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The coach: ‘Should I ask for a pay rise?’

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Careers expert Matthew Turner advises an architect on how to persuade their employer to up their salary

Should I ask for a pay rise? I am struggling to make ends meet and I have considerable debt from my studies. I work on medium-sized projects and know I am considered a dependable pair of hands.

Matthew turner

In a way, this is hard for me to answer as your worth is something only you and your boss can agree on. Fundamentally, it comes down to relative salaries. Many people seem to think others earn a lot more than them and, with the caginess people have around salaries, it is often hard to know the truth – though we hear in the general media that there is a distinct gender difference. Your email mentions your current salary, and I would say you are already doing pretty well for someone of your experience. 

If you really want to undertake a pay rise negotiation, you should benchmark yourself with the information that is out there (from the AJ, RIBA etc). If you then think it is worth the discussion and the risks involved, then prepare to provide evidence you are underpaid, or that your skills and value are worth more than your experience would normally indicate.

In your situation you need to really show what extra you bring

When asking for a salary increase you are basically asking your boss to be explicit about how much they want you. In your situation, with already a decent salary, you need to really show what extra you bring. So whether you are the proven liaison between the London and a regional office, or you have successfully turned around a difficult aspect of a project, actual examples are your ammunition for negotiating. 

Be prepared for the ‘no’ answer. Many bosses may well yearn to pay more but the finances of their practice just don’t make that possible. If you were to get a ‘no’, would you be content to stay? Often the sheer headache of having someone leave and needing to recruit anew can hold considerable strength in the negotiation, but equally you should predict your reaction to the various eventualities.

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. To contact him with your questions, tweet @TheAJcoach or email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com

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