Four steps to negotiating your salary

Mathilda Volant

by , Content Manager

at PensionBee

28 Feb 2024 /  

Close up of two business people shaking hands.

Despite progress towards workplace equality, the gender pay gap remains a persistent reality in the UK - with women earning an average of 7.7% less than their male counterparts, according to the Office for National Statistics. While systemic changes are crucial to narrowing the gap, there are a few things women can do on an individual basis - from investing in their personal development to building their professional networks - to advance their careers.

Here are four steps to negotiating your pay.

1. Closing the “ask gap”

CEO and Co-Founder of The Know; Lynn Anderson Clark says: “I think it’s hard to say ‘have more confidence’. But something that helps me is preparation. So when I think about preparation, it’s about doing my research, benchmarking and things like that.”

One key strategy lies in dismantling the “ask gap”. Research reveals a key reason behind the pay gap: women are less likely than men to negotiate their salaries. A staggering 68% of women accept salaries without negotiation, a figure 16% higher than men. This translates to significant missed opportunities, compounding over time.

Before initiating a raise conversation, gather data on your performance and research market rates for similar positions. You can use tools for salary benchmarking to see how your job role and years of experience is typically compensated. This information strengthens your position and allows you to present a compelling case for a raise.

2. Timing the conversation

Social Entrepreneur and Broadcaster; Natalie Campbell MBE says: “Where is the business in the financial planning year? Because budgets are planned in these cycles. So if you go at the wrong time and you get the answer that ‘we can’t accommodate it’, it’s because the budget’s been set already.”

When preparing to ask for a promotion, timing can be just as important as evidencing your contribution. Knowing when the company’s financial planning period is crucial. If you go onto Companies House and look at the company account, you can see the filing date. Your employer’s financial year could run from January to December or more often from April to March.

Alternatively, you could align your request with recent positive developments within the company. Did you just land a major client or successfully complete a significant project? These moments of success are ideal for highlighting your contributions and the value you bring. If a raise isn’t immediately possible, don’t hesitate to inquire about the timeline for future consideration.

3. Navigating the negotiation

Senior Customer Experience Researcher at PensionBee; Priyal Kanabar says: “Make sure you have clarity about what your job role is, and that your manager is on the same page. Because what can end up happening is you absorb tasks from here and there, and your role becomes harder to benchmark.”

When negotiating, it’s best to focus on the value you bring to the company, not your personal needs. You may have found the cost of living crisis stretching your finances and your salary hasn’t kept pace with inflation. While this is valid, it isn’t a business case for progression. Instead highlight your achievements, contributions to projects, and how your work has benefited the organisation.

Although salary is undeniably important, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You may want to also consider negotiating other elements of the compensation package such as pension contributions, flexible work arrangements, health insurance and professional development opportunities. These can contribute significantly to your work-life balance, well-being, and career development.

4. Be prepared to walk away

Social Entrepreneur and Broadcaster; Natalie Campbell MBE says: “If you know what the salary is, or at least the benchmark of the salary, it means you can have a conversation. When you walk in and they say ‘what’s your salary expectation?’, that’s the biggest bear trap.”

It’s crucial to remember that negotiations are a two-way street. You should confidently advocate for yourself, but be prepared to walk away if necessary. If an employer isn’t willing to meet your expectations and reasonable requests, or if the company culture doesn’t value your skills and contributions, it might not be the right fit for you. As the saying goes: “know your worth, then add tax”.

A Glassdoor survey found that job hoppers experience an average salary increase of approximately 10% - 20% compared to those who stay in the same role over a long period. Plus, if you’re concerned about whether your new employer has a gender pay gap - you may be able to check online. Companies with more than 250 employees are legally required to declare their gender pay gap data on the government’s Gender Pay Gap Service.


Negotiating your salary and benefits package is a valuable skill that can significantly impact your earning potential. By closing the “ask gap”, timing your approach, considering the total compensation package, and being willing to walk away if needed, you can bridge the gap between your potential and your paycheque, ensuring you’re rewarded fairly for your work.

Listen to episode 25 of The Pension Confident Podcast and hear from our panel of expert financial guests as they discuss their experiences of negotiating pay, as both an employee and employer. You can also watch the episode on YouTube or read the transcript.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

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