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Whilst the cost of living has risen, for the most part Aussie wages have not. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about asking for a pay rise. Here’s how to go about it.

If you’ve been forced to do more with your money then you’re not alone. Australian wages largely have remained stagnant for the last six years.

From 1998 through to the end of 2012, a period which included the mining boom and Australia side stepping the global financial crisis, wages were growing an average of around 3.5 per cent each year. However, that all abruptly stopped in June 2012 and did not start picking up again until 2017.

In the past financial year, private sector wages grew by just 1.92 per cent. As this was the same pace as consumer price inflation (CPI) over the same period, this basically means real wage growth went nowhere over the year for a majority of workers. In comparison, public sector wages outperformed, lifting by 2.35 per cent over the year.

Whilst many consumers have struggled, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. RBA Governor Philip Lowe says wage growth has now bottomed and the worst is behind us.

“[Wage growth remains low and this is] likely to continue for a while yet, although the stronger economy should see some lift in wages growth over time,” he says. “Consistent with this, the rate of wages growth appears to have troughed and there are increasing reports of skills shortages in some areas. The outlook for the labour market remains positive.”

Given this, Melbourne-based financial expert Medine Simmons, author of How to Get a Pay Rise, says now is as good a time as any to ask for a raise. “Whilst some companies are genuinely too cash-strapped to offer raises, there are still plenty which aren’t and it’s important to keep that in mind,” she says.


Tips on asking for a pay rise

Here Medine Simmons and other experts offer their best tips on how to go about asking for a pay rise.

  1. Research wages in your industry

    Go online to see what others in your industry are earning and study job ads with salary indications so you know how much to ask for advises Nicolette Maury of Intuit Australia. “Research how similar jobs pay so you can set realistic expectations for yourself and your employer,” she says. “Also take into consideration how well your company is performing. If you don’t want to overwhelm them, ask for a small per annum increase of say $3000 – $5,000 which equates to under $100 extra per week.

  2. Write down your reasons

    Write and rehearse your responses if your manager asks you to explain your reasons. Succinctly talk about things like your strengths, responsibilities, achievements over the year and any way you’ve added value, saved costs, provided good customer service or generated revenue. Don’t compare yourself to others, and mention any salary shortfall in relation to the industry average.

    Negotiation expert Dan Hughes also advises not to walk in and simply ambush your boss. “Prepare the ground by emailing them or mentioning you’d like a rise in a chat prior before you request a formal meeting. That will give them time to think about it and work with you toward a solution.”

  3. Get into the habit of asking for a raise

    “The number one reason I feel that many people – and women in particular – don’t get pay rises is because they simply don’t ask,” says Medine. “Plant an initial seed then get into the habit of raising the question with your superior.” As a rule of thumb review your wages at least once a year.

  4. How to phrase your request

    Although you may be shaking in your boots, Medine says a simple sentence is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling. “I suggest casually saying something like, ‘I’d like to be considered for a pay rise because I’ve been working here now for two years and I haven’t had one,’” she says. “Don’t say anything else, just let your manager respond.

    “If they then say, ‘No’, or ‘I’ll think about it’, then simply reply, ‘Okay thanks, can we review it at some point?’ Let them think about your request and don’t try to give them your spiel at that moment if they don’t seem receptive. If on the other hand they ask you explain more, then you could list the reasons why you think you should get one.”

  5. Use the correct tone

    It’s important to speak in non-threatening, simple terms. “Remember you are not trying to be confrontational,” says Medine. “If you go in too hard or aggressive, or start complaining, it may backfire on you. Often, it’s difficult for managers to get pay rises through and many will do their best to accommodate you.

    “Also keep it clean and don’t get caught up in the moment, blathering on. If you go on and on people can forget what you’re even saying! Keep your sentences concise and let your manager respond.”

  6. Make yourself an attractive raise candidate

    In all honesty, no one is probably going to give you a pay rise simply for showing up and fulfilling your job brief. You usually need to go a bit above and beyond. To make yourself more attractive in the lead up to asking for a raise, or in the event your first request is knocked back, offer to do extra tasks, take on more clients, do more courses or things outside of work hours. All these things are reasons to ask for a raise.

  7. Move on if it’s a dead end

    If your repeated requests for a pay rise are falling on deaf ears, it might be time to consider a new job. Try to go for a business which is doing well. Medine says to also apply the 80/20 rule. “If you can do 80 per cent of the tasks a new job is calling for and are unsure about 20 per cent of it, then it’s still worth applying. If you always just stick to what you know you’ll never advance.”

  8. Get over your fears that you’re “not good enough”

    Sometimes you can talk yourself out of a payrise by making up excuses in your head including: I don’t do a good enough job anyway so probably don’t deserve one, I’ll look like a pest for asking, I might annoy my manager and I don’t want to rock the boat. “These are all self-limiting beliefs,” says Medine. “It is in no way ‘cheeky’, ‘rude’, ‘annoying’ or ‘out of line’ to ask for a raise. Everyone who’s a manager knows that people asking for raises is to be expected. This is your life you are talking about. As long as you ask respectfully, no one will begrudge you for that.”

How to Get a Pay Rise by Medine Simmons is available on amazon.com and ebay.com

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