5 Steps to a Salary Increase - Even in COVID Times!

June 07, 2021

Salary expert Martina Ernst tells us how it is done

Climbing the career ladder and getting a promotion while the pandemic is still in full swing? So maybe your current job situation is really not what you had envisioned for yourself. But nothing can stop you from making the most of every situation! Why don’t you use this time to prepare for your next career step and get ready for a pay raise? Take the following 5 steps to manage exactly that.

pic of salary expert Martina Ernst
Salary expert Martina Ernst knows how to get the best out of any situation for your career.

Step 1

Take some time and think about what you appreciate about your current job, which tasks are easy for you, and what you are good at. Also make sure to ask your family, friends, and, most importantly, your colleagues in what professional areas you excel and where you surpass their expectations. What’s key here is to write down everything that comes to your mind and that others tell you. Then ask your supervisor what they expect from you in the next three to six months and what would mean that you have met or even exceeded these expectations. Also take that down in writing and have them confirm it.

Step 2

What is it that you really want, and how much are you willing to invest in your career? Everything comes at a price. So think long and hard if you are actually willing to put up with longer work hours or take on more responsibility and if you are prepared to change company or even move to a different city or country for a better-paying job.

Portrait Martina Ernst

Martina Ernst

  • Salary expert and Global Executive MBA alumna

You certainly wouldn’t want to get what you were asking for – only to find that you did not consider the ramifications.

Step 3

Know the facts and calculate your market value: what is your current gross annual salary (base salary plus bonus payments), and which perks does your employer offer? That might include contributions to a private pension scheme, restaurant vouchers, a public transport allowance, a company car, coaching, further training, or membership in a gym. Keep in mind that in order to be able to pay for all these things, you would need to earn much more in net terms.

So what is your market value in your current as well as in your desired job? What is the best time to discuss your pay and a potential promotion with your employer? At most companies, salary negotiations and development talks take place according to an internal schedule. Who do you have to talk to? In most cases, it’s your direct supervisor. In some cases, they might agree to also include an HR representative and a manager from the next higher level in such talks.

Pic of a salary negotiation
When is the salary discussed in the company? With whom? Questions that need to be addressed. Photo © CC0 Licence

Step 4

How can you deliver added value in your current job that goes beyond the job description or the regular target? Make sure to brainstorm and take some notes on this every night before you shut down your laptop. It’s hard data and facts you are looking for, not just a hunch or counting overtime hours. Keep in mind that your extra work means extra costs for your company first of all – it’s not an added value per se! What counts is if you generate greater revenues or cut costs to a larger degree than planned. Also a marked quality improvement, a significant simplification of a process, or an innovative idea for a new product make up added value. Your company will grant more pay or “more career” if you deliver something that is a true added value.

Step 5

Make an appointment to discuss your opportunities to develop in the organization. Schedule a whole hour because such talks take their time. If you only address your pay, you will not be doing yourself any favors. Instead, think about how your input can help the company develop – and how, in turn, you, your responsibilities, and your salary will grow with and through this professional added value.  And don’t mistake a negotiation for a dispute in which you should try to “defeat” your “opponent.”  What you are going for is a win-win. At the end of the day, both sides basically want the same thing: highly motivated staff eager to contribute to the company’s success.

What is also really important for your professional success is a large network. Find out what the real value of the WU Executive Club is here.

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