but deal with the consequences of playing hardball.

Whatever you do, make sure you handle things assertively yet professionally, always seeing things from your boss's point of view as well as your own, and never becoming emotional or losing your rag if they won't budge.

With the right attitude and preparation, things really could go your way.

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