Tips on how to ask for a pay rise

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Asking for an increase in your salary might be one of the conversations that you most fear in the workplace but do it right and you might find not only that you are being rewarded financially, but that you are more respected for your contribution too!

  1. Arm yourself with the facts
    Write down what you have achieved in the last year and try to make this information as quantifiable as possible. This can be easy if you have a direct financial impact – but can be more challenging if your contribution doesn’t translate to money. Think about how you measure your impact - Have you attracted new customers/clients? Have you introduced any new and successful ideas to the team? You also need to consider your previous pay - how long has it been since your last raise? Has inflation made an impact on your salary?

  2. Research the role elsewhere
    Look into average salaries for similar roles in other organisations. Salary surveys are carried out frequently and can help you to see comparative data across the industry. Be careful about comparing yourself to your colleague’s salaries as this might be confidential information and it can put your manager in an awkward situation.  (NB – this article is discussing asking for a pay rise, not pay discrimination.  If you feel your salary is lower than colleagues due to gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion then you need to seek further advice before pursuing your claim.)

  3. Ask in writing first
    Before you meet face to face, put the facts down on paper or in an email. Allow your manager time to consider what you are saying and request that you follow this up with a face to face meeting to discuss your request for an increase.  You might wish to tie this in with a performance review but always state that you wish to include a discussion of your salary at the same time, don’t put them on the back foot.

  4. Time your request 
    Think about the best time to ask your question – in the middle of your organisation’s busiest period is a bad idea, as is a Friday afternoon or first thing on a Monday morning when your manager might be distracted. Pick a time when you know you will have their full attention.  Secondly, time it for when you have recently completed a piece of work – this will give you more justification when your success is still fresh in their mind.

  5. Keep it polite, but assertive
    What should you actually say in the meeting? The best approach is to start positively – tell them how much you enjoy your role – and only then move on to highlight your achievements, especially where you exceed what was stated in your job description.  Talk a little about what you plan to do over the next year to keep the focus on your future with the organisation.  Then, bring in the research you have done about salaries in similar fields and highlight the gap between your salary and where you could be.  Be decisive and ask for exactly what you want – a specific amount or percentage increase but allow a little room for negotiation.  Keep the conversation rational and avoid being emotional – you need to justify a rise, not ask for one because you’d like it. 

  6. Keep expectations reasonable
    Make sure what you are asking for can be easily justified. While this is a negotiation, it needs to be something your manager can actually agree to.  If you are asking to earn more than all your other colleagues, it might not be possible for them to justify that raise.  If they do turn down your salary increase, are there other things you can ask for instead – A course you are interested in studying being funded by your employer?  Additional holiday allowance? 

  7. What if they say no?
    Of course, this is an option but how should you handle your request being rejected? The key thing is to be polite and take your time to consider your position.  If the increase you have asked for is easily justified, you might have to think about applying for a position elsewhere and you will need to be able to ask for a reference.  Don’t, however, threaten to leave if you don’t intend to follow through, you might find yourself in a very difficult situation.  Instead, ask to review the position again in six months time – the organisation might be in a better place to consider your request at that stage and you have made it clear that this is something that you are serious about. 

  8. What if they say yes?
    If your pay rise is agreed, follow up by thanking your manager in writing. After all, this will probably not be the last time you go through this process and you want it to be a positive experience for you both. 

Remember, it is very common to feel nervous about approaching your manager to ask for a pay rise, however, this does not mean it is something you should avoid. Practice what you will say, counter likely objections they may make, and you should find that the more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. 

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