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6 tips for nailing your annual review and how to ask for a pay rise

6 tips for nailing your annual review and how to ask for a pay rise

By Sophie Coulson



Young lawyers realise very quickly that our success often comes down to one thing – preparation. Annual reviews are no different. Good preparation is how you will nail your annual review.So, how do you best prepare for your review?

1.Check your performance

Find your job description and/or a list of the primary responsibilities of your role. Conduct a self-assessment by considering whether you are satisfying those responsibilities and to what degree.

2.List your achievements

Make a list of things that you have achieved since your last review. They can be significant or more minor (eg drafting written submission, appearing uninstructed in court or presenting a seminar or workshop to your peers), but they must be tangible.

3.Reflect on your experiences

Consider if there is anything you could have done differently that would have achieved a better result, or if there were any experiences that you’ve learnt from.

4.Reflect on set goals

If you set goals at your last review, consider what they were and whether you achieved them. Discuss these with your manager before setting new goals or reinstating old goals that weren’t accomplished. Some examples of good goals to have might be to complete more courses or education seminars, appear in higher courts or request particular cases (eg homicides or appeals).

5.Expand your role

Think about any additional responsibilities that you can take on and discuss these with your manager.

6.Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Ask for feedback and be prepared to receive and accept any constructive criticism. If you need more support or guidance to achieve your goals, make sure you discuss this with your manager.

It is not uncommon for pay rises to be linked to performance reviews. In determining whether an employee is deserving of a pay rise, an employer must consider whether that employee is exceeding the expectations of their role.

So how do you ask for a pay rise?

You should always do it in person. Pre-warn your manager by asking for a meeting and telling them what you would like to discuss at that meeting. The request for a meeting can be done by email. This will give your manager time to consider the issue prior to the meeting.

Prior to requesting a meeting, consider the timing of your request. When do budgets get set? Is your boss particularly busy and stressed at the moment? Have you achieved something professionally recently?

Make sure you are prepared to explain why you think you deserve a pay rise. The tips set out above will help you do this. You can practice by having a mock negotiation with your partner, a parent or a friend. Explain to them why you deserve a pay rise and let them ask questions. Your manager may ask whether you are prepared to add to your workload, so consider this also.

Critically, you should be prepared for the answer to be no. Don’t respond aggressively and do not get upset. Think in advance about how you will respond if your request is not granted. You may be able to negotiate other perks, such as increased super contributions or flexible working arrangements. A salary increase could always be available at a later date, but a poor reaction could have lasting impact on your relationship with your employer.

Sophie Coulson is a senior solicitor at the Office of Public Prosecutions Victoria.


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