Need a pay increase? Here’s how you can ask

January 18, 2021

Asking for a pay rise is a struggle. You don’t want to seem entitled or greedy. You feel awkward about asking for more money.

If that’s you, I have good news for you. Although it may seem like a difficult task, in most cases, your boss will be ready and willing to hear you out.

And they’ll probably appreciate you being open and direct. Communicating with your employer about your wages is an important part of having a fulfilling career.

So here are some important questions to ask yourself, to help you discuss your pay in a professional and direct manner.

Negotiating a payrise at work with your employer

How much do you want?

Before you ask for a pay increase, you need to decide how much to ask for. It’s a good idea to work out the difference to your take-home pay as ultimately this is what you are wanting to increase. You can use this one.

After all, the first question your boss is likely to ask, is ‘How much?’

You need to be ready with a figure (and be prepared to negotiate). And you need to be sure that the wage you’re asking for is reasonable for your company and the position you hold.

Asking other employees at your company how much they make may not be the best route as the may be subject to confidentiality, but you may be able to find the information you need through a simple online search.

If you work at a multinational firm in a big city, for example, you can expect a higher salary than if you work at a smaller, regional firm.

Some companies put a per cent limit on how much of a pay rise they will grant within a financial year. Others have a complicated grading system with salaries capped within each grade – so you may need to apply for your grade to be reassessed before you can get a pay rise.

For these reasons, you really need to have a good idea of how much you would like to be making – and how realistic that is – before sitting down with your employer.

Otherwise, you’re only going to embarrass yourself, and them.

Research by Harvard Business School shows we tend to undersell and undervalue ourselves.

Why do you deserve it?

Think about your recent job performance and how long it’s been since your last pay increase.

If it has been more than a year since your last salary change and you’ve had a stellar performance since then, your employer will be more likely to consider your request.

Many companies perform periodic employee evaluations in order to determine pay increases, often on an annual basis.

If this is the case for the company you work for, it’s a good idea to put in your request a month or two before your review, so your employer will have time to think about it and act on it.

When and where will you ask?

Plan your meeting carefully and anticipate what will put your employer in the best position to say yes.

If they like a more formal environment, request your meeting in advance. If your employer is friendly and relaxed, be sure to pop in when it’s clear they have a few minutes to spare.

Remember that your boss is human, too, and likely has just as much going on in their day – so the last thing you’ll want to do is add additional stress.

Avoid asking to discuss your pay at times that are particularly hectic, or when your boss won’t be able to give you their full attention.

How will you ask?

When you talk to your boss, keep it brief and direct.

Base your arguments on your merit and not on why you need the raise. Focus on your accomplishments and keep the conversation positive.

For example, rather than complaining that another employee makes more than you, focus on the qualities you bring to the table that are unique and useful.

By keeping the focus on your contributions rather than your finances, your employer will be more likely to listen and consider the facts of the situation.

Ramit Sethi, a New York Times bestseller has a “5-month” process to ask for a pay rise and provides the exact scripts you need.

What do they get out of it?

A good way to boost your chances of success is to engage with your employer about your goals and future with the company.

If there is a promotion you have your eye on or a growth opportunity you’d like to take advantage of, this is a great time to mention it.

This will let your employer know that you’re serious about your career, giving them the extra reassurance they could need in order to invest more in you as an employee.

If you feel you bring extra value to the team, be sure to include examples during your meeting. This could be anything from a big sale you made, to a customer complaint that you fixed.

A few examples of what you do to go the extra mile for the company will go a long way in the mind of your superior.

What will you do if they say ‘No’?

Even if your meeting goes perfectly, there is always a chance that your boss will be unable to give you the increase you’ve requested. Perhaps a raise just isn’t in the budget at the moment.

Hearing ‘No’ can be disheartening, but you could turn it into an opportunity to earn a ‘Yes’ further down the track.

  • Listen to your boss’s reasons calmly and respectfully.
  • Ask if there is anything that you can do to earn the additional wage.
  • Express your gratitude for opportunities to take on more responsibility and show what a valuable employee you are.
  • Continuing to be the determined, driven, and dedicated worker you are is the best way to ensure your boss will remember you in a positive light and reward your hard work in the future.

Tip:If you’re feeling anxious about asking for a pay rise, start by asking yourself these questions. Not only will they help you prepare for your meeting – they’ll also boost your chances of successfully getting that pay rise you want.

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