Julie Cressey, chief operating officer of Madison Recruitment, says the best way to broach the subject of a pay rise is to book a meeting with your manager and be honest about the fact that you would like to discuss your remuneration.

She suggests some "do's and don'ts" to ease the process:

* Do your research first. There are several good online salary guides; call and ask an agency for advice; use your networks.

* Do think about your industry sector. There can be differences, so just comparing the same role but in a totally different industry may not be the best course of action - get broad figures and then provide your manager with a salary band for your role.


* Don't blindside your manager, that is, don't ask them without prior warning of your request.

* Do ensure you are well prepared for your meeting. Have several examples ready as to why you feel it is deserved.

* Don't threaten to leave if you don't get what you want. Don't suggest anything that you are not prepared to follow up on.

And as for who finds it easier to ask, opinions are divided as to whether it's a gender thing or down to our personality type.

Sarah Wilshaw-Sparkes of online community forum Professionelle.co.nz says she often hears women are less upfront about asking for a pay rise.

"As a group, we seem to expect our hard work to speak for itself and be rewarded accordingly."

Cressey sees it differently. "I think it is more of a behavioural trait as opposed to a gender trait. Some people are just more confident and comfortable in asking for a pay rise."

She feels that in the current economic environment, people are far more aware of the state of the organisation in which they work and therefore recognise when it may, or may not, be appropriate to ask for a pay rise.

"However, companies still recognise top talent and whereas you may not have 'across the board' pay increases, if you are a high performer and valued by the business then increases can and still do occur."

Mike Baker, director of IT recruitment company Helium Work-Search, agrees with Cressey.

In his opinion the suitability of a pay-rise request would depend on the industry and the skills on offer.

"If an employee determines that there is a risk - perhaps they can see how a company is performing or there have been recent layoffs - then it is unlikely they will ask, and will just seek the security of having a job.

"Skilled people, where it is known their skills are in demand, will have less risk but again it will depend on their own circumstances."

He says some contractors will not work for anything less than a figure they have in mind and will stick it out until something comes along with the right money.

Others will comfortably work within a range, as they believe it's better to actually have a role than to be trying to explain employment gaps in a CV.

In its guidelines on researching an appropriate increase, Helium Work-Search says planning and preparation are key. So are timing, your employer's pay practices, and the market-based pay rates for your job.

It is suggested you approach the exercise with care as making the wrong move can prove costly, and if not handled correctly you might damage your relationship with your boss.

Helium says often as individuals we have a higher belief in our skills and experience than our employer may have. If you are comparing yourself with another employee who appears to have the same function within the organisation, the effort or output of the role may not necessarily be the same.

It is important to know the market rate for your job, and remember there is a range between the top and bottom.

When preparing your presentation, Helium suggests looking at your work contributions to determine how you will present your pay rise request, and making a list of the goals you have accomplished. Then make a list of any additional responsibilities you have added to your job and try to demonstrate where you add value.

Negotiation skills can be learned from books, resources, networking, and friends who have successfully negotiated a pay rise.

Seek out actual examples, rather than theoretical and textbook cases - live situations are better for providing you with knowledge and experience.

Then set up a meeting with your immediate supervisor and tell him/her the specific pay rise you would like.

Present thorough research supporting your request, including specific evidence of where you excel in the job.

If your manager tells you he cannot provide a pay rise at present, ask what you need to do to make yourself eligible as soon as pay rises are available.

Seek specific direction about areas in which you can improve.

If you are using an offer from another employer to negotiate a pay rise, be prepared to fail, as this strategy is akin to blackmail. And threatening to leave if you don't receive a pay rise is not recommended - it is unprofessional and counter-productive.

Before asking for a pay rise:

* Be realistic when appraising your skills.
* Familiarise yourself with your employer's pay practices - what is the range of the scale for your current role. What is the range for the next step up?
* Listen to your employer. If the employer announces the pay increase will be 4 per cent across the board, then you are unlikely to negotiate more money.
* Research market pay rates for your job. Try to ascertain where your company fits within the wider market pay scales. Where do you sit in relation to pay scales?
* Read your employer's handbook. If a policy or a process exists, your pay rise will follow this exactly.