A Guide to Asking for & Getting the Pay Rise You Deserve
Asking your manager for a pay rise can be nerve-wracking, so much so that some people wait months or even years before asking for what they deserve.
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a pay rise that reflects your hard work. But some approaches and best practices will always get better results than others.
Even though your manager has data on the hard work you’ve been doing, you still need to present your case for why you deserve a higher salary and be prepared to negotiate.
This guide will cover preparing to ask for a pay rise, how/when to ask for and justify it, the right questions to ask, negotiating with your manager, and recovering from an unsuccessful request.
How to Prepare
You should never ask for a pay rise without preparing for this conversation. No matter how good your relationship is with your manager, they will be expecting you to prove that you deserve the salary you’re asking for and won’t respond favourably if it seems like you did not prepare.
Before broaching the subject of a pay rise, always:
1) Build Your Case: The most important thing you can do before asking your boss for a raise is to know exactly why you are deserving of one. When you’ve built a strong case for yourself, it will be much easier to ask for what you want with confidence. Look back to recent projects and periods where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible.
2) Know Your Worth: Identify your worth to understand your market value both inside and outside the company. This will help you determine if you’re getting paid fairly and set a realistic number to bring to the table when negotiating your salary. You can calculate your market value by using tools like Glassdoor’s salary calculator to get an estimate of what you should be making based on your location and experience level. If your current salary is not reflective of your market value, you can use this as a justification for why you should be paid more.
When to Ask for a Pay Rise
Picking the right time to ask for a pay rise is just as important for preparing for this discussion. When you ask for a pay rise at the wrong time, it can result in a negative response or an awkward conversation that could damage your relationship with the manager.
A few great times to ask for a pay rise are:
1) Annual Performance Reviews: A natural time for this conversation may be at your annual performance review when the topic of salary is not only timely but often expected.
2) After Completing an Important Project: A great time to ask for a pay rise is after successfully completing an important project or an assignment where you went above and beyond in your work responsibilities that contributed to the company’s success.
3) When Your Manager Is Happy: Asking for a pay rise during a stressful or hectic period will guarantee that your manager is short on time and patience. Wait to ask for a pay rise until the dust has settled and you have, once again, proved your worth.
On the other hand, there are times when you should not ask for a raise, such as:
1) After the company has experienced a financial setback: Your employer may need to cut costs in order to survive, and a raise is unlikely to be on their minds at this time.
2) Following a pay or recruitment freeze announcement: These types of announcements often indicate that the organization is experiencing financial difficulties, and your request is unlikely to get a positive reaction.
3) A particularly busy time in the quarter or year-end: Managers are less likely to pay attention to your request since they may be dealing with other priorities at these times.
What to Say to Get a Pay Rise
After preparing your evidence for why you deserve a pay rise and choosing a good time to talk to your manager, it’s important to think about what you’re going to say during your pay rise conversation. Starting the conversation off in the right way will ensure you get a positive response and may even help sway your manager’s decision in your favour. While you don’t need to have a strict script, it’s a good idea to have a few phrases up your sleeve to help guide the conversation.
1) Be Clear: A good way to begin a pay rise discussion is to clearly state your interest in receiving a pay increase. This will help get your manager’s attention and set expectations for what will be discussed during the meeting. You may say something like: “As I’m looking forward to working and growing with the company, I’d love to discuss my salary.” Or “I’m interested in discussing my salary, is now an appropriate time?”
2) Be Specific: Once you’ve set expectations for your pay rise conversation with your manager, be specific about what you are looking to receive. Mention your desired salary range and outline how you came to this conclusion. Reference the salary research you’ve done. Also, be clear about when you’d like your new desired salary to be effective and any other details that are pertinent to your desired compensation.
3) Be Confident: What you say is important, but how you say it carries a lot of weight. Make eye contact with your manager and express confidence in what you’re saying without being too aggressive or pushy. You want your manager to see your request for a pay increase as reasonable and justified rather than greedy or demanding.
4) Express Gratitude: Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have at the company is a professional preface to a request for more money. Even if your current salary isn’t on par with others in your industry or with your company’s internal policies, you can still show appreciation for your job and the opportunities it has provided. Saying something like, “I feel incredibly lucky to have this job and I’m thankful for the opportunities it has given me so far” is a good way to show that you’re appreciative of the job.
5) Express Enthusiasm: Sharing excitement for your own and the company’s future goals is a way to show you’re invested in doing your job well. Highlighting ways of how you can be a valuable member of the team going forward can help the manager see the value of your contribution and justify an increase in pay. You might say something along the lines of “I’ve been really enjoying my time here. I’m especially excited about the company’s new goals and the direction we’re heading in.”
How to Justify Your Pay Rise
It can be easy to assume that your employer will be willing to immediately increase your salary based on your hard work and the great results delivered. However, this is often not the case. As such, it is essential that you have a strong justification to support your salary increase request. Here are some tips for you.
- Use specific, recent accomplishments and the value you’ve brought to the company as reasons why you deserve the salary you’re proposing.
- Quantify your value with data and awards/accolades so you can demonstrate more tangibly how you’ve contributed to your company’s bottom line.
- Present the points for your justification for a pay rise in a logical, compelling way.
- Respond to questions from your manager about your pay rise logically and tactfully to further justify your request.
Important Questions to Ask
Asking questions of yourself and your manager is important for getting the pay rise that you want. These questions can help you think about your situation objectively and prepare your argument for requesting a pay rise.
Questions for Yourself
- Does the pay rise I plan to ask for truly reflect the value that I bring to this team and company?
- Is the pay rise I want realistic or will I be asking for compensation beyond my experience?
Questions for Your Manager
- What are the new responsibilities that will come along with this pay rise?
- Will this pay rise involve managing or reporting to new colleagues?
- If a pay rise isn’t possible at the moment, when will it be possible?
Following this pay rise, what will be required to advance even further in my career at this company?
What to Expect
If you have chosen an appropriate time to ask for a pay rise and have built your case for a pay rise with specific evidence of your great work, you should expect your manager to give your proposal serious consideration. More specifically, you should also expect:
1) Questions: Expect some direct questions about the accomplishments you’re using to justify your pay rise, your plans for your future at the company, as well as the classic, “Why do you think you deserve this pay rise?”
2) Negotiation: Your manager will likely offer a counterproposal for how much they believe you should earn based on your qualifications and/or current salary range. You should be prepared to accept this counteroffer or negotiate upward by pointing to your worth and addressing any concerns regarding your requested salary increase.
3) Compromise: You may not be able to get the pay rise you want today, but a compromise will help you take a step in the right direction. Make sure that any promised or conditional future pay rises you discuss are documented in writing.
How to Negotiate More
When a manager’s proposal for your pay rise doesn’t match the salary you objectively deserve, it’s time to negotiate for more. These 5 steps will guide you through this negotiation:
1) Set your expectations. Define with constitutes a good deal for you and what you will do if you receive an offer that falls below your expectations. It’s important to note that you may not be able to get the salary you want immediately.
2) Do your homework so your manager doesn’t have to. Establish your target salary and the accomplishments and accolades that justify your request for a salary increase. Armed with this information, it will be easier to convince your manager of the value that you add to the company.
3) Start the conversation. Get on your manager’s calendar for an appointment to discuss the matter in person. Prepare for the conversation by identifying what to want to achieve in the meeting and make a plan for negotiating around your manager’s objections.
4) Set a goal and establish a timeline. Establish specific goals on a timeline with your manager for reaching your desired salary. These goals should be concrete and measurable, such as completing a certain number of certifications or working a specific number of hours on an important project.
5) Work with your manager to reach your goal. Create a concrete plan of action for achieving your goals. Make sure to continue communicating with your manager and sharing updates on your progress.
Things to avoid when asking for a pay rise
When asking for a pay rise, there are some common missteps you should avoid as they will only serve to undermine your case and hurt your chances of getting your desired results. These include the following:
- Avoid talking too much during your conversation. Try to keep it brief by focusing on key points and leaving out extraneous information.
- Regardless of how much you disagree with your company’s pay practices or how much you deserve a higher salary, do not let emotions get in the way of having a conversation with your manager. Stay calm and objective and present a strong argument supporting your request.
- Avoid being pushy or demanding. The best way to get what you want is to work with your employer to come up with a mutually beneficial solution that works for both of you.
What to Do After a Pay Rise Conversation
After having a pay rise conversation, it’s crucial that you sustain or even exceed the performance levels that you are using to justify your desired salary. It’s also important that you and your manager are on the same page about any new responsibilities that are coming along with your new pay rise, including:
- New deliverables
- New colleagues to manage
- New superiors to report to
- New performance standards
To accomplish the above, you’ll need to regularly check in with your manager throughout the new process and make sure you are on track to complete the additional work that was outlined in your compensation plan. This will ensure that you and your manager are satisfied with the new responsibilities and expectations outlined in the pay rise agreement and that the change process goes as smoothly as possible.
How to Recover From a Failed Pay Rise Conversation
Sometimes, there will be no room in your company’s budget for a pay rise. When this happens, it’s important to recover gracefully and to set yourself up for a successful pay rise conversation the next time around.
Make a Plan: If you can’t get the pay rise you deserve now, set up a plan with your manager with a specific time-table and specific goals for you to reach your desired salary.
- Additional holiday time
- Title change
- Half-day Fridays
If you have any more questions about asking for a pay rise or calculating the salary you deserve, here are some related articles.