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Top tips to effectively negotiate your pay rise

Times are tough. Rising inflation rates mean that for many, mortgage payments have increased by over 50% [1] in the last year, and non-discretionary expenditure such as food, fuel and energy has also increased dramatically in cost in the same period [2], resulting in the average household feeling financially squeezed in a way that they are not accustomed to.

Up to a third of UK employees report that they are considering taking on extra hours or a second job to relieve the financial strain [3], while others will be needing a pay rise to remain afloat. In this post, we will explain why those working in the life sciences industry are well placed to initiate salary negotiations and how they should go about it.

Biotech is under pressure

The UK government wants to promote the country as a global scientific superpower, yet ongoing skills gaps across every career stage threaten the achievement of this target. For years, the life sciences industry has been plagued by vacancies. Too few university leavers are pursuing a career in the industry, while experienced scientists and engineers often retire and are not replaced by an equally experienced incumbent.

At a time when the industry is under pressure to deliver, those dedicated and talented personnel who are delivering against or exceeding their KPIs in both established and early stage European biotech companies are in a strong bargaining position as they prepare to enter salary negotiations.

Top tips to secure a pay rise

1. Know your worth.

Compare your salary and benefits package against those listed for recently advertised vacancies in the same sector, at the same level and with similar responsibilities. If your salary falls significantly short of the industry norm, you are in a strong position to ask for a raise.

Even if your current salary is near or at the top of the pay band listed for similar roles, consider whether your levels of performance justify an increase in salary. If you have taken on additional responsibilities, deputised for a senior manager or delivered exceptional performance, use this evidence to substantiate your pay rise request.

2. Prepare for the conversation.

You should list the reasons why you feel that you deserve a raise and quantify the percentage increase that you wish to secure. Consider an opening position and a minimum acceptable limit, below which you are prepared to seek alternative employment or to trade a pay rise for greater levels of flexibility, additional paid time off or other non-financial benefits.

Once you are satisfied that your evidence is sufficient to substantiate your request, book a meeting with your manager. Choose your time with care – shoehorning your pay rise request meeting into a busy day of back-to-back meetings or after a poor financial status report is unwise. Instead, plan it for a few weeks ahead of a scheduled annual pay determination, after you receive a glowing performance report or for a day in which you know that your boss will be at their most receptive.

3. Be realistic.

Your manager is unlikely to be able to approve your request at the meeting. Don’t be disheartened if they question your evidence or ask for greater levels of substantiation. This is necessary for them to present your request to their seniors, and they will wish to have a strong evidence set to support their recommendation of a pay rise.

Ask for a date by which you will receive a determination. Your manager may need to incorporate your request into an upcoming funding cycle, so it may be a matter of months before you receive an answer. Knowing when you will receive an answer can help manage your expectations and maintain a positive outlook in the workplace.

4. Be confident.

Just as you would present evidence to a venture capital investor to substantiate a request for funding, take a similar approach to your salary negotiation. At all times, remain calm and professional, answer all questions asked with facts and present your justification for a raise in a reasoned manner.

Avoid the use of emotive language, and accept that some businesses, particularly startup and scaleup organisations with limited financial means, may be unable to satisfy your request, even if your performance is flawless and you are truly worthy of higher pay. In this instance, the business may suggest a change to your benefits package, offer funded training to increase your skill set or allow you greater opportunities for innovation, which could be as beneficial for your long term career aspirations as a pay rise would be.

5. Don’t make empty threats.

If you truly cannot afford to live on your current salary and you know that other organisations offer higher salaries for the role that you perform, you should consider whether you would be willing to walk should your salary negotiation prove unsuccessful.

If you are truly willing to make a move, avoid making empty threats. Telling your boss that you will leave unless you get a pay rise and then staying put regardless lets them know that you are passive and open to taking the easy path, which does not bode well for your long-term career.

If you decide to move on, apply for other positions, and if successful at a higher starting salary, tender your resignation. Remain professional and explain that the move is necessary for financial reasons rather than because of any dissatisfaction at work. Life sciences is a small and close community and it is important to maintain a strong professional network.

For help and support negotiating a pay rise or seeking alternative, higher paid employment, please contact ScaleX Consulting today. We can help you to secure a position in which you are paid a salary that is reflective of your worth, that offers long-term opportunities for growth, and in which your skills will be valued.

Resources:

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/articles/monthlymortgagerepaymentsup61foraveragesemidetachedhomeintheuk/2023-03-08#:~:text=The%20monthly%20cost%20of%20a,detached%20house%20in%20the%20UK
[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/priceseconomicanalysisquarterly/march2022
[3] https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1804475/third-workers-looked-second-job-inflation-rises-research-finds

LIFE SCIENCE RECRUITMENT:

If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading What Should the Candidate-Recruiter Relationship Look Like?

ScaleX Consulting offer trusted biotech business consulting and life science recruitment services, to help you take the next step in your journey.