The prospect of a pay rise may seem laughably out of reach at the moment, but do you know for sure?
Suffering in silence makes for a miserable nine-to-five if you feel grossly undervalued at work, so how can you approach the tricky subject with your boss in this tough economic climate?
What are you worth?
Start by researching the job that you do and the average salary attached to it. Research on websites such as payscale.com or benchmarkmypay.co.uk, and look at advertised vacancies for similar roles. This will help you to determine your own salary level and put you in a good position to negotiate.
Has your role changed?
When redundancies increase the workload for remaining staff, you may find that your role has changed with little acknowledgement. In this case, make a note of the duties you have taken on to demonstrate your increased input.
Check your progress from when you started with the company or from your last pay rise - you'll have a stronger case if you can show how you've developed during your employment. Pay rises are usually linked to contribution to a company, so if you've gone beyond your job description to take on more responsibilities or provided extra benefits to the business, outline how.
In many organisations it's only possible to get a significant pay rise if you step up the career ladder into a new role. Are you are ready for the next level? If you are, gather evidence to support this. If you're not ready yet, discuss with your manager what's needed to take the next step.
Another option is to discuss ways you can take on more responsibility or mentor a junior member of staff to justify your request for a pay rise.
What's your starting figure?
Before asking for a pay rise, think about how much money you want and how much you think the company can afford to give you. Don't be afraid to go in high but equally don't be stubborn: approach the meeting with an open mind and be prepared to negotiate on the amount you will accept.
State your case
Asking for a pay rise can be a nerve-racking experience, but don't approach it defensively. Try to arrange a morning meeting, so you don't spend all day worrying. Jot down the points you want to raise, such as your progress since joining and any facts and figures to reflect your performance.
If it helps, approach the meeting as a role review rather than a pay rise request. Take the opportunity to discuss your position – what you like and dislike about it, and how you would like to progress in the company, and the matter of pay will arise naturally. Overall, remain calm, friendly and professional.
Your negotiating tools
If the request doesn't get the reaction you hoped for, consider raising factors that may change their mind. If you have been headhunted or been offered a job by a rival firm, don't be afraid to use it as a negotiating tool. However, don't become aggressive or threaten to leave if you don't get more money unless you're genuinely prepared to move on.
If your company cannot to offer you more cash, discuss the possibility of other benefits. These could be things like more annual leave, flexible working, gym membership or private health care.
If your request is unsuccessful, try not to take it personally. Hopefully your boss will explain the reasons and if it is down to personal performance, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve your skills. If is the company's financial position, you may have to ride it out until business improves.
Either way, ensure you ask if you can have another pay review in a couple of months' time and use the time to try to improve on any feedback your boss has given.