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Key tips on negotiating a pay rise — and what to do if it doesn't work out 


Asking for a pay rise can be daunting for many, and while exuding confidence may make the process smoother — it's not the only aspect to consider.

For Edwina Dunn, the founder of non-profit The Female Lead, when it comes to salary negotiations it's important to see and treat it like a trade between the company and the employee.

"We have to build our confidence, so when we go into the room and we ask, we're not feeling disadvantaged," Dunn told attendees at 2018's Stylist Live event in London last week.

The entrepreneur outlined key steps on negotiating, which helps "you stay authentic and create your own statement of your value."

Earn it first, ask second

When approaching a salary discussion with a superior, it's crucial to talk about what your value is to the business — so use facts and evidence to support your case.

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"You need to earn your keep. You need to work hard, because success is rarely overnight. Don't run away when things get hard, and let your work be your voice," said Dunn.

"Whatever you do: do it really, really well and to the best of your ability, because people love winners. They love people that they can rely on. So, the more you do, the better you do it, the more you'll get noticed — because everybody will want you on their team," she said.

If you do the bare minimum however, you could get noticed for the wrong reasons.

Know your worth

Ultimately, not only should you know your value at work, but in the overall market too.

"Politely and respectfully let your employer know that you know what you're worth, because you're not just worth something to them, you're worth something to other people," Dunn said at Stylist Live.

If you're being paid under the market rate, ask yourself whether that's OK. If it's not, remind your manager of the unique qualities that you possess, Dunn suggests. An easy way to do this is to write down a list of your strengths, present this to management and discuss what you're going to commit to over the next quarter.

When conveying this, also consider how you communicate your thoughts: not only in how and what you say, but also through body language.

Be a savvy negotiator

When demonstrating why you deserve a pay rise, Dunn highlights four key attributes a savvy negotiator holds:

1) Research: Inform yourself of what your boss and company cares about — such as targets and obstacles — and how you can offer assistance.

2) Establish: Determine what's the main criteria for a promotion.

3) Ask: Find out whether you hit this benchmark of criteria. If not, ask about what needs to be done to make you the ideal candidate for it.

4) Persevere: If you don't get what you hoped for, consider what needs to be done to achieve your goal next time.

This former FBI negotiator's strategy can make you look fearless in any negotiation
This former FBI negotiator's strategy can make you look fearless in any negotiation

Don't make it personal

Linking to Dunn's previous point — specifically "persevere" and "ask" — remember that "it's not personal, it's business."

"If you do hear 'no', don't give up," she said. A manager's motive to say "no" could be for several reasons, like a budget being slashed, or needing further proof of what the employee can offer.

"So, you depersonalize (the debate). You go back in and ask those questions. You'll be respected for that."

Try the 'Oprah Rule'

For Dunn's final point, she turns to Oprah Winfrey for inspiration. Throughout Winfrey's career, the media executive has fought hard for equality, both for herself and colleagues — so she's no stranger to negotiating.

Oprah Winfrey talks on Good Morning America.
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What Dunn and many others have taken from the mogul is to end a conversation positively. Former FBI negotiator Christopher Voss has praised "The Oprah Rule," having previously noted how important it is that "the last impression is the lasting impression." For Dunn, if a discussion doesn't conclude as planned, see it as "the beginning of a conversation, not the end."

"If you do all the right steps, and you don't get an agreed pay rise, then stay calm. End positively — it's a long game," Dunn said, stressing that it's key to not burn bridges or show aggression.

"Don't give up, don't stop, don't doubt yourself. Keep going and find strength in setbacks," she said.

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