If you've recently discovered that you’re not earning as much as you perhaps should be, don’t panic; you’re not alone.

The recession rendered 2.68m British people unemployed and as many employers were forced to streamline their workforce during these uncertain times, employees took on a greater workload and accepted the inevitable pay freeze – many just grateful to be in employment at all.

But the UK economy has since recovered and the employment rate now stands at 73.3% - the highest rate of people in work since ONS records began (1971), and subsequently, many employers are now expanding teams and returning to business as usual.

With recovery going from strength to strength across most industries, now is the perfect time to make a change. It’s time to take control of your career and take actionable steps towards improving your salary – here are a couple of ways you can do this:

Option 1 - Request a raise

Negotiating a raise is an excellent way to boost your salary because you’re essentially doing the same job and investing the same amount of time in your role, but earning more money.

However, you’ve still got to make a strong argument in favour of a rise and not just expect it.

Here are five things to consider when asking for a raise:

Tread carefully if you’re making your request during budget cuts

If Randstad’s salary checker has shown that you’re being underpaid in both the role and industry, ensure that your boss knows you’re aware of the budget cuts, but explain that you’ve done your research and are being underpaid both in the company and externally. If the timing proves too difficult, ask your employer to revisit your request in six months. 

Don’t ask if you haven’t been performing at your best or exceeding expectations.

You need to think of your request as a business case that details your successes and justifies your career capital; that is, why you’re a valuable employee and why your employer should want to keep you and reward your efforts. Your argument should be about what you’ve accomplished and what salary would be appropriate based on your performance.

Don’t complain or moan about how unfair your remuneration is at present.

Approach your request for a raise objectively. Outline the facts and make sure that you don’t allow the discussion to become personal or emotional, however frustrated you may be.

Don’t approach the conversation with a sense of entitlement. 

Do your research and explain how you’ve exceeded expectations or taken on a greater workload, and then introduce your findings on comparative salaries. Don’t demand an increase based on what your research may have told you, as every company and circumstance will differ. 

It’s best not to name your price.

If you’re asked how much you want, say that you’d like to understand what the company can offer based on your proposal. If your manager continues to demand a figure and you’re confident that you’ve proven you’ve delivered over and above expectations, make sure that you state the upper end of your salary range. The number you give will be the maximum amount you’ll receive so aim high if you’ve delivered a great case for an increase.

Option 2 - Change jobs

If you’re not happy where you are or are confident that your existing employer will not be able to meet your salary expectations, consider changing jobs.

This is generally the best way for you to boost your earnings and negotiate the starting salary you deserve.

A new company wants you but they’re not sure if they can get you – use this to your advantage and go for it! You’re setting yourself a new benchmark for future salary increment - the only way is up!

If you think the time is right to change jobs, check out the Randstad Jobs page.