How to negotiate an engineering pay rise

Published: 05 Sep 2013

The idea of negotiating a pay rise fills most people with dread. Here are some easy tips for the perfect negotiation strategy.

Research is key

Work out how much you’re worth before the meeting. Can you justify why your experience as an engineer deserves the salary you’re requesting? Find out what other engineers are doing, their experience levels and how you compare in variety and scope of projects. If you’re able to network for first hand advice and information then make the most of it, otherwise job boards and salary surveys provide a realistic look at your situation.

Build a case for yourself based on your skills, significant moments in your career with the company and specific examples of work and projects where you played instrumental part. If you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and are using this as the main thrust of your negotiation, then be prepared to be back this up. Remember that certain qualifications, like becoming a Chartered Engineer, will be recognised by a larger salary.

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There’s a time and a place…

Let’s set the scene. Your manager is stressed to the point of pulling their hair out, the phone won’t stop ringing and there’s been a flood on site at your latest project. Is this really the time to ask the question? Common sense is essential when entering a situation like this. If you don’t have a yearly review or progress report coming up, then schedule in a meeting. This gives you time to prepare and you can take control of the situation.

Your manager is unlikely to be making the final decision in whether the pay rise gets approved, but they should still be your point of contact when requesting it. Try to ask what they need from you to carry the request forward and try to find out what, if anything, they can/will do for you.

The main event

Statistics and facts are going to be a useful tool in presenting your case. If you have personally raised productivity by 15% within six months, or were responsible for turning around an engineering project from the brink of collapse, then bring the figures to tell the story. Quantifiable data can’t be argued against, so don’t only rely on recanting your experiences. If you can get testimonials from co-workers then do so.

When the offer is made don’t immediately accept it. Your first response should be something along the lines of; “Thank you. I’ll need some time to think about it.” If this isn’t the first negotiation then be prepared to offer up a compromise. A benefits package can sometimes provide more value than an immediate salary boost, so make sure that you know what you need, what you want and what you can concede.

Weighing up your options

While you should be able to take as much time as you need to weigh up the offer, ideally give an answer by the end of the day or take the night to sleep on it. Taking time to think about it keeps you in control of the situation and you’ll come across in a more professional manner.


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