Kath Knight, human resources director at multidisciplinary practice WSP, explains how to get the pay rise you know you deserve
British people are well-known for being shy and reserved. This means that most of us find talking about how much we are worth embarrassing. Pay reviews usually come around at Christmas, but it's no good deciding in December that you will become the perfect employee. To ensure that you get the pay rise you deserve, you need to be assertive and prepared.

What should I do and when?
Think about how you can make your boss' life easier. Could you take on more responsibility? Have you met the goals that were set for you last year? If you weren't set any goals, make sure that you meet your boss and decide on some as soon as you can. How will your boss know that you're doing a good job if nobody knows what you are aiming to achieve?

Don't go to your boss armed only with problems – always make sure you take some solutions with you. And make sure that you don't continually whinge about how busy you are: everyone should be busy at work – it's what we are paid for. To gain a pay rise or a promotion, you need to show that you are busy, that you are doing a very good job and that you have taken on more responsibility.

How can I take more responsibility?
You need to show initiative. Don't wait to be asked to do something – predict what needs to be done and get on with it. Make sure your boss notices, but do it subtly; reminding them on a daily basis will only be annoying and will undoubtedly work against you.

Be innovative – find out what is happening in the world outside and see if any of these new ideas could help your company. And keep up to date with your own professional area by reading books, journals and the trade press. Next time the managing director asks for your view on a topical matter, you will be ready to respond.

Generating new clients or business will make you popular with your boss, as will introducing quality staff. In today's market, this could save your company a fortune in recruitment fees and could even put you in prime position for a small bonus. So make sure that you are always rightly credited for your achievements.

You need to show initiative. Don’t wait to be asked to do something – predict what needs to be done and get on with it

What sort of increase should I expect?
Most companies set a limit on percentage increases that is determined by inflation rates and the current market. Be realistic about what you are worth: there is always someone that will pay you more than you are paid at the moment, but the grass is not always greener.

What if I don't get the pay rise I was looking for?
Ask to talk to your boss, but don't get angry and don't threaten to resign as this will not impress or worry anyone.

Find out why your boss doesn't think that you are worth as much as you think you are. If, after discussion, your boss does not feel that your work justifies any further increase at the moment, ask whether you can have an interim review in the middle of the year.

It is worth asking how your rise compares with percentages for other people at your level as you might find that your rise is not as small as you initially thought.