Get the pay rise you deserve
How to get a salary raise
Asking for a pay raise can be difficult, especially in this economic climate. However, if you're really providing great value to your company and you believe that your pay, salary or compensation isn't quite enough, you're probably justified in asking for more.
If you want the most chance of getting a pay rise, you need to be prepared for that conversation with your boss; this article provides some hints and tips to help you prepare and how to handle the conversation itself.
Following the advice here can help to maximise the chances of you getting a salary rise, but you'll need to put aside enough time to get your thoughts in order and ensure that you handle your meeting with care and professionalism.
You can achieve this through the following:
- Plan your approach ahead of time - Gather information and think about your approach
- Stay positive and constructive - Focus on the good things about your role and don't bring up the negatives
- Leave opinion and emotion out of your conversation - Stay calm and be agreeable
- Control the situation - Have facts and figures in mind and rehearse the conversation
- Understand the value of the role - Investigate market rates and your job description
- Focus on the value that you bring - How well do you perform your job?
- Fallback position - Do you have a fallback position if you don't get a pay rise?
- Remember your boss's position - Understand where they are coming from
We'll cover each of these in more detail below.
Plan your approach ahead of time
- Spend some time thinking about what you are going to say - You will want to partly rehearse the conversation and how you are going to put your points forward. This will help you to avoid being flustered; although the conversation might not go exactly as you have planned, having your key points in mind will help you steer the conversation towards them and focus on your reasons for a pay raise
- Have your approach clearly in your mind or write it down - There's no harm in outlining the key topics that you're going to discuss. Because conversations can often take a tangent, having something you can refer back to is extremely helpful; put together a document covering all of your key points and take it into the meeting with you. You can then refer back to it to remind yourself and highlight key details
- Gather together important information - Make sure that you have all the key information, facts and figures to hand, so that if your boss asks a question you can quickly get to the answer; this will involve going through the rest of this guide and writing down anything you consider to be important and relevant to your specific situation; this will help when you ask for a raise!
Stay positive and constructive
- Focus on the positive things you bring to your role and your business - Always focus on the value that you add to your role and to your business; keep the mood and conversation upbeat and constructive - Use words like 'I am', 'I can', 'I have' etc.
- Don’t talk too much about negatives - Never ask for a pay rise due to negative factors (I need more money, Dave earns more than me etc.) This will put both you and your boss in a negative state of mind and makes it easier for them to say no
Leave opinion and emotion out of it
- Stay calm, don’t be nervous about asking for a pay raise - You're doing this for a good reason; control your breathing and quieten your mind. Just before the meeting, take a little time to take a few deep breaths
- Don’t get flustered, angry or upset, this is a business meeting - Be professional and courteous, treat your boss with respect and understand their position
- Be positive, agreeable and confident - Remember that you need to put yourself forward in the best possible way; where possible, use agreeable language but remember why you are there - to ask for a raise
- Never ask for a pay rise due to ‘external factors’ - It should be based on the value you provide, now and in the future, not on what you could get elsewhere or for some other reason. Remember, you are being paid for the value you bring to your current employer
- Never give an ultimatum - People never respond well to ultimatums. Never threaten to leave or make a fuss, bosses won’t respond well!
- Don’t talk *too* much - Leave silences so that your boss can speak. If we're nervous there's a tendency to talk a lot, avoid that; you don't want to do all the talking, so take time to listen, it's a two way conversation
- Don’t wait for the right time, it will never come - Schedule a meeting soon and get it in your boss's diary
Getting a Pay Raise - Key Points
A quick quiz on asking for a pay rise
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Control the situation
- Schedule a meeting with your boss when neither of you is likely to be disturbed - You will want at least half an hour and probably an hour
- Have a figure in mind for how much of a pay raise you want - When your boss asks what you're looking for, have a figure ready; you can look at other rates in the market to give you a starting point and also base it on the additional value you're providing to the business
- Have a fallback position - If you can't have a pay rise, can the company offer you anything else? More holiday, better health care or other benefits? More money in the bank isn't the only thing you can ask for
- Rehearse your approach - write down your key points so you don't forget them, think about how you're going to answer specific questions and have your approach clearly in mind
Understand the value of your role
- Investigate market rates for jobs of a similar level to yours - Places like GlassDoor are a good place to start; also look at job boards and listings; you'll want to get an idea of what other employers are paying. Of course, if you're doing more than your job role demands, perhaps look at the pay for more senior posiitons
- Look at your job description - Are you fulfilling all of your role or going above and beyond? It could be that you're due a promotion and a pay rise could go in line with that. Look through your responsibilities and accountabilities and note down how you're performing against each
Five tips when asking for a pay raise
How did it work for me?
I know these techniques work because I used them myself over several years to get a number of pay raises. I was a middle manager in a large business and constantly tried to do my job as well as I could, which was reflected in my performance reviews.
I would schedule a meeting with my boss once a year and have an idea of what I wanted, following the ideas in this guide. Over seven years, I managed to increase my salary by between 5% and 8% per year. It really can work if you try it out.
Focus on the value you (specifically) bring to the role
- How well do you perform your job? - have concrete examples of how you do your job well and go above and beyond what is asked of you
- What was your last job performance review like? - Have your review to hand so that you can refer back to it and reinforce the positive points, especially if you've adapted to feedback
- What new responsibilities or accountability's have you taken on?
- How does what you actually do differ to what your job description says? - How much more do you do? Provide demonstrable information
- What value do you provide to your business? - Have specifics on hand (e.g. sales figures, extra curricular activities, product lines you have pushed for, ideas you have had. If you provide definable value to your business, you're more likely to get a pay raise. These should all be concrete examples that clearly demonstrate how you have gone above and beyond to build the business (i.e. bring in more interest/money)
Where might you be adding extra value?
Things to think about
Have you gone substantially beyond any targets that have been set for you? How are you performing against measurable targets?
Secondment / Acting Up
Have you stepped into another role to help out? If you've been acting up in the absence of someone else, that's a great indication of extra responsibility
Mentoring / Training
Do you provide training, mentoring, coaching or other advisory or pastoral care for colleagues?
Job Evaluation / Performance
How was your last job review? If you've had some excellent feedback on your performance, bring this up
Have you taken on more responsibilities, areas of accountability, line management or functions?
Are you a 'safe pair of hands' that others rely on to get things done? If so, use this to your advantage
Managing Difficult Situations
Do you have to deal with problematic colleagues or situations? Do you manage conflict and difficulties well?
Have you been successful in getting a pay rise?
- If you can’t get a pay rise now, then when? - Ask for a review in three months
- If they can’t offer a pay rise, can they provide something else? (e.g. extra holiday, pension or other benefits)
- Can you go into another role at the business that commands higher value and therefor a higher salary?
- Can you take on extra work / responsibility and link this to a pay raise? - Or could you simply add some formality around the work you are already doing that’s above and beyond? Could this be a performance related bonus?
Remember your boss’s position
- It's a difficult, competitive environment, they may not be able to say yes
- Your boss should treat you with fairness, sensitivity, openness and honesty; it should be a two way conversation that both of you can use to understand the likelihood of you getting a pay rise now or the possibility of getting one in future
Following the advice in this article will put you in a much stronger position when it comes to asking for a pay raise. Whatever your approach or specific situation, I wish you all the best in your conversation with your boss and will keep my fingers crossed that you get the salary raise you are looking for.
Have you managed to get a pay raise or are you thinking about asking for one? Let us know in the comments how it went and share any hints you have on getting the conversation to go your way.