Asking for a pay rise is daunting for even the most confident employees, but getting your market value is important for both your self-esteem and career development. This simple five-step guide on how to ask for a pay rise will give you a much better chance of getting it.
Why ask for a pay rise?
There are lots of reasons for asking for a pay rise. Firstly, the cost of living continues to make headlines and if your company is doing well financially, it's reasonable to ask for a pay rise. Secondly, you may deserve a pay rise and have not had a salary increase for a while. Thirdly, the market rate for similar roles has changed and you realise you are now underpaid.
Why you should plan how to ask for a pay rise
By preparing what you say you will better articulate your case for a pay rise. It also gives you a chance to calm your nerves making asking for a pay rise less daunting. It also means you will appear more confident, as well as be able to focus on answering questions your manager may ask effectively. Finally, you will be able to present your case more effectively having researched and listed the reasons why you deserve a pay review.
5 steps on how to ask for a pay rise
1. Research salary range for similar roles
Lots of online salary checker tools are available for free to use, e.g. Glassdoor; Reed; Totaljobs; and Indeed. Make sure you add location if the tool allows because location makes a difference to average salary; expensive cities like London and Cambridge, will bump up average salaries.
By researching the salary range for your job role, you will know if your salary is below average and give you an idea of what you should be paid. From there you can work out what pay increase to ask for and have a figure in mind when you discuss your salary.
2. Make a case for a pay rise
List the reasons why you deserve a pay rise. Base it on your performance. You can do this by looking back at your past performance reviews and projects you have completed to tease out how you have contributed to the team and company. Write them down and back your statements with stats. For example, saying: "I have not only met targets in the last 12 months but exceeded them by x%". Where your work is less about quantitative targets and more about quality and contribution to team projects you can cite feedback, both received informally and at performance reviews.
Look at your job description against the duties you now perform. Is there a difference? Do you now have more responsibilities? What about your skills set and qualifications? Have you gained new skills or become more qualified since your last pay review?
Your reasons and arguments for getting a salary increase should be based on the above factors. However, occasionally, it could be because you feel you are not being paid fairly or you are feeling the cost of living pinch. Perhaps you are experiencing a gender pay gap or just not being paid the same as your colleagues with the same job role and experience. Don't be afraid to say so but do it calmly and professionally, citing the evidence you have gathered, e.g., if your pay is significantly lower than a colleague's.
3. Choose a good time
There are good times for asking for a pay rise and bad times. Good times include:
- When the company is experiencing growth and financial success.
- After you have completed a successful project.
- After an excellent performance review.
- When it's natural to discuss your salary such as at an appraisal meeting.
- In good time for your company's financial cycle, i.e., find out what month in the year when salaries are considered.
Bad times to ask for a pay rise include:
- When your manager is swamped with work and can barely think past her/his next deadline let alone your request.
- When your company is experiencing financial loss and laying off staff.
- In the middle of a project, unless you’re always in the middle of a project.
4. Asking for a pay rise
Schedule a meeting with your manager and allow for plenty of time, at least 30 minutes; don't just try to 'catch 5 minutes of their time'. If they ask what the meeting is for, say it's to discuss your performance rather than your salary. Otherwise, coincide it with a performance review.
Stick to your prepared script (with a figure in mind from the salary research from step 1 and the reasons you deserve a pay rise in step 2) but be prepared to answer any questions your manager has, and don't expect them to give you an answer there and then.
Always remain calm and professional, even if your manager seems dismissive or gives you a flat 'no' at the meeting. Thank them for their time at the end of the meeting no matter what the outcome.
5. Put it in writing
After the meeting, send your manager an email thanking them for their time and reiterating your reasons for asking for a pay rise, as well as what pay increase you want. If they have already declined your request at the meeting, still send the email but ask for a pay review in six or 12 months and ask them to put in writing what changes you need to make to qualify for a pay rise in the future.
Of course, sometimes the biggest obstacle to getting what we want or deserve is our own mindset. It might be that you are afraid of being rejected or feel intimidated about making a case for a higher salary. Whatever the reason, you can be assured that the old saying 'if you don't ask you don't get' is true, so go ahead and ask for a pay rise following these steps. Whatever, the outcome you'll feel better for it in the long run.