This is what a negotiation expert wants you to know about asking for a pay rise

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Women in the UK are half as confident as men about asking for a pay rise from their employers. A shocking fact, but at Girls in Work we know that asking for a pay rise isn’t easy. It’s daunting and it can bring up feelings of self-doubt and greediness, but the truth is that if you don’t ask you won’t get, and your colleagues (especially the male ones) are out there asking, and getting the pay rises that you’re not.

Discussions about pay need to be considered as a negotiation between you and your boss, you both want something - to get the best deal. You are obviously looking to be paid more money, while your employers are looking to get the best value for money, therefore, you need to come to a decision together.

We can often feel that we have no, or very little say in how much we are paid, but actually we have more control than we think. We just need to learn how to negotiate to get what we want.

“Negotiation is the most important skill to get what you want, need or deserve. And you cannot rely on people to always have your best interests at heart… so it’s really important that you take ownership of your ability to negotiate and you do it cleverly and with agility.” - Natalie Reynolds

Negotiation expert Natalie Reynolds knows a thing or two about negotiating a salary increase. Her career is based on negotiating for companies and training others how to do it well. In an episode of career podcast ‘The Broad Experience’ Natalie discusses with host Ashley Milne-Tyte her advice on how to negotiate a salary increase.

How to ask for a pay rise - read more here.



You know that little voice in the back of your head that tells you you’re not good enough? The one that says you don’t deserve to be paid more money, that you’re not worth that much! Well, almost everyone has that voice, some people are just better at keeping it quiet than others.

You might think the best advice would be to ignore that voice completely - you’d be wrong. Natalie suggests that ignoring the little voice now means it’s almost guaranteed to pop up at the exact moment you don’t want it to - “If you ignore it in the run up to the negotiation that little voice will rear its head right when you least need it to. Right at crunch time when you need to ask for what you want.”

Instead of ignoring it, we should be listening to that little voice in the run-up to our negotiations, because that voice represents our fears, inhibitions, anxieties and the weaknesses in our argument. “You should start then accessing that voice in your head in advance of the negotiation because it’s actually a safety mechanism,” Natalie says. “If you access it before the negotiation you can start to mitigate against what it’s saying.”

So if the voice is telling you that you’re not good enough or that your boss is going to question why you deserve it, then you write down all the reasons why you are good at your job and all the things you’ve achieved that show you do deserve a pay rise. Prove to yourself that you are worth it, and then you can prove it to your employers.


Natalie wants to make the negotiation process as simple as possible, so she breaks it down into four steps - ‘the REAP approach’ because you reap what you sow in relation to salary negotiation.


Do your research! This point can not be emphasised enough. For any negotiating you should be preparing beforehand, and a salary discussion is no different. The more you prepare the better your chances are. It’s about knowing your market value - “know the marketplace and know your worth and know what other people in similar roles are paid.”

Also think about what your employer wants to achieve and then showcase how you can help them achieve that. Perhaps your knowledge of the industry or company, specific skills you have, your personality or work ethic. Know what you’re worth, what your employer wants and what your value could be elsewhere.

Create a plan. Use that little voice in your head and prepare for all eventualities that your manager might throw your way. Don’t allow yourself to be surprised once you’re in that meeting room, make sure you’re prepared.


It’s time to set some boundaries. What do you want from this negotiation? What is the lowest salary you’ll be willing to accept, and what is the ideal amount? Do other things like holiday time, flexible working or training opportunities matter to you?

Once you know what you want, and what you don’t want, you’re ready to actually do the asking.


This is when your plan truly comes into play. You’ve thought about what they might say and you’ve prepared answers to their potential questions. You’re confident in your worth and value and you’ve established what you want and what you will or won’t accept.

A key point that Natalie notes is that we shouldn’t be shocked if our boss offers an amount much lower than what we’d be willing to accept. They’re testing the waters, and you shouldn’t take this offer to mean you’ve over-valued yourself. Be confident in your research and planning and don’t allow a low offer to make you question if you’re asking for too much. Stick to what you decided and push forward with that proposal.



Finally, negotiation is partly about perseverance. We shouldn’t just accept the first offer our manager places on the table, we need to remember that this is a negotiation and we’re allowed to put our proposal on the table too.

And if you get a no? “Try and keep that conversation going,” Natalie says. The negotiation doesn’t have to end when you leave the meeting room. Ask them to define how you can reach the salary goal you’re aiming for in a defined time period, or consider alternatives like holiday days, working arrangements etc. “Make it a shared problem,” Natalie says, “make it a conversation rather than a kind of a battle mentality."

We highly recommend listening to the full podcast episode (Episode 128: You're Worth It - the Power of Negotiation) from The Broad Experience featuring Natalie Reynolds, as well as checking out the other episodes. You can also read a free sample of Natalie’s book We Have a Deal.