Newsflash: a six-figure salary isn’t going to make you happy. Well, it might. But a pay increase may not solve all your problems because, just like the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness.

Before you decide that money is the sole source of your work-related problems, ask yourself whether you would actually be happy in your current role with a pay increase.

Do you like the environment you’re in and the people you’re working with? Do you get a sense of accomplishment after a full day of work?

The office politics and day-to-day workload probably won’t change with your pay increase, and money won’t provide extra mental or creative stimulation. So if that’s what’s really irking you, it might be time to start searching for a new job entirely.

If, however, you come to the conclusion that you’re overworked and undervalued, you should think about how to negotiate a fair pay increase with your employer. It’s a daunting prospect but there are some ways you can take the stress out of the process.

1. Gather your information

Before you even establish a meeting, you need to prepare for the conversation. Gather some statistics or information about your performance and have these on hand to validate your proposal.

2. Write it down

Write out a list of talking points and questions. It’s easy to be sidetracked by other lines of conversation, especially if you and your boss have similar interests or are on good terms. Use your notes to remind you where you want to steer the conversation and ensure that you have notes or answers for every single question before you leave.

Outline any plans you have for the future and how you see yourself and the company progressing. Mention any roles that you would like to work towards, or areas that could be improved in your own department (and how) to show that you’re thinking about the business as a whole, not just your personal journey.

3. Suggest positive inclusions

Mention any job-specific training that you feel would be beneficial. Many companies are willing to pay for professional development courses or contribute to university fees if your enrolment in a course could have a direct positive impact on their company.

This is often the case with postgraduate marketing degrees, or any photo or video editing programs if you work in a digital environment. There’s always something new to learn and having a staff member who has been recently trained by industry professionals is a definite bonus.

4. Know your value

Spend some time researching similar jobs with other companies in your area and attempt to ascertain how much someone with your responsibilities and experiences would be paid. How does it measure up against your current salary?

5. Pitch it

Once you have a specific salary in mind, think about how much you would be willing to negotiate, and have a clear idea of what figures you would accept or reject.

Remember, if you start by pitching your optimum figure immediately, there’s nowhere to go but down in the negotiation process. If you suggest a higher salary than you’re actually aiming for, you’ll probably be able to get your desired figure as they try to negotiate a smaller pay increase. And if they say yes to the first (higher) figure, you’ve aced it!

Now just ensure that everything is outlined in your new contract before you sign it, and you’re ready to go. Remember to keep an eye on your budget! If you look at your increased salary as a reason to go on a spending spree, you’ll end up right back where you started.

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