How to ask for a pay rise…the right way!

Everyone wants to get paid what they feel they deserve right? Of course!

However, before you put pen to paper to ask for a pay rise or, as I have witnessed some employees do, storm into their manager’s office and DEMAND a pay rise;  perhaps read the following suggestions and tips to increase your chances to get the pay rise you want.

Getting a pay rise can depend on several factors and is rarely black and white.  It can take  planning, preparation and a well evidenced pitch.

Familiarise yourself with the policy

Like anything you do as a professional, the way you go about requesting a pay rise, can be the reason you get an increase (or don’t) and  can also reflect your level of ‘professional’ maturity.

Most companies have policies or processes around pay increases, increments or salary reviews.  Ensure you take the time to read what these are? If for example, you have only been with the company for 3 months and the policy (and possibly even your contract) states that pay increases won’t be considered until after successful probation, or perhaps your company conducts salary reviews in December and it is only June, you may need to take this into account and be prepared to justify why you deserve an out of cycle pay increase.


To have the best chance of obtaining a pay rise, you MUST research and ensure you include solid evidence and examples as to why you deserve an increase in pay.  Managers and employers for that matter, need ‘business reasons’ to justify and increase.  Simply saying, ‘because I do a good job and put in long hours’ won’t cut it. Or another similar reason, ‘Bob is getting therefore I should also?’.  You get paid to do your job and employees are expected to go above and beyond in their role from time to time.  You need to show ‘what’ contributions you’ve made to justify an increase, comparing where you are now, from when you started (or from your last pay rise).

  • Look at market salary (however be aware that this should be used as a guide only as different markets command different salary)?
  • Consider if you have had to acquire additional skills to do your job? If you have acquired additional skills at what level are you performing? Mediocre, average, exceptional?
  • Are you asking for a realistic amount? Some positions may be governed by awards, market average etc and asking for a pay rise may by pushing you way out of the expected salary for that role.  Do you need to consider skills development to get you to a Manager from a Supervisor for example?
  • Do you have a qualification? And most importantly, are you using this qualification to the betterment of the role and your employer? I have seen people request pay rises because they are a biophysics degree however they are a Customer Service Representative.  Ensure you are demonstrating relevant skills or experience that your employer will find of value and use.  We are not saying your biophysics qualification isn’t valuable, however will it be something you can apply in the course of your Customer Service role? Probably not! So why would your employer pay you more for it?
  • Has your role changed dramatically that you are now implementing immense cost saving initiatives? What is the dollar value of these cost saving initiatives? Can this justify an pay increase for you?

Put it in writing

Approach your pay increase as you would any business proposal or pitch.  Consider the audience (your Manager) and draft a pitch focusing on the reasons you researched above and why you deserve a pay rise.  Ensure you present your pitch as clearly as possible.  You want to make it as easy as possible for your Manager to consider, and agree, to your pay increase.

Include your evidence and determine what salary you are asking for? Don’t request an increase and then leave this blank. If you have done your research, you should know what you’re worth.  Also, be ready to consider other perks or benefits to compensate a pay rise.  For example, would you be happy with training, an allowance of some kind, a gym membership…it doesn’t always have to be cold hard cash.

Be prepared to ask

Now, it is all well and good to be performing exceptionally well and whittling away at your computer, however, if you think that’s all you need to do to get a pay rise, think again! Especially if it’s an out of cycle pay increase.  You manager is just as busy as you are, and unless you’re talking about your standard pay increase period, managers rarely walk into your office or cubicle awarding you the pay rise you’ve been waiting for, along with a nice thank you card and box of chocolates.

Be prepared to ask! Once you have drafted your well crafted pitch…organise a meeting time.

Plan a time

Once you have completed your pitch, request a time to meet with your Manager. Give them considerable notice and ensure it is a suitable time for your Manager to discuss.  Don’t ambush your Manager at the water cooler and consider the timing.  Is it end of month and you’ve requested a meeting on the 1st of the following month?

Don’t give ultimatumsshow-me-the-money

When drafting your pitch, we would advise NOT to give an ultimatum.  We understand you are passionate about what you do and desire an increase to acknowledgement this however, your manager also has a manager to report to and they will need to justify any increases awarded.

Backing your manager into a corner by demanding a pay rise or expect a resignation, does not show good negotiation skills (a critical aptitude in any executive role) and also, is not realistic or showing consideration of the real business factors that may impact the award of a pay rise.

Have a well planned pitch, deliver it effectively and negotiate with your manager on suitable solution for all.

Be prepared to negotiate

Getting a ‘no’ can also be a good thing.  It should be viewed as a ‘cloud with silver lining’ because, although you are not getting the result you want immediately, when your Manager informs you that you won’t be getting a pay rise, they should also accompany that with reasons (if they don’t, ask for reasons). You can use these reasons as a guide to get to where you need to be, to be considered for a pay rise next time.

Be professional

Above all, be professional!  It can be an emotional time however, part of the planning and drafting of a proposal is to take the emotion out of it.  Whether you work for a commercial enterprise or a public service role, the company will always have targets, outcomes and business objectives.  They are a business!

If you do not end up with your most ideal scenario, crying, throwing tantrums, yelling or quitting, definitely won’t get you the results you want or demonstrate a professional attitude to obstacles. Take it on board, listen to what your manager has to say, appreciate your proposal was considered and work towards your goal in the future, with your manager’s support on how to get there.

Revaluate your role / employer

We mention this final tip as the last point to review, once all the above have been covered off.  If after this fact you still have not received your pay rise and you are slowly getting more and more disgruntled, we suggest you review your actual role and employer.

If you are a good employee, more than likely your employer will want to keep you and will do what they can to keep you.  However, if that pay rise you seek is still out of your grasp, perhaps you need to review your role? Have you reached maximum salary in your role? We covered this above briefly however, some roles won’t demand top dollar.  Even though we wish it could, for many reasons, it won’t; market salary, demand, skill level etc, will all be determining factors.  Also, what industry is your employer in? Do you work for a not-for-profit sector as opposed to the booming mining sector?

These factors will impact your success in getting the pay you want.  So be realistic! If you’re reaching for a 6 figure salary pay packet but work for a not-for-profit charity organisation, you may need to consider switching industries, look at  consulting or seek a boutique employer that offers specialised services that can demand and afford those types of salaries.

For more tips or assistance in writing a ‘Pay Increase Proposal’ contact Winning Edge Resume today.

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