How to get a pay rise

4 Minute Read | Author: Hannah Tattersall

Asking for a salary increase isn’t about confronting your boss. Here’s how to keep the conversation (and yourself) calm and collected.

No matter what we call it – dough, bucks, dollars or bread – most of us think about money constantly. Yet when it comes to asking for more of the stuff, many of us baulk in fear.

If you’re procrastinating, consider this: research by has found that avoiding asking for a pay rise can cost employees as much as $1 million over the course of their career.

When you put it that way, isn’t it time you asked for a raise?

New York-based career coach Susie Moore has coached hundreds of people in how to ask for better compensation. A survey of her clients found that 71 per cent of people feel due for a pay increase but 82 per cent don’t know how to ask for one  – or don’t feel confident in having the discussion.

Moore says that contrary to popular belief, most bosses don’t hand out pay rises like staplers, no matter how good someone may be at their job. Her mantra is, don’t ask and you won’t get.

“Don’t assume that your boss knows what you want until you communicate it to him or her,” she says. “Good employees are hard and time-consuming to find and expensive to replace. Like any relationship, when both parties are satisfied it’s a win-win situation.”


Get the timing right

When it comes to asking for a pay rise, it’s important to get the timing right. It’s worth finding out the standard procedure for salary reviews at your company. Is your company more open to discussion after a full year of employment, for example, or is end of financial year the best time? Many companies stress that performance reviews are not the time to ask for a pay rise, but if you have a good performance review and your boss has your achievements front of mind, shortly afterwards might be a good time to approach him or her about a salary increase.


Find out what you’re worth

According to recruitment agency Hudson, when asking for more money employees should take into account the current state of the market and the company’s financial health. “The current job market for your sector, your performance, your skill set, and how easy or difficult it would be to replace you, all play a role in how likely your employer will be to award you an increase,” Hudson offers on its website.

It’s also worth knowing your worth. Many recruiters publish salary guides annually which can be used to see what others in your position are earning, or you can use a salary calculator like this one from Hudson to work out the going rate of pay in your industry.


Make your case in writing

Just as making a written offer on a house is taken more seriously by the vendor than a verbal offer, when asking for a pay rise, a good strategy is often to pitch your argument on paper. List your responsibilities, strengths and achievements over the year, and any ways you’ve saved costs, helped generate revenue or done something that would be considered excellent.

“Mention any shortfall in your salary compared to the industry average, as well as any awards or commendations, then outline your proposed increase,” Hudson says, adding it’s best to approach your boss for a salary review meeting, then email your pitch document before the meeting so the awkward part of asking for a raise can be addressed upfront.


Listen carefully and be willing to compromise

Moore says many people ruin their opportunity for a pay rise by approaching their boss with hostility and demanding more money as if it’s their right. “Come from a place of optimism and loyalty,” she says. “You want to stay in your role, you love your company, you would just like to discuss salary as it has come to your attention that the market rate for your role is higher than what you are receiving and you are proud of your performance in your role.”

If you are a top performer, chances are your boss will want to keep you. And if a pay rise isn’t possible right now, remember there are other benefits to ask for, aside from cash incentives, that can make you feel valued as an employee.

According to the latest Randstad employer brand research, work-life balance has overtaken salary and benefits as the most important factor for candidates when choosing an employer. Why not ask to work a day from home one day a week, or suggest your workplace pay for a course that interests you and that will benefit the company in the long term?

Says Moore: “There are a lot of opportunities that can be uncovered once you master the art of asking for more.”