The Right Way to Ask for a Pay Rise


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September is often promotions round month. It can also be pay rise month and the time when decision makers start thinking about the end of year bonuses.

If that’s the case in your company, or post-holiday you’re thinking of giving your career a boost, here are some top tips for making sure you get paid what you deserve.

Get your head straight first

Mindset is everything when you’re making a case for a pay rise. This is not a conversation to have on impulse, when you’re feeling angry or emotional, or without having first done your homework. You may have heard on the grapevine that a colleague has been showered in bonuses, but it’s pointless marching into your boss’s office wagging a finger and screeching about unfair bias. Request a meeting to discuss your role.

Your state of mind will directly influence how you come across during the meeting. If you are feeling flustered, uncomfortable or distracted you will be less likely to convey your most professional, authoritative self than if you are feeling calm, confident and well-prepared.

Get yourself into a positive state of mind by reminding yourself of the skills and qualities that got you to where you are today. To over-ride self-limiting beliefs, repeat phrases to yourself like ‘I’ve reached this position based on dedication, determination and great work. My experience is evolving and I deserve to be recognized for my unique expertise”.

Define your worth

Getting a pay rise is all about demonstrating your value to the company. You deserve a pay rise for the value you’ve added, not for how hard you’ve worked and they certainly won’t be increasing your income purely out of the kindness of their heart! So being credible, measured and prepared is what will yield results, not talking about how you’ve worked until midnight for the past three weeks.

When it comes to demonstrating your value the first thing you need to have at your finger tips is evidence. State your case and be very clear about your role, the contribution you make to the bottom line and your monetary worth. “This is what I do, this is what the market rate is, this is therefore the salary I would like to be earning”. In this case, your number one tool are the results you’ve delivered and their impact on your organization. If you’ve saved the company money, brought in new business or contacts, trained and retained excellent people or developed a valuable new offering, this will boost your case, so make sure you detail these contributions.

As well as evidence of success, think about what differentiates you from your colleagues. Consider which elements of your job you do particularly well and aspects of your role where you’ve developed subject matter expertise. Consider business qualifications, career history, knowledge acquired and how you’ve brought your own personal perspective to a task. Cite any awards you’ve helped bring in and any initiatives you’ve been involved in that have contributed to a positive company culture.

Raise your profile

When it comes to career progression, those who demonstrate expertise will be far more likely to receive recognition and reward than those who expect their work to speak for itself. That said, the last thing you want to do is come across as arrogant or superior. Sharing team successes publicly, being generous with information and insights, giving credit to others and asking colleagues to recommend you is a far more elegant way of doing your own PR than cornering the MD at a drinks do.

Speak confidently

As well as preparing what you’re going to say, getting a positive response will also be about how you come across. Start by stating what you want and then the reasons. Jot down in advance the points you’d like to make so that you’re clear and concise rather than searching for words. Prepare no more than three reasons why and don’t over-elaborate – the more extrapolations you add, the more you dilute your point.

The words you choose will go a long way to be convincing. Be rational, but back up your facts with energy and enthusiasm for what you plan to bring to your role in the future. Make sure your non-verbal communication is confident, look them in the eye and adopt an open posture, rather than closed and hunched.

If you don’t get the answer you want, keep your cool and thank your boss for his or her time. If a pay rise isn’t on the cards this time, ask them to clarify what you need to do to develop your worth. If your boss sees you as ambitious they might consider you first next time.

For more advice on fulfilling your potential at work, check out Leading with Gravitas or come to our next Gravitas Masterclass.



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