Asking is essential. “I'm in a job now where we're given fair pay rises each year, if the business can afford it," a 26-year-old working in digital media says. "Our contracts state that pay rises are discussed at annual reviews, so at my first one I was all geared up to ask for a raise. Then I got given one that was more than I was going to ask for! Because of that clarity and fairness around rises, I don't feel the need to ask any more, though if it wasn't forthcoming in a review, I would want to know why.
“In my last job, though, I always felt overworked and underpaid – so I tried to ask for raises as often as I could. I think I asked for four in the two years I worked there, the first one two months in when they changed my job title from the one I'd applied for. Each time I asked, I remembered a conversation with a friend from school to psych myself up – we'd talked a few years before about how women don't ask for pay rises as often as men, and that's how they get left behind on salary. So I would think of this friend, and tell myself to be brave for all the women out there who weren't getting raises each time I wanted to ask! And it worked – by the time I left I'd increased my salary by 50% from when I started.
“Top tip: Think about things you've done that have added value, and how much more than your job description you're offering. That's why you deserve more money! My least successful attempt to ask for a raise was done with an argument along the lines of 'I do loads, and also I'm trying to buy a house.' From that I learnt: Your employer doesn't give out money based on your personal circumstances, so don't even bother.”