6 Ways to Outsmart Your Boss & Get the Salary You Want

5 min read

Salary negotiation tips & resources

Salary negotiations are often stressful & to be honest, farking awkward. Drawing from my own experience and those of my friends & colleagues, I’ve come up with some fail-safe strategies to help you prepare.
This approach won’t be for everyone, but it helped me get the salary I wanted & also got me wondering about why we are still woefully underpaid compared to our male colleagues.
Salary negotiations are often stressful & TBH, farking awkward. Drawing from my own experiences and those of my friends & colleagues, here's a cheat sheet on how (IMHO) to get the salary you want right now. irislillian.com
Source: WGEA Report 2016 Salary negotiation tips & resources

If you think you don’t deserve a pay rise or that you’re paid enough already (perhaps just as much as your contemporaries) think again: in the US women make only 77 cents to a man’s dollar for full-time year round work. In Australia, women’s average full-time total remuneration across all industries & occupations is 23.1% less than men’s. WTF?!

Here are a few salary negotiation tips & resources I use to get prepped. 
1. Back yourself
  • Deep down you know your commercial worth. You are amazing. You are making (and probably saving) your employer a shed load of cash (A SHED LOAD). Never underestimate this figure.
  • You get shit done. You know you do. Be it the multi-million-dollar merger or Sarah’s going away lunch, you’re the Go-To project manager in the office. Because of this endearing trait you tend to work all hours. But you love it, right? For now…
  • You add invaluable social capital to your workplace because you’re a team player and a pleasure to work with. Low moral and bad office culture inevitably affects the bottom line.
  • Study your CV. Pretend you’ve never see it before and read it as objectively as possible. It’s pretty impressive yeah! Faark yeah it is. You got into a kick-ass university, you probably topped your class, your training is impeccable – you are the shizzle. And, your boss knows this. You need to as well.
Salary negotiation tips & resources
Salary negotiation tips & resources Photo: The Chriselle Factor
2. How much are you worth?
  • Call recruiters, ask what jobs are available for your skill set and what they are paying.
  • Chat to colleagues (if you’re allowed) and friends about their pay or at least salary bands.
  • Ask Human Resources to plot out on a graph where your salary sits relative to your peers. They aren’t usually allowed to refuse these requests.

With this information in mind fix your target salary (best case scenario) and walk-away figure (the absolute minimum you will accept). Then add 10% to reflect the “man uplift”: this is the amount your male contemporaries will be asking for.

3. Prepare a business case (literally write it down)
  • This document will set out why (in light of the value you add over and above your job description) it would be absurd to refuse to give you a pay rise. Include every example of when you saved the company money, brought in a valuable client, mitigated a costly risk, negotiated a valuable clause, improved efficiencies and ways you will continue to add value.
  • Record the hours you work and calculate your hourly rate. It is probably relatively low compared to sourcing similar services outside your company. For example, giving you a pay rise is clearly a no-brainer if you cost the business $50 an hour but an external consultant charges $350 an hour.
  • Don’t let your boss take your word for it: email clients & colleagues asking for feedback. Attach their responses to your business case.
4. Get over it

Like me, you will need to get over your people-pleasing instincts, your feelings of guilt, associations with greed and concerns about being labeled “difficult”. These are born from unconscious gender bias and learned cultural assumptions shaped over many years through education, culture, and experience. They are irrelevant.

Ultimately, if you don’t ask you won’t get. So, JUST DO IT: find an hour free in Outlook and schedule a meeting.

5. Be professional – this is not a morning tea 
  • This is business, it’s not personal. Put your professional negotiating hat on, STAT.
  • Don’t use emotive phrases like ‘I’ve worked hard all year and I feel I deserve a raise’ – your business case will do all the work for you.
  • In the workplace there is only one person who will ever look out for you: that’s YOU. Your boss won’t. She has a vested interest in keeping costs to a minimum and her duty is to her employer, not you. This is her job after all. (I learnt this lesson the hard way)
  • Even if you are great mates with your boss, his job will always rank before your friendship.
  • NEVER highlight your flaws voluntarily but be prepared to explain how you will address a weakness if specifically raised. If you are asked to give an example of something you could improve, spin it e.g. I need to work on my perfectionist tendencies.
6. Beware of these sneaky management tactics 

Assume your boss knows every trick in the book and will use them. Be prepared to call her bluff. Here are some rippers I’ve faced:

“We can’t pay you market rate because we don’t have the budget.”

Usually this is plain old BS – there is ALWAYS more in the pot to retain a valuable asset like you. Counter with: “If the business can’t afford market rate, it shouldn’t be in the market.”

“The business won’t have additional headcount until after the next financial year”


“The annual budget for the business has already been approved”

Read: you need to keep doing the job of two people. If you’re working two jobs you should be paid two salaries or your workload should be cut in half. End of story. This is a workflow management issue, not your problem.

“It’s out of my hands, Human Resources won’t approve your pay rise unless you come to me with another job offer.”

Major BS ALERT! You need to seriously consider whether you want to work for a company that uses these tactics.

“It sounds like money is your key motivator?”

This shaming tactic is a low blow. Don’t let the resulting waves of guilt or awkward atmosphere pervade – smack it down with something like:

“yes, people work for money but if it was my key motivator I would have left already.”

One last tip for the road: Be the first to propose a salary – don’t let your boss get in first because the conversation will be anchored with the first figure on the table.

Salary negotiation tips & resources
Salary negotiation tips & resources
Et voila!

Now, you’re ready: get to it superstar!

If you’re still tempted to chuck the conversation into the Too Hard Basket, remember that one day our daughters, granddaughters & nieces will thank us for the part we played in achieving gender-parity in the workplace.

Still not working?

If the pay rise isn’t forthcoming, consider whether you are missing the mark somehow in your role. But, if it’s just that the company or your employer are wankers, it’s time to update the ol’ LinkedIn profile and move on!

Do you have any killer strategies you use when negotiating your salary? Do you find it difficult to ask your boss for a pay rise? Please share your tips, tricks and experiences in the comments below and head over to chat with the brains trust that is the Iris Lillian Squad, here!

Do you need some one-on-one help with your salary negotiation prep? Email us at hello@irislillian.com. We will take you through your resume, help you realise your commercial value & host a test interview so that you’re ready & roaring to go come salary negotiation time.

Salary negotiation tips & resources

  1. Brittany says

    Thanks for reposting my article Iris! I love this post – very true points here. “Get over it” is my favorite saying ever. Stop baby crying and get over it! Keep up the hustle girl. xx


    1. Elissa says

      No worries Britt! Have you experienced any shady management tactics when asking for a pay rise?

  2. Nooree says

    Great article, Liss! Some really practical tips. Go get em, girls!

    1. Elissa says

      Thanks Nooree! Yup, go get ’em!

  3. Katie says

    Great article, really helpful tips!

    1. Elissa says

      I’m so glad the article was helpful!! Are you going to ask for a pay rise on Monday??

  4. Magan says

    Love this! So helpful and brave. Thank you for putting it together!

    1. Elissa says

      Thanks, gorgeous Magan! I hope you can put the tips to good use. Let me know how you get on xx

  5. AJ says

    Great article IL – I know I’ve been fooled by those sneaky management tactics!! Thanks for some solutions 🙂

    1. Elissa says

      You too!! Did you come up against any tactics that I didn’t mention? If so, how did you respond to them?

  6. Erin says

    BRAVO! This is tremendous – I’m actually in this situation now, so love the timing (selfishly). Also, key point is to come in about 15% higher than your desired salary, so your manager will meet you in the middle (as opposed to coming in with the figure you want and him undercutting as ‘middle ground’)!

    1. Elissa says

      Wonderful! You will kill it, I’m certain. Let us know how you go. And I agree 100% with your 15% pitch – a great strategy.

  7. Camela says

    Great article! These are definitely things that I’ve learned over the past few years (the hard way!) The last section on combatting common excuses is fantastic!

    1. Elissa says

      Yes! I learnt them the hard way too! Would you add any tips? We would love to hear them. xx

  8. Farrah says

    Such a great post! thanks for all of the tips! Xx, Farrah and London

    1. Elissa says

      You’re very welcome Farrah! I’m glad you found the tips useful. xx

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