How to justify a salary increase

Negotiating a salary increase needs careful research and preparation – as well as a good listening ear

The biggest mistake, when going in for your salary review, is to think that because skill shortages for finance professionals are so dire, your boss couldn’t possibly turn down your ruthless demands.

Instead, the better strategy is to think not just about everything you’ve done and achieved since your last review (although that’s all important stuff) but also about how you’ll contribute to the finance team in the coming months. All bosses have a good idea of what they have to accomplish themselves – far better to present yourself as someone who can play a key role than as a nagging employee who just thinks about the past.

Add value

Well in advance of the review, list all the ways in which you’ve performed well beyond the call of duty. Simply having arrived on time each morning and discharged your responsibilities competently is only enough to get you a nominal rise. If you want the big money, you need to prove that you’ve excelled.

How have you helped to save money, improve processes, or increase efficiencies? What projects did you manage or play a key role in? What compliments have you received from colleagues or senior management and why? How have you acted as an ambassador for your team when liaising with non-finance departments, clients, or suppliers? And, if appropriate, in what ways have you helped with developing more junior staff?

All this and you’ve been progressing through your ACCA studies – does the prospect of justifying that raise seem so terrifying now?

Think ahead

Whatever your previous achievements, what matters most is how you go forward from here.

Have a game plan of at least three ways in which you could take on more responsibility and make your boss’s life easier. These shouldn’t require massive resources. Stress that you wish to move your career forward within the company and that you’re keen to learn new skills. You want your boss to realise (or remember) that you’re ambitious – without giving the impression that you’ll walk out should your demands be refused.

Finally, have a Plan B in reserve. There may not be enough budget to give you what you want right now – but don’t leave it at that. Instead of having to wait until next year for a better rise, suggest that, if you achieve certain objectives within three or six months, you’ll earn a one-off bonus (or indeed, the rise you asked for).

Few people have the gumption to do this but those who do are often pleasantly surprised by the results. 

"Simply having arrived on time each morning and discharged your responsibilities competently is only enough to get you a nominal rise"