How to Ask for a Pay Rise

Smiling female client talking to male manager

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 for 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 the hard work that you do, but there are some approaches and best practises that 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 you need to 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:

Build Your Case: Look back to recent projects and periods of time where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible.

Know Your Worth: Glassdoor’s Salaries tool gives you insight into what people with your job title in your location are earning. If you are below the normal salary for workers like you, the Salaries tool can be a powerful data point in your negotiations.

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 considering a good time to ask for a pay rise, find out when your company’s fiscal budget planning takes place so you can be sure that you aren’t asking for the impossible.

A few great times to ask for a pay rise are:

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.

After Completing an Important Project: A great time to ask for a pay rise is after successfully completing an important project or showing excellent work.

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.

When to Ask for a Pay Rise

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.

You don’t need to have a strict script, but you do need to be clear and specific in your delivery and it helps to have a few phrases up your sleeve to help guide the conversation.

  • Be Clear: An easy way to begin a pay rise discussion is to 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?”
  • Be Specific: Mention your desired salary range and specifically 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.
  • Be Confident: How is an employer going to feel comfortable giving you a pay rise if you’re unsure yourself?
  • Express Gratitude: Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have at the company is a professional preface to a request for more money.
  • Express Enthusiasm: Sharing excitement for your future goals, and for the future goals of the company, is a way to show you’re invested in doing your job well.
What to Say to Get a Pay Rise

How to Justify Your Pay Rise

Justifying your desired salary will be accomplished with specific examples of work done well.

  • Use specific, recent accomplishments and the value you’ve brought to the company as reasons for 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.
How to Justify Your Pay Rise

Important Questions to Ask

Asking questions of yourself and your manager is important for getting the pay rise that you want.

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?
Important Questions to Ask

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.

You should also expect:

  • 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?”
  • Negotiation: You will probably have to negotiate on the specifics of the pay rise you are asking for.
  • 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.
What to Expect

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. 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 this salary.
  3. Start the conversation. Start a conversation with your manager to begin working out how to reach your target salary.
  4. Set a goal and establish a timeline. Establish specific goals on a timeline with your manager for reaching your desired salary.
  5. Work with your manager to reach your goal. Make sure to meet your goals and that your manager is paying close attention to your progress.
How to Negotiate More

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 crucial 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.
What to Do After a Pay Rise Conversation

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.

Ask for More Perks: If there is no way that your salary can be increased now, you can still get better compensation for your work by asking for more workplace perks, like:

  • Additional holiday time
  • Title change
  • Half-day Fridays
  • Flextime
  • Telecommuting

Learn More!

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