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How To Ask For A Pay Raise in 4 Simple Ways



According to a survey by Bankrate, 30% of employees consider better pay as over other benefits when seeking employment opportunities.

I’ve negotiated salaries and contract rates over a thousand times for candidates. There is one rule that always ran true…

Don’t ask, don’t get. 

Requesting a raise doesn’t guarantee one. But not asking for a raise usually guarantees you won’t.

Let’s face it – unless you’re in your dream job filled with personal fulfilment, passion and the feel-good factor – most of us work for the money. Follow these proven tips on how to negotiate a pay rise and your chances will be maximised and you’ll have more confidence in negotiations.

Here are four important steps on how to ask for a salary increase, and three gracious and career-boosting ways to deal with rejection.

Tip #1: Know Your value

Once you understand your role’s market value, taking into account the demand and supply of your specialist skills – you have a powerful, data-driven foundation to start the conversation.

Getting a sense of the market value for your role can be done using online tools and salary calculators such as Greythorn’s, Hudson’s and Robert Half’s. However, bear in mind these don’t always paint a full picture as they may not fully take into account your specialist skills, domain knowledge and experience levels.
If you engage with recruiters on specific roles, you can probe them for general market information (read our blog on “negotiating salary” for some great tips). But be careful as they will be expecting this discussion to be based on your genuine interest in their specific role, not a market testing exercise for you.

Tip #2: Time It

The optimal time to approach your boss for a raise is when you’ve contributed strongly to the value of the company – completing a big project, solving a problem, bringing in new clients or taking on new responsibilities.

The answer to “how to ask your boss for a pay rise” is critically dependent on the time and situation. Demonstrate your knowledge of where the company is at financially, and when formal pay negotiations occur. Avoid periods of cost-cutting or down-sizing, and choose periods of profitability and growth. Have you recently lost major accounts or has your company recently downgraded their market advice and outlook for shareholders?

If you have regular performance reviews raise the subject proactively and use review results as tangible ways of demonstrating your increasing value and contribution. Record these discussions, be proactive, but also patient.

In most cases salary budgets are set before final, annual performance reviews, so if your appraisal is in October, ask for the raise in August. This allows more time in the budget process and a recent and relevant history of why you deserve a raise.

I’ve seen many cases where deserving people asked for a raise unsuccessfully simply because they asked after budgets were set.

Tip #3: Know Your Audience

Engage with your boss in their preferred style – present your request in a manner that works for them.

You should know how your boss best receives information.  Do they prefer a quick synopsis, or are they a details person? Are they data-driven or do they value your contribution to corporate culture? Is an aggressive sales pitch the way to get your boss’ attention or would they prefer an engaging conversation? If you’re asking for a raise you should have a strategy for handling the discussion. Determine their personality type and plan your strategy and approach from there.

What NOT to Say When Asking for A Raise

  • “I really need the money.”
  • “I deserve a raise more than [colleague’s name].”
  • “I’ve been here for [a specific period of time].”
  • “I’m underpaid compared to others in my field.”
  • “If I don’t get a raise, I might quit.”
  • “I haven’t received a raise in X years.”
  • “I need a raise because my personal expenses have increased.”

Tip #4: Sell, Don’t Beg

Your aim is to convince your boss that you are worth paying more, not that that you need the money.

A raise is given because of the value you bring to the company. A raise is not given because you’re in debt, extending your home or having another child. Your personal finances should never be part of the discussion.

Sell your skills and abilities and highlight what worth you bring to your employer.

Go into the conversation armed with an arsenal of examples of how you’ve contributed to the company and why you are worth more.

Hardball negotiation points include the cost to hire your replacement (including their learning curve) and how much competitors value you. Just be careful when using these ploys. Managers may resent being “threatened” that you will leave if you don’t get a raise. Of course, this should be your message, however, try to insinuate it more than blatantly blurt it out.

What To Do If Your Pay Rise is Turned Down

If your request for a raise is denied; it’s not all over. There are follow-up actions you should take if you are told the raise isn’t happening this time. These will set you up better for a future raise and show your boss your tenacity, determination and professionalism.

Tip #1: Ask what it would take

Ask your boss to specify what is required for you to get a pay rise.

Smile, keep eye contact and tell your boss that you understand it’s not possible right now, but you’d like to know what would make it possible. Ask when a better time would be if the timing was cited as the reason. Ask about performance indicators or extra duties that will ensure you’re on track for a raise next time.

Tip #2: Compromise

Performance-based bonus requests and setting a higher number for the raise request give you room to negotiate.

You will not always get the first amount you ask for and may have to compromise and negotiate down. If you expect your boss to counter-offer, you may want to build this into your initial request and start by asking for more than you expect to get. Alternatively, you may ask for a performance-based bonus instead of a raise, which reduces the employer’s risk of not seeing the value you promise.

Tip #3: Raise Your Job Title

Have a viable new job title in mind and ask only after a raise has been declined – it could be an easy compromise.

If you are a valued contributor performing above your pay grade and haven’t landed a raise, ask for a job title upgrade. The title should reflect the work you do and be a recognised step-up. Changing your title elevates your position in the company and increases your worth.

Job titles increase your market value, and in addition, the company will be obliged to bring you into that pay-range, or market rate equivalent, when the next compensation review rolls around.

As an aside, if you want to make a big change, follow your passions, gain inner fulfilment and wake up feeling excited about going to work, consider engaging an IT Career Coach. This will give you career tools and a strategy and roadmap to achieve your dreams.

Follow these tips and use your personal intuition to approach and manage raise requests – every situation is different.  Consider Career Coaching for difficult situations and developing pay negotiations as a core skill for the rest of your career.

Good Luck!

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