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7 Fashion Journal readers on how they negotiated a pay rise

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Do your homework, know your worth and go big.”

If you’re relatively new to the corporate world, it can be difficult to navigate the nitty-gritty. How do you nail a job interview? What does ‘WIP’ even mean? And most importantly, are you being paid what you’re worth?

Like any money-related topic, salary expectations and pay rise negotiations are important but rarely spoken about openly. So when you feel your employer needs to pay you more, it’s often hard to know exactly how to go about the conversation.


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Money is a frustratingly taboo topic at the best of times. In an attempt to demystify the pay rise, we asked seven Fashion Journal readers to share how they negotiated one of their own.

28, she/her

I’m under a union-negotiated enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) and had the support of my union. Because of that, I asked to go up a classification level and the process was very clear and fair. I had to apply through a form and explain how my duties corresponded to the duties of the higher classification I applied for.

My co-worker (who does the same role as me) and I applied together. I think the collective strength of our applications was convincing. We’d also had a lot of turnovers lately, which I think worked in our favour. My work is keen to keep those who have stuck around. I was on $75,000 and went up to slightly below $90,000 and also got back pay. My advice is to join your union! It’s never been more important.

35, he/him

I booked a meeting to “discuss my role”. In the meeting, I asked for a pay rise of $25,000 and to shift to a 9-day fortnight. It didn’t go very well. They just brought up the fact that there were gaps in my knowledge (but wouldn’t tell me what they were or help me to address them), and that I should be putting in effort outside of paid hours to learn and upskill. It’s also been two months since I asked for this pay rise, and they still haven’t given me an answer.

No answer after two months means probably a no. There’s a lot of pressure to not discuss pay so that businesses can underpay staff; I think it’s core to businesses making increased profits. But there are some cool companies who pay properly, so it’s no surprise people are just resigning en mass.

24, she/her

In my first role, I put a meeting in with my boss and asked for a raise. This was after a year. I’d prepared documents with what my job requirements were. I explained that I was already working above my pay grade, I researched what the average pay is for the more senior role and asked to be matched to that.

I was given the lower end of the pay scale and accepted as I wanted the job title change. After a few months in that new role, I knew it was time to move to a new company as I was still undervalued. Moving into my new job, I was offered $50,000. I rejected that and asked for $58,000. I always ask for more than the original offer, as they’re going to offer the smallest amount they can!

I thought I’d done a great job negotiating and was super pleased that I’d asked for more… until I found out I was getting paid far less than other people in more junior roles than me! It’s important to do your research into what the standard is, how you compare to the standard in terms of skills and try to find any information on salaries within the company (this can often be found on websites like Glassdoor).

I changed jobs again and went from $58,000 a year to $85,000! I knew I was being underpaid in my role and so went to the interview asking for at least $75,000. To my surprise, they offered me far more. As I know to never accept the first offer, I negotiated my way to $85,000 by asking for slightly more. They met me in the middle and I’m pretty happy about it. I feel like I’m being paid appropriately for the job I am doing, which allows me to get closer to my goals. I hope to earn a pay rise next year.

30, she/her

I prepared a one-page business case and presented it to my manager. It included information like the market rate for my role, my achievements in my current position, and what I planned to bring to my promoted position. By framing it as a transaction (i.e. ‘this is what I’m currently giving you and this is what I intend to give you, therefore I’m asking for [insert amount here] in return’), it took a lot of the emotion out of it.

My manager was super impressed with my initiative and I scored a significant pay rise. I was initially on $40,000 and successfully got an increase to $60,000. Remember, businesses will spend at least $10,000 replacing you (probably more these days with the labour shortage!).

Do your homework, know your worth, and go big – they’ll always negotiate you down anyway. I’ve consistently asked for $20,000 to $40,000 pay rises. While I haven’t always hit that mark, nobody has ever laughed at me (which is always my biggest fear!).

27, she/her

I told my manager I’d like a salary review meeting and asked for it to be scheduled for the following week. I simply said I knew I was worth more [than I was getting paid], and the recruiters in my LinkedIn inbox seem to agree. The strategy worked! I was unspecific about how much I wanted but got a 10 per cent raise. It’s all about confidence, knowing your worth and working for supportive people.

29, she/her

I’d say my experience was pretty shocking and nerve-wracking, but I’m so happy I dug my heels in and came out the other side with what I asked for. It took a few practices a lot of research and guts. I read a New York Times article on how to ask for a pay rise, researched the medium wage for my job title in my area then set up a zoom with my boss.

I asked the questions ‘What value do you think I’m adding to the business?’ and ‘What is that value worth to you?’. I was asking for $20,000 to $30,000 more. I was getting underpaid and overworked. It took three rounds of getting interviewed by both bosses and in the end, we agreed to $20,000 more. I was literally told the words “You need a reality check” after asking for a very reasonable pay increase.

I researched what my skillset and experience would be awarded if I searched for another job and was so disheartened by my boss’ initial response. I dug my heels in. I was pissed off that I was getting so underpaid. Just as I was about to give up the fight, they came back happy to meet me in the middle.

I kept reminding myself that men would do this all the time and that women didn’t do it enough. I only asked for what I thought I deserved and I’m really happy I did. This experience allowed me to take a really big jump into my next career move. I don’t think I would’ve done it unless I’d worked hard for that first pay rise.

25, she/her

I directly voiced my concerns to my manager and asked to set up a meeting with the HR manager. I asked for $50,000 and I got $50,000 – never be afraid to ask.

For more on how to negotiate a pay rise, head here.

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