How To Ask For A Pay Rise... And Actually Get It

24 January 2020

Salary Increase

January is a time to reflect on your career - meaning many of you are probably wondering if you’re getting paid enough.

If it’s been a while since your last pay rise, you’ve increased your responsibility, or you suspect you’re being underpaid, then now could be the perfect time to ask. Indeed, in some organisations, without asking, you may not get a raise at all (hey, no-one said life was fair). But how?
To help, we’ve summarised the process in three easy steps, giving you the best chance of securing the salary you deserve.

Step 1: Prepare

  • Plan ahead. Jane Dobson, Sales Director at Oracle, has navigated many pay negotiations during her career, from both sides of the table. She advises starting well in advance. “Build internal relationships with mentors or champions: people that will vouch for your worth. Initiating regular conversations with your manager about your development will help them to understand you’re committed and ready to step up. Finally, you need to fully understand your company’s pay and promotion process before you make your move”.
  • See the bigger picture. Be aware of the financial status of the business. If it’s not profitable or growing, or you know there’s been a pay/recruitment freeze, it’ll be harder to secure your payrise. You might be better off waiting until the situation changes.
  • Check salary stats. It’s rare for salary information to be shared openly, making it difficult to know your worth. Luckily, there are some sources at hand. Glassdoor has salary data on companies, and you can search jobs similar to yours to see advertised salaries. Talking to specialist recruiters can help too.
  • Record your achievements. Asking for a payrise involves making a business case for why you deserve more cash. You’ll need evidence to back up your arguments, so make sure you can demonstrate exactly how you over-performed, went beyond your role, etc. Ideally, ask for your payrise following a big success, like the completion of a project or big client win.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Take a breath and banish your awkwardness and anxiety. You deserve this! Which brings us on to…

Step 2: Just do it

  • Pick your moment. Find a time to talk to your line manager in confidence. This could be at a regular 121 or review, but if there’s not one upcoming, simply book some time in their diary. Choose a time when they’re likely to be in a good mood and free from distraction (avoid end of quarter/project deadline/ Monday morning etc). Don’t be tempted to ask over email - it’s much easier for your boss to say no - but do follow up with an email after meeting thanking them for their consideration and briefly restating your case.
  • Come prepared. You’re making a business case here; come with bullet points of your achievement and salary data to show your market worth (See above).
  • Get your pitch spot on. Start by expressing your love for the job, your commitment to the company and your ambition in the company. Then set out your case in a rational, way, using data. Jane’s top tip here is “Focus on what you deserve, not what you need”. As much as your manager might sympathise that you’ve had another child/increased your mortgage/adopted a high-maintenance alpaca, the only way they can justify your payrise internally is by arguing your current pay doesn’t reflect your business value. Practice beforehand to make sure you nail it – you want to come across confident, positive and self-assured (definitely NOT argumentative or apologetic).
  • Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than you need/expect, but don’t overdo it as you don’t want to come across as arrogant. (avoid wildly unrealistic requests by researching). Remember: what you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Step 3: The Aftermath

If they say yes - well done! Thank your manager with an email and carry on the great work.
If it’s a no; don’t worry, there are things you can do. And know that it’s illegal to fire you because you asked for a pay rise.
Firstly, enquire politely exactly why your request was refused. If there’s genuinely no budget, you could ask for other benefits like flexible working, more annual leave, or travel cost subsidies. If it’s performance related, ask what you need to do to get to the next level. Either way, try to establish when you can next review. If it seems that they haven’t got all the information, you can always try to build a stronger case using evidence in a follow up email.
If the answer is still no, and you don’t feel the explanation is fair, then consider whether the organisation is for you. If you think it’s time to move on, check out our live openings here.