How to ask for a pay rise

Asking for a pay rise can be a daunting task, but if you’re equipped with the right knowledge and a gracious approach, you increase the chance of success significantly.

Here are our tips to tackling this challenging, but important conversation with your manager.

State your case

When determining how to ask for a pay rise, you’ll need to present why you believe it’s deserving. Consider and write down responses to the below questions to start creating a compelling case.

Where am I today compared to 12 months ago?

To answer this question, use data, notes, reports, appraisals and feedback provided to you throughout the year. If you note marked growth, consider this a great first sign.

Have my duties changed?

Taking on more responsibility, coaching or training others, and performing duties outside your position description are all changes that could warrant a pay rise. Note them down as they occur.

How have I improved?

If you’ve learned new skills, processes or programs, if you’re excelling at those you already have and are participating more closely in the strategic development or projects, that’s another tick.

What have I contributed to the company?

Have you worked on large scale projects? Is your team’s morale better than ever? Consider how your work and skills have contributed to wider organisational success.

When noting down your responses, cite concrete examples, keep your language concise and use graphs or comparative charts where relevant. Did you reduce the time required to audit financial reports by 11%? Perhaps you responded to and satisfied 98% of customer queries? Whatever you achieved, note it down and be specific.

Learning how to ask for a pay rise successfully also means knowing what not to include:

Using time as a mantel

Pay rises aren’t issued because of how long you’ve been employed; they’re issued to reward exceptional performance and contribution to a team or organisation more widely. Using time as your rationale for why you should receive greater remuneration probably won’t yield the outcome you’re hoping for.

Comparing yourself to your colleagues

Again, this argument doesn’t define how you specifically have improved or contributed. Without knowing how individual salaries are determined or any personal negotiations underway, it’s best to keep colleagues to onside of this conversation.

Being irrational

Asking for a pay rise is a personal and often sensitive venture, where emotions can take over and lead to irrational requests, or even threats. Remember to be calm and confident, as you would in any other professional engagement or meeting. If you’ve done your research and can make a compelling case, you have little to worry about.

The right time

There are several elements to consider when choosing a time to ask your manager for a pay rise.

Every 12 months

A year is a reasonable amount of time in which to develop skills, complete projects and make significant positive changes to teams and procedure. While your request shouldn’t be dictated by the calendar, it is a conventional and practical period in which to consider asking your manager to reflect on your achievements.

Give adequate notice

Book time with your manager in advance, and never squeeze this discussion into the tail-end of another, unrelated meeting. Show that you take the conversation seriously and book a reasonable amount of time in which to talk through this important request.

Avoid busy periods or when stress is high

Similar to giving adequate notice, avoid asking for a pay rise if your team and manager are busy with important, time-consuming projects. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice, as tensions may be higher than usual, and you might not get the time this conversation requires. While you can’t control this, it’s worth being aware of.

 

Knowledge is power when learning how to ask for a pay rise

Know what your worth by familiarising yourself with the pay rise process at your company, and by researching average salary increases for your role and industry. Speak to colleagues within your company, research online, read books, extract information and case studies from people in your network, and understand (if only abstractly) national and even international market trends.

You should also use trusted, up-to-date resources, like Robert Half’s Salary Guide when asking for a pay rise. The guide is updated annually and contains in-depth information on hiring and workplace trends. Knowing this information will allow you to make a compelling and factually accurate case to your manager when you ask for a pay rise.

If an increase in your take-home salary isn’t an option, how else are employees rewarded for their efforts and loyalty? Make sure you research remuneration alternatives, including additional leave, revised work hours and other employee benefits such as travel, motor vehicle allowances and gym memberships.

Asking for a pay rise usually goes one of two ways - either you get it, or you don’t. No matter what the outcome, always be respectful, thanking the manager for their time and inviting feedback. If you didn’t get a pay rise, insist on regular catch-ups to track how you’re performing and ensure you’re successful next time. Knowing how to ask for a pay rise is an important skill you’ll use all throughout your professional life, and a process that can always be further developed.

Take a look at our career development hub for more career tips and advice.

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