How To Ask For A Raise

Want to know the most common reason Recruiters ask for a raise?

Because they’re buying a house.

And when I say “buying a house”, I mean living off Super Noodles and cereal for the last year or two in order to save a deposit. But getting a mortgage on a Trainee’s salary is like getting a square meal and a king-size bed at Fyre Festival: it’s not gonna happen.

It doesn’t have to be bricks and mortar you’re in the market for. Big purchases need a big backing. Whatever your circumstances, successfully asking for a raise starts with answering one question:

How much are you worth?

A crude benchmark, maybe, but let’s take what constitutes a good first year in recruitment as an example: billing £100k.

I’ll assume you’re doing that on a £20-25k base. So in ROI terms, £100k works out to a return of either 4 or 5 times the company’s investment. In this case, your salary.

To put it another way, if you’re “good”, your base salary should equal either a quarter or a fifth of the revenue you bring in. 

I’d say this would be the minimum you’d need to ask for a raise with confidence. Obviously, if you’re billing 8, 10, 15 times your base, it’s probably an easier question to ask.

Disclaimer: I’m aware there’s much more to it than just this but feel free to go with this example for the sake of simplicity.

For instance, let’s say you billed less but took over running the company’s Instagram account, onboarded and mentored all the new starters, built a desk from scratch, spruced up the company website and redesigned a tonne of marketing copy.

You might be worth twice as much elsewhere.

But it’s not about that. It’s about how much you’re worth to the company you’re in.

And don’t confuse how much you’re on now with how much you’re worth.

These are two very different things. In fact, you might have a figure in mind as to how much you should be on already. Once you know what that is, there’s three steps to follow:

1. Ask what you need to do to get a raise

2. Go and do it

3. Come back once you’ve done it

I’ll explain.

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Ask What You Need To Do

People put off having this conversation with their Manager. Part of it’s not wanting to upset the apple cart or come across as entitled.

I get that. But this is your friendly reminder that you were hired precisely because you’re money motivated. So finding out what you need to do to earn more’s no bad thing.

It’s a conversation. Not a confrontation.

And transparency’s vital: if you’ve got a goal in mind – buying a house, starting a family, shelling out for a scam music festival – your employer should want to support you in that.

So tell them what the raise is for. Illustrate what it could help you achieve.

Your goal from this chat’s to understand what the next pay rise is. Then agree with your Manager on what to do to get it.

Go And Do It

Exactly what you need to do will depend on what you and your Manager have agreed.

Hitting big numbers is obviously important in recruitment, but it’s not the be all and end all. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, top billers don’t automatically qualify for a raise purely for crushing it month in, month out.

You might need to deliver in a couple of key areas.

Maybe you need to optimise your roster of clients.

Or streamline the menial parts of your role.

Or simply do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

In all likelihood, it’s going to be a case of smashing the phones for the foreseeable future. And something that will help immensely with that’s engineering your day to make sure you’re operating at your absolute best.

Read Find Your Own Power Hour.

Then get back on the phone. That base salary ain’t gonna raise itself.

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Come Back Once You’ve Done It

Meet with your Manager and report back on what you’ve achieved. If you’ve hit all the objectives you agreed, this next step should be straightforward.

Although sometimes it isn’t all champagne and congratulations. 

Maybe the initial chat didn’t go quite as planned. Or the goal posts have moved since then. Or the company’s not in the greatest shape financially.

A raise failing to materialise sucks, whatever the reason. Particularly if you’ve got a personal stake in it coming off. But if you’ve held up your end of the bargain and it’s not on the cards, it could be a sign you need to ply your trade elsewhere.

And with that in mind, there’s another instance where raises get brought up…

Counter Offers

We all know about counter offers“80% of people leave within 6 months of accepting one”. We tell our candidates something similar at the faintest whiff of one.

But when it happens to you it’s a different story. And if you’ve decided that your request for a higher salary, if not met, represents a good enough reason to leave the business and THEN comes the counter: what’s your next move?

If you were going to entertain a counter offer, ask yourself why it wasn’t offered in the first place?

9 times out of 10, it’s a reactionary move. And to be honest, a bit desperate.

So the question remains: how much are you worth?

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It’s not always about securing a higher base. The decision to commit to a company’s as much about what you’ll gain other than money.

Take working from home. Even if it’s for one day a week. How much would you save on fuel or transport? What would happen to your quality of life? Or your level of productivity?

Perks, tech, benefits packages. These are things that have a clear monetary value and are easy to factor into your income. 

Things like a company’s reputation in their sector, or the strength of their internal network, or the capability of management. These are harder to quantify. And sometimes it’s both easy and impossible to put a price on a perk.

At the right time in someone’s life, a fantastic maternity package is utterly priceless, for example. 

So quantify what you can and don’t confuse the things you can’t. You should end up with a number. Hold that up against your current base salary and you’ll soon see whether moving or staying’s worth it.

Regardless, it never hurts to keep an eye on what else is out there. You’d say the same thing to your candidates so it’s only fair the same applies to you as well.

Besides, you know how switching companies is a great catalyst for increasing your salary.

And if it comes down to taking home a bigger wedge at the end of the day, check out Five Of The Best Commission Structures In Recruitment to see if you could be earning more elsewhere, on top of your base.