Awkward Conversations: I Want a Pay Rise…

Introducing a series of 3 lighthearted blogs from writer Milly Edgerley, on how to have those necessary but awkward conversations. In the first, Milly tackles the dreaded salary issue. You’ve been offered the job of your dreams but it doesn’t pay enough, or you want or want (or need) a pay rise. So, what do you do?
I’ll let you into a secret. When I graduated university, I was absolutely scared s***less. I’d spent most of my second and third year waxing lyrical about how I ‘just couldn’t wait to get out in the real world’.
I imagined I would emerge on my last day of uni a fully-fledged adult, probably wearing a pair of respectable beige court shoes, with a blow dry, clutching a job offer in my perfectly manicured hands!
Sadly, the reality was I woke up on the last day of university to the realisation that I was still drunk, I’d lost one of my shoes and my housemate had been sick on the other, I’d not packed any of my stuff and my mum was coming to get me in approximately 30 minutes. Brilliant.
Oh yeah and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. 🙄
I’m pleased to report that life post-graduation has been pretty glorious, and most of my fears were totally ungrounded. Yours will be too. Trust me.
However, what no one prepared me for was the fact that being an ‘adult’ is fraught with awkward situations and conversations. Whether it’s trying to move your career forward, or trapping that guy who keeps calling you ‘buddy’ into being your boyfriend (cough), here are some handy tips on how to negotiate the minefield that is adult life.
Disclaimer: Lest I come off as preachy, I’d like to point out the only reason I’m able to advise on these situations is because I’ve ballsed them all up myself. Enjoy learning from my foolishness.


I Want a Pay Rise!

There’s no getting around it, talking about money is just plain awkward. Especially if it’s your first job out of uni. If you’re anything like me, the inclination is still to answer questions about salary expectations with ‘who me? NOTHING! I’ll pay YOU… honestly. Two pounds would probably suffice!’
It’s something that gets easier as time goes on, merely due to the fact that by your second or third job you’ll have a rough idea of how much you want to earn, based on what you’re currently earning.
Your first job is a whole different kettle of fish. When I was finally offered a job, at a place where I had interned for a fair few months, I was obviously delighted. I skipped home on a cloud to tell my then boyfriend, who (older and wiser than I) quickly pointed out that the salary offer I was clutching in my paws was barely enough to cover the rent. I’d have to go back and…gulp…negotiate! 😱
So, you’ve been offered the job of your dreams/you’re in need of a pay rise: what do you do?
Orange winking piggy with hand -wb

Don’t say yes right away


No matter how delighted you are to be offered the job, take an evening to consider the offer. No employer in their right mind will rescind an offer if you ask to have some time to look it over, and most will expect that you will do just that. I usually find a simple ‘Thank you so much, I’m delighted to be offered the role. If you could send over the contract I’ll respond with a formal acceptance in the morning’ works a treat. Taking your time is your right and will mean that there are no surprises hidden in the small print that you haven’t spotted.


Know your worth


Do some research. Asking for money becomes infinitely easier and less awkward when you can base it in fact. There are plenty of great tools such as this one that calculate what you should be earning based on your level and industry, which can provide you with a great starting point. Marching into your boss’s office and demanding a pay rise just because you think you should have one is one thing. Calmly presenting research on what you feel you should be earning, shows you’ve taken this seriously and gives your boss a clear idea of your expectations.


Be prepared to listen


 It’s all very well and good asking for more money, and most (good) employers want to pay their staff what they’re worth. The cost of recruiting and training new staff much outweighs retaining their valuable team members (that’s you!). However, it might be that they just can’t pay you what you’re asking, and refusing to accept this may not reflect all that well on you. If they are unable to offer you what you want, ask if there is a possibility to put a pay review in the diary for a few months’ time. Equally it may be that your employer doesn’t feel you are at the level you feel you are. In that case, asking them to outline some clear objectives to achieve before your review, gives you something to work for.


So, there you have it. Just some simple tips from someone who sat through her first conversation about salary like a hot sweaty tomato mumbling things about ‘need to pay rent’ whilst wishing she were dead.


Read more from Milly:

Awkward Conversations: What.. Are.. We?
That dreaded but inevitable conversation in any relationship…
Awkward Conversations: I Just Can’t Afford It
Being broke and how to handle those tricky situations…

Milly Edgerley

Milly is a writer living in London.

‘I write in many places, but you can always find me writing about my tragic life at Broke London Blog’

Follow Milly on Twitter and Instagram