1. Talk about what you can bring to the table – Rhonda Wong, CEO and co-founder of Ohmyhome
“When I was a trader in Chicago, I felt that my job scope (which was more research based) was not my forte. So I told my boss, ‘Look, here’s what I can do instead. It will make better use of our time and it will bring in more money, and I should be paid more’. Within six months, I had replaced traders with 10 years of experience. Don’t go in directly asking for higher pay. Rather, talk about what you can bring to the table. Managers can be too busy to know what you’re good at, so you should tell them, and ask if you’d be allowed to try, and in return, if they would consider a raise for you.”
2. Rehearse the negotiation process first – Anna Haotanto, CEO and founder of The New Savvy
“I help my friends by role playing as their bosses. I come up with objections to a raise, and we cover different bases; through this, they realise what should and shouldn’t be said.
Another tip: Find someone else within the industry [who has seniority] and ask them what they think about your prospects. Ask if they’d promote you, or if not, why. You should also remember that your supervisor might not be the person who grants your request. So ask politely what he or she can do for you. It worked for me when I approached my boss for a raise.
I explained that although I had not been in the role as long as my peers had, what I had done was more important. He considered it, conferred with the bosses and came back to me with an offer.”
3. Have the company’s interest at heart – Charlene Leung, co-founder of Slap Dance Studio. Charlene has had more than 15 years of experience in the advertising industry as a senior account director
“It’s important to tell your bosses exactly what you want. From the start, I made it known that I placed a lot of importance on monetary rewards. Some people asked for exciting accounts, but I preferred raises.
I also established my expectations with my boss, so we were both on the same page from the beginning. Both parties need to justify the pay rise, and it’s a big-picture perspective: You need to have the company’s interest at heart, and understand how you can contribute and work hard towards that.
If they see your value, they will want to keep you.”
4. List all the KPIs you have achieved – Sulian Claire, executive director, Retail & Lifestyle, Savills
“You should only ask for a raise or promotion if you’re able to list your achievements in clear, quantifiable terms. I track every project and transaction in an Excel spreadsheet that’s updated more than once a month. All my team members do the same – it helps when writing your own year end performance review for your boss and to indicate if you have exceeded your KPIs.”
5. Think like, and prove, you’re an elite performer – Jaelle Ang, CEO and founder of The Great Room
“When you’re in the early stages of your career, focus on hitting performance milestones rather than climbing a ladder of titles – you’ll be on a faster trajectory to achieving a better pay package.
Set milestones and triggers such as objectives and key results that can be clearly defined (either you hit them or you don’t), so you can bring them to the discussion on performance and rewards. If you’re a high achiever, it will be difficult for management to use excuses that you are too young or inexperienced. Even if you miss the mark on your intended objective, your bosses will know that you are thinking like a high performer, and are moving in the right direction.”
6. Do your homework – speak to industry peers – Natalia Goh, head of Credit Cards and Personal Loans, Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank
“You need to figure out what your walkaway point is. Think of the alternatives that you are willing to accept – for example, what your ideal figure is, and what your options are. And finally, know your bottom figure and what you will settle for.This is where your homework comes in.
I speak with friends in the industry to get a sense of the pay scale. If you’re unconsciously asking for more than what is the industry norm, you might come across as greedy and not as someone setting the right tone.”
7. Focus on a higher purpose – Sarah Liu, founder and managing director of The Dream Collective, a company that delivers leadership programmes to empower women
“I found out through a very honest conversation with my colleagues that my male peers were getting paid 15 to 20 per cent more for doing the same job. I approached my CEO and pointed out the disparity. He asked why I had agreed to a lower salary when I accepted the job; I responded that I didn’t realise what others were getting paid. I listed the projects I was managing and the clients who were happy with my work, and had all the performance appraisals and numbers to back me up.
“In the end, not only did he give me a raise, but he said he liked the way I negotiated, and told me to make sure I negotiated the same way with our clients.
That day, I learnt that we get paid based on what we negotiate for. If you’re looking to find out what your colleagues are getting paid, you need to build relationships with them. There needs to be a level of transparency – if you ask, you need to give information as well. It also helps to focus on a higher purpose, for example, finding out if the women staff are underpaid. Instead of focusing on ‘you versus me’, focus on why you want that information.”