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How to negotiate a pay rise within commercial property

Written by: Stephanie Sparrow
Published on: 22 Sep 2021

Freelance - Pay (Salary) Rise

Are you stuck in a practice where you feel undervalued? Our five top tips for  your pay rise strategy will also help you re-evaluate your career.

1.Know your worth

Before you open negotiations, know your market value. You are more likely to win a pay rise if you have researched salaries for similar roles (check those on EG Property Jobs for example), and assessed the value of your contributions to the business. Rehearse the business case, and prepare evidence of your skills.

Richard Gelder, director at Hays Property & Surveying, suggests what you should ask yourself. “ ‘Have  I consistently met the objectives that were set?’”, he says. “‘Has my role or level of responsibility changed in any way, or do I have a new qualification?’ Every employer is different, so understand what it takes to get a pay rise in your organisation and be ready to tick those boxes.”

“Prepare a list of your recent achievements that shows you exceed your objectives and how this benefitted the organisation. This strengthens your case and will support the value you are providing to the business,” says Gelder.

At recruitment consultancy Deverell Smith, head of commercial Dan Maloney adds that employees (and job candidates) are likely to be valued if they “can show and prove that they have successfully generated fees or delivered on projects and tasks.”

Specialisms remain highly regarded and sector knowledge adds to your kudos. “Valuers who specialise in the private retail sector, to commercial investment agents who specialise in West End retail for example, come with the powerful knowledge of that market as well as the contacts”, he says.

2. Pick your moment

Never barge into a partner’s or director’s office to say you are unhappy. Make an appointment to discuss, and then, on the day, talk in positive terms about what you bring to your employer

Executive coach Dawn Bentley, who specialises in personal impact and branding at her Aurora consultancy, offers further details. “Plan your argument and get your timing right”, she says. “Don’t just catch someone unawares. Then on the day be calm, be open-minded to what they have to say, and listen as well as speak.”

At recruitment giant Hays, Gelder adds: “Requesting a meeting just after you have delivered an impressive piece of work, or when you know annual pay reviews are looming, could increase your chances.”

If your annual appraisal, or performance review, is imminent, then use those discussions to frame your request. If it is still months, then book a mutually convenient time with your manager.

3. Focus on career, not cash

Is money really the problem?  It may seem surprising, but most workplace surveys find that job satisfaction is more important than hard cash. This could be the time to address your priorities.

“Think carefully about your motivations before anything else”, says Gelder. “Do you want more money because you believe you deserve it, or because you want other aspects of the job to be more bearable?”

At the Royal Town Planning Institute head of professional development Andrew Close also advises against putting short-term gain ahead of investing in your career.

“It is always worth taking a long view of your career and producing a professional development plan (PDP) every year,” he says.

Close says that PDPs “encourage you to think beyond your current role and consider the direction you want your career to take”. The RTPI considers this career planning to be so important that it is a compulsory part of becoming a Chartered Planner and an annual requirement of RTPI members.

“You can also use a PDP as part of your annual reviews with your employer to highlight successes and to negotiate improved pay or progression”, he says.

Many commercial organisations are actively promoting career development. For example at property consultants Bilfinger GVA, head of learning and development Richard Malkin has developed “a common language” about performance and expectations. Its six-level framework, or career pathway, launched in January 2015, sets out expected behaviours, knowledge and skills. It is accessible to all levels, from directors to graduates, across Bilfinger GVA’s 12 offices nationwide.

 “At appraisal time it gives clarity of expectation”, he says.

4. Manage success

If your request is successful, politely ask when it will be implemented.

“Ask when the pay rise will take effect”, says Bentley. “In larger organisations you might not get an answer straightaway and there might be some kind of approval process. “

“And be prepared for disappointment later. Your manager’s boss might still say no.”

5.Bow out gracefully

Have tactics ready in case you fail to secure a better package.

“Sometimes ‘No’ might just mean ‘not now’ “, says Gelder. “To make sure your hopes of a pay rise are not simply dismissed, close the meeting by agreeing a date when you can review this again. If handled well, a conversation over your salary, and future at the organisation, will give you a clearer idea of where you are heading, and what you need to do to reach the next step in your career.

“Don’t rush to make a decision or dismiss a lower offer,” he adds. “Give it some thought and make sure you are happy with your final decision before committing to anything.”

If your request is refused, then accept the decision with good grace. “Always ensure that you are professional throughout your career”, says Maloney.

Have your say today with the 2015 salary survey from Estates Gazette in association with Cobalt Recruitment - CLICK HERE to read more and share your views.