askST Jobs: I am not happy with my salary. How do I ask my boss for a pay rise?

During uncertain times, it is not uncommon to request for a pay rise, say observers. PHOTO: PEXELS

In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: I am not happy with my salary. How do I ask my boss for a pay rise?

A: Prices of goods and services have been going up as a result of global shocks.

Salaries, though, may not necessarily keep up.

During uncertain times, it is not uncommon to request for a pay rise, say observers. Yet the thought of discussing money matters can be uncomfortable.

Before you stomp up to your supervisor, ask yourself a few questions. Have you contributed significantly? What is the salary benchmark for your role in the current job market? Has it been a long time since the last pay review? Is your company doing well? Have you successfully wrapped up projects recently? Is it a good time now?

Essentially, reflect on whether you deserve a pay rise.

Adecco Singapore country manager Betul Genc says this may include the following: consistently over-exceeding your targets or having in-demand skill sets. Factors also include taking pay cuts or salary freezes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Next, research and seek opinions from others in similar fields to gauge whether your package is within acceptable market range, advises Ms Genc. "Depending on your organisation's appraisal requirements, self-assess your key performance indicators, achievements, competency level, corporate values and development."

In other words, do your homework to support your case.

There are many salary guides and calculators available online to help you learn about the rough pay range for your position.

With this in mind, you can then get a better idea of how much to ask for.

Depending on your reasons, this would probably be between 3 per cent and 20 per cent. The higher the percentage you want, the better your reasons should be, say observers.

Mr David Blasco, general manager at recruitment firm Randstad Singapore, suggests asking a mentor from the same career and industry. "They are more likely to give you an accurate figure of what other companies are offering for someone with similar experience and skills as you."

Next, review your recent accomplishments. Consistently hitting targets, delivering projects ahead of schedule, winning top awards or taking on extra responsibilities are often grounds for an increment. Make a list of these, with specific examples.

After that, consider if it is the right time to ask your boss for a meeting.

Do not ask for a pay rise when your company has just laid staff off, there are cutbacks in spending or when your boss is busy settling a personal issue. You get the idea.

It is also useful to know if your company has pay increase practices. If so, is it a monthly, quarterly or yearly review?

Once a private meeting with your boss is confirmed, rehearse what you are going to say. It is best to avoid personal reasons.

Go into the specifics. State your desired pay, highlight the research you have done and share examples of how your work has helped the company.

Go in knowing that you deserve that increment and speak with confidence. Always prepare some answers to follow-up questions and be ready to negotiate.

One thing to note while negotiating for a higher salary is to remain cordial and reasonable throughout the whole process, says Mr Blasco. "You should be mentally prepared that your expectations may not be met, and be able to keep an open mind to negotiate and align on your next steps with your managers.

"Going into the conversation with the wrong attitude or mindset could have negative consequences to your employment and your manager's perception of you as an employee and person."

It is highly unlikely that your supervisor will say yes to that increment right away, since he or she would have to raise it to the higher-ups. But it would be good to check back.

Meanwhile, continue to contribute and build up your case.

But what if - even after going through all that trouble - your boss still says no?

Do not be disappointed. You can still negotiate for better benefits such as extended annual leave, or you could even ask for areas to improve on.

If you feel you deserve more, maybe you would be better off finding another job that rewards you fairly.

At the end of the day, it pays to know your worth.

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Check out the refreshed Singapore Salary Guide by The Straits Times, which allows you to explore the salary trends for your role and whether you are earning as much as your peers.

You can also use it to find out where your skills can take you. A data scientist, for instance, would likely have data design, visualisation and analytics skills and can take on other roles such as operations research analysts.

In addition, the guide shows you the soft skills that are in demand. These include creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and digital fluency.

Building these core skills can help to improve your employability, get you ready for changes and open up career opportunities.

Explore the Singapore salary guide here.

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