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How to ask for a pay rise (and get one)!

How to ask for a pay rise (and get one)!
4th December 2017 Amy
people shaking hands, pay rise negotiation

How to ask for a pay rise (and get one)!

Speaking to your boss about a pay rise is not an easy task; in fact it can be a negotiation nightmare. It doesn’t have to be that way. Providing that your reasons are valid and your request is reasonable the process of asking for a pay rise should be simple. If you’re struggling to know where to start, we’ve got the basics covered.



Before anything else; research, research, and research!!

By looking at the salaries offered for comparable roles in your company, or your sector, you should be able to determine how well you are paid in comparison.

The easiest way to do this is by checking job boards for job advertisements similar to your own role from your competitors. Just be mindful of location, market and requirements of the role as these can all cause fluctuations in the salaries offered. You could also consider asking acquaintances in similar organisations who perform a role aligned with yours what they earn; this would provide you with a ‘real life’ example of expected earnings.

In addition, you could glean some further information by asking your colleagues what they earn. However, tread carefully. Some organisations have strict policies regarding revealing staff pay, and even if your colleague may openly tell you, using this during your negotiation could land you in hot water if that information is considered ‘privileged’.

Further reasons which may affect your chances of a raise include the current state of the market, the financial health of your company and how much you, and your department have contributed to company profits. Expansion, restructuring and redundancies can all have an impact on your likelihood of receiving a pay review. Understanding further if your company has a specific structure regarding pay increases is also encouraged. When do salaries usually get reviewed? Is it usually after a full year of service, or at the beginning (or end!) of the financial year when budgets are up for discussion? This information should be readily available from your HR department or employee handbook.

The more research you can do in advance of requesting a pay review, the higher the chances of you being successful. Be mindful that if your salary exceeds the market average, you may struggle to get that pay rise you would like.



Now that you have determined what others are paid and what is normal for your market, it’s time to focus on what you have done to deserve the raise you want.

You’ll need to consider ways you have gone above and beyond your job description; what have you done additionally that would we worthy of a pay rise? Have you taken on extra work or responsibilities, put in the extra hours or increased profit for the business since your salary was last reviewed? Even if you can’t quantify your contribution in terms of revenue or deals, identifying ways you have streamlined processes, used initiative or helped a colleague with a difficult situation will all highlight your justification for a pay increase. Things such as staff development, productivity improvements, cost savings and completing projects are all contributions that cannot necessarily be quantified in terms of targets, but are equally valuable to an organisation.

Be sure to highlight clear and concise examples to demonstrate your perspective, and why you feel you have surpassed your current pay grade.  It may also be useful to make a list of accomplishments you have achieved in this role to further support your case. Further, making note of things you are going to contribute towards during the next 6-12 months will also help. Offering to increase your responsibilities, or taking on other daily duties are good ways to convince your boss that you deserve a raise. It’s not simply enough to say that you’d like a pay rise because your colleague has just had one, and this could cause you issues if your company has policies regarding sharing privileged information.

The next step is to schedule a suitable time to speak, and inform your boss of the reason for meeting with them, so as not to blindside them. This will also ensure they are prepared to speak about your salary; they will have been able to do their research in advance and will be at least able to formulate an idea of what may be possible, prior to sitting down with you.

It may be that your boss is not the final decision maker, so it’s important to ensure everything you are using to state your case can be backed up in writing in case it needs to be passed on to the relevant parties.



Timing is everything.

It makes a difference when you speak to your boss, as an array of issues could take focus away from your request. Avoiding peak times when your boss will be preoccupied is recommended. For example, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons tend to be the busiest periods for most organisations; these should be avoided at all costs. As a general rule, afternoons are usually best; your manager should be more relaxed during the afternoon. Just make sure you have checked the schedule; important client meetings, or a big new sales pitch will take priority.

Obviously, in an ideal world you would only discuss your salary during your annual performance review. This is not always possible. It may also prove beneficial to wait towards the end, or the beginning of a financial year when budgets are being reviewed and the financial health, and success, of the business is already being discussed.

Furthermore, It’s worth noting that if the market has fallen on hard times, and if there are deliberations relating to cutting costs it may not be the best time to request more compensation. In addition, it is recommended not to ask for a pay rise more than once a year, as this will more than likely make you look greedy in the eyes of your boss. If the company is also in a period of financial hardship, this will make you look self-serving and unprofessional as well.

The best time to discuss this with your boss would be during a period of growth within your business, following a number of consecutive months of success for you and your department, ideally when there are no pressing or urgent requirements that need to be attended to. (You should have some idea of this from your initial research).

However, if this is not possible making sure you are in the best position to negotiate should help to make your meeting a positive one.



Whilst you should never judge a book by its cover, there is value in always portraying a professional demeanour.  How you dress during your work day can provide your superiors with clues as to your personality and work ethic. Managers are generally busy people who can make snap decisions based on appearance alone. Ensuring that the way you portray yourself shows you in the best possible light is important to your career success. Whilst it’s key to make sure that you are presentable for your meeting, dressing appropriately on a daily basis is equally essential.

In the meeting, you’ll likely be nervous. This is to be expected. Following some simple techniques for showing faux-confidence can help. Making eye contact, resisting the urge to fidget and sitting up straight all give off the impression of self-assurance and poise. Likewise, room-gazing, mouth covering and nervous-giggling are tell-tale signs that you are being insincere.



What’s happening in your personal life should have no impact on your requirement for a higher rate of pay. Whilst your boss can be (and should be) sympathetic to your personal circumstances, they should not be guilt-tripped into giving you more money based on your private matters. Using this tactic will automatically put you at a disadvantage. Buying your first home or having a baby are exciting milestones in life (and aren’t cheap!) but they are not a fundamental reason for a bump in pay. Instead, focus on your professional achievements and accomplishments to show your value and worth.



You’ve written your list of accomplishments and achievements, analysed where you have added value to your business, and considered ways you can further benefit your organisation in the future. What if your boss says no?

The best course of action in that situation is to remain professional and ask for feedback. What are the reasons at this time, and what can you do so that future meetings of this type reach a different resolution? Even if it is a no right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t turn it into a yes further into the future.


Whatever the motivations behind your requirement for a higher compensation package, there is definitely a right way to approach the subject with your manager. A combination of the right reasoning, right motivations, timing and attire can all contribute to your success. By understanding this, there is a much higher chance for success. Are your salary negotiations going nowhere? We can help. Click here to see our most recent vacancies.