What do you do when your annual pay raise is not what you were hoping for? Singaporean experts tell SUNITA SHAHDADPURI how you can negotiate for something better.

Negotiating for a pay raise can be difficult, and many people feel uncomfortable doing it. They fail to plan and control the situation, and end up handling it poorly. But there are constructive ways to approach it. You should first determine your market worth; employment ads and trade magazines are good sources. You can also talk to headhunters.

How to negotiate for a pay raise

Six expert tips on how to negotiate for a pay raise. Image: Getty Images

But be prepared – it’s not just a matter of asking for more money, but also requesting the chance for more responsibility and an expansion of your job scope. Karin Clarke, regional director at Randstad Singapore and Malaysia, a recruitment and HR service provider, shares some tips on how you can get a pay raise.

Who should you go to if you’re unhappy with your increment?
The first person you should approach is your boss. It’s important to have open discussions with your immediate manager. Discuss how you can improve your performance and contribution to the organisation in a way that will help you gain more responsibility and earn the additional remuneration. If you are still unhappy, the human resources department should be your next stop. Whenever possible, keep your supervisor informed, as HR will seek his opinion before making any changes.

What’s the most tactful way to broach the subject?
Rather than relying on emotion, concentrate on justifying why you deserve it. This means demonstrating your professional value by providing concrete examples of your achievements. Provide copies of positive client, peer and management e-mails, reports, results and achievements. It will help if you can prove that your role has expanded with more duties and responsibilities, or that you have a greater rate of efficiency or increased revenue generation or performance.

Should you ever compare your salary increment with those of your colleagues?
No. Your salary should be private. You are better off doing your own research to find out how much you, your position and level of experience are worth in the market. Search for appropriate salary surveys that show the wage range for your position and years of experience. Speak to others in the same field as well.

Is it still possible to negotiate a pay raise after the company’s annual salary review has already been decided?
Timing is important. If your organisation is undergoing cost-cutting, it might not be the best time. However, this shouldn’t stop you if you feel strongly enough about the issue. So don’t be afraid to take a moment to reiterate the key points highlighting your achievements.

What should you never do in a negotiation?

Never issue your manager a nonnegotiable demand. In 99 per cent of cases, threatening to quit is guaranteed to backfire. A two-way conversation is always more valuable than an aggressive ultimatum.

What if – despite your best efforts – your company is not in the position to give you a raise at that time?
Don’t let your disappointment get in the way of continuing to do a good job. Persist with keeping a record of your successes and achievements. A three-month interval is a good time to approach your manager to reassess your role and remuneration. But if it’s still not what you expect, you could look externally at other roles.

She Did It!
“I successfully negotiated a raise a few years ago and it’s because of some great advice I got from a friend in a managerial position. She told me to always document my progress on the job – successful projects, added responsibilities and so on. So, after two years, when I felt I had worked up enough muscle at the company and was indeed an asset to them, I made an appointment with my boss, and sat down and talked to him about it. Having the facts, figures and dates to back up what I said gave my case more impact. It wasn’t a huge increase in salary, but it was better than nothing!” – Stacey*, 35, senior marketing executive

*Name has been changed

This article was originally published in Simply Her Jan 2012.