How to Ask for a Pay Rise

Asking for a pay rise is always a bit of a daunting experience. A fair few people feel that talking about money is a bit of a dodgy topic anyway, but going up to the person you work for and asking for more money can feel wrong. The first step is getting over that hill and escaping the awkwardness.

Even if you have a good relationship with your boss, when discussing your pay - it's all business. You are being paid for your time and labour; if you feel that you should be making more for the all the time, effort, and energy you put in - you shouldn't feel uncomfortable when bringing it up.

  • Know Your Worth.

Before you just go over and ask for a pay rise, you need to do a bit of research. Look at similar jobs online, so you can get a good idea of what the average candidate in your position looks like. What you should know, what your everyday tasks should be, and the average pay bracket for someone in your role (and most importantly) with your skill set. This way it will be far easier to make a case for yourself on why you deserve a pay rise and not just why you want one.

  • Ask in Person.

Or in a way that lets your boss see your face when you ask, like a Zoom call. Even if it is far more tempting to just write out a nice email, send it over, and hope for the best - you are far more likely to get a raise if you ask in person. You might find the experience uncomfortable, but it's better to ask in person because in the same way that it feels easier to ask over email - it will be also easier for your boss to say no in an email. Having a face to put the request to might make it more difficult for them to decline, and they are also far more likely to respect you if you ask them up front instead of "hiding" behind an email.

  • Let Them Know Beforehand.

While you do want to ask them in person, you will need to give them a bit of a heads-up beforehand. If you jump your boss with the request, and they don't have any time to think about their options before you bring it up, they will more than likely say no instinctively. You don't want to write up an email to ask for a pay rise, but it would be an idea to write up an email asking for a meeting and let them know what it will be about. This way they have some time to think about it before you talk to them, and they will be far more willing to discuss it with you than give you a straight "No".

  • Timing is Key.

It will play a far greater role in your success than you might think. All the company's bigger issues will all trickle down and impact the final decision regarding your pay. Asking at the wrong time could ruin your chances in the same way that asking at the right time could guarantee you secure a pay rise. If you ask right after someone has left your business, your boss might be a bit on edge, already trying to fill in on a gap in the company and be reluctant to lose another employee so soon. They might be more willing to work with you to try and keep you with them. On the other hand, if you ask during a bad time, your annual review for example, it is likely a little too late. They will already have a set point in their mind that has been approved by higher ups, so you just won't get anywhere by asking.

Try and find a time that works well for both you and your boss. Again, asking during a time when your boss is stressed will bring you no benefits at all. You should aim to find a time when both you with have time to sit down and have time to really talk about your expectations while your boss has nothing else too prominent on their mind and are in a good mood.

  • Be Strategic.

If they say no the first time you ask, don't start asking whenever you have the chance. If you start asking frequently with little to no break between each request, your employer will start to view you as more annoying and unreasonable than someone trying to get as much from their job as they put in. So, you want to be more strategic and if you don't get it the first time around, wait a while before asking again (about 6 months to a year). This way, it doesn't feel like every time they talk to you, it's just about a pay rise.

  • Have an Idea of What You Want to Say.

Going to talk to your boss without an idea of what you want to say and only your ideal outcome of the interaction, then your interview will more than likely end in disaster. Make sure that you know what you want to say beforehand, have specific points about yourself ready that will help your case: the value you bring to the business and how you feel that you're worth more than what you are currently being given.

Highlight what you have done to help support the business and anything that you plan to do in the future. It will remind your employer what you've done for them, how useful you are as an asset to them, and may remind them of points they may not have remembered had you not brought them up. Just try not to get too repetitive with your points, or it will look like you've run out of points and just trying to come up with something.

  • Remember Delivery.

Whether you're nervous or not, delivery is still something you will need to think about before you go in. If you come across as hesitant, and you have a particularly ruthless boss, they may use that hesitancy to take advantage of you and say no. Come across over-confident and arrogant, then you might leave a bad impression and annoy them to the point that they say no. You need to sound sure of yourself, but not so much that you sound like you are just making empty claims about yourself.

One thing that you will want to avoid when asking for a pay rise is filling silences or pauses. If you've asked a question or are waiting for your boss to think of a response, don't feel the need to jump in. Wait patiently for them to respond because trying to fill the silence will just lead to meaningless rambling that will make you look more unprofessional than anything.

  • Know When to Quit.

As nice as it would be to get the raise, you won't get it every time. While you may have to fight your corner to a degree, you need to know when enough is enough. If your boss is adamant that you will not be getting a raise, drop it for the moment. It may be something that is completely out of their control which is preventing you from getting the raise. You should be ready to negotiate with your boss about other benefits instead of more pay. You could ask for a few days more holiday, or more on your pension scheme - just be prepared to be told no.

  • Don't Act Like You're Entitled to It.

After putting your time, effort, and energy into your job - it's completely normal to feel entitled to a pay rise, but acting that way will give you no benefits at all. Your employer will more likely be put off by it, so it is better to be just a little humbler in your approach and bring forward relevant points regarding what you have done that has earned you a pay rise. Talk about all your responsibilities, the progress, and achievements you have made within the company. Do not focus on the time you have spent within the business. The time argument is weak and won't get you what you want, you are paid for your labour, not how long you have been with the company.

  • Don't Compare Yourself to Your Co-workers.

You may be paid a little less than a co-worker with the same role as you for seemingly no reason, but there will always be little bits behind the scenes that you won't know about (that are also not entitled to know). There are several elements that play into how much you get paid. This goes for the co-worker you are comparing yourself too. They are likely to have a completely different skill set, background, experience, education, or results to you. They may also take on a few extra responsibilities within the business that you don't know about. It's a grey area when you try to compare yourself to everyone around you.

It would be best if you just avoided comparing yourself to your co-workers altogether, especially when you are comparing performance. While there is the issue of not knowing all the details of why your co-worker is paid that amount, putting someone else down to make yourself look better is just a generally horrible thing to do, is more than likely just going to backfire. It's more likely to hurt your reputation & credibility with your employer than get you that pay rise.

  • Don't Get Personal.

You're in a work environment, and it's okay to bring up your life outside of work on occasion, but when it comes to your pay and the business - your personal life really isn't all that important to an employer. They might like you and don't mind chatting about personal lives throughout the day, but you need to remember, it is a business. They will always do whatever is best for their business. Even if they want to help you and a pay rise would do that, if it doesn't work for the business, then it's not really an option for them. A pay rise is a work matter, and you shouldn't think that your personal life has a larger impact on it. It doesn't for your employer.

  • Not Offering an Ultimatum.

Don't threaten to quit if you don't get the pay rise, even if you really mean it. They may just decide that you're not worth the trouble and would rather go through the process of finding a replacement then dealing with you. There's also the issue of - you don't know what your boss is dealing with. If their hands are tied by other issues, reaching their budget for example, you've now placed them in an impossible situation. So, be opened to negotiate with your boss about things beside money to make up for it, they will likely be very content with giving you a few extra benefits in place of a pay rise.

  • Don't Take It Personally.

If they say no to a raise, don't let it get to you. As said before, there could be multiple reasons as to why you can't have one now, and just because they have said no this time doesn't mean you won't get one in the future. So, just wait a little while before asking again.

Thank you for reading our post! We hope that you have found these pointers helpful and will be able to use them in the future. Feel free to check out the rest of our blog and see if there is anything else that you find interesting. We cover a variety of different topics, so there should be something there for everyone.

Neil has a proven history within Science & Technology recruitment and has been a recruiter and then business manager for over ten years.

In 2017, Neil formed The Recruitment Geeks because he'd always felt that there was a better way to operate a recruitment company; he firmly believes that focusing on a client's needs is not mutually exclusive with providing a good candidate experience.

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