How to ask for a pay increase

Looking for a decent pay increase and want to maximise your chances? Here's a few hints.

Asking for a pay rise is never easy and most of us get very nervous before we do so. That nervousness can often lead to us making an unclear or confrontational request, and leaving your manager either unsure of what you are asking for or feeling threatened by your demands.

I’ve successfully negotiated pay and rate increases many times - here’s the inside story on how to increase the chances of receiving a pay increase.Guy Ellis | Pay increase blog

1.     Gather your information. 

Gathering your information requires you to;
-    Demonstrate your value. You can achieve this by documenting your achievements and contributions to the company e.g. performance objectives. Wherever possible, show how you have contributed to the success of the organisation
-    Understand your organisations rules, processes and behaviours. Be aware that these may be contradictory e.g. many profit driven organisations have rules saying that a pay increase is not guaranteed, but continue to give increases every year to all staff. Organisations may only give increases at certain times of the year, or be restricted to a maximum percentage, or have salary ranges. Remember, your manager is bound by these rules and behaviours.
-    Research salaries for similar roles, both internally and externally. This can be quite difficult as no two jobs are exactly alike but you can look at advertised jobs or websites such as Glassdoor. Remember, looking at advertised salaries for competitors job adverts can be misleading as most companies have to pay a ‘risk’ premium to attract someone to them – my rule of thumb is usually between 10 and 20% more than their internal average for the role, depending upon the seniority of the job.   
-    Consider your negotiation points. If you believe that you should have a 10% increase, do you start with asking for 12%. Would you accept 8% if it was offered? Or less working hours? Or greater responsibilities? Or more training at a lower rate? Or flexible hours? Are you prepared to delay the increase to show your improved worth? 

2.    Consider your request from your managers perspective.

Never forget that your manager has a manager, even if it’s the Board! And there are very few organisations that allow managers to sign off pay increases for direct staff members without a second (or more) approval. If you’re going to get your manager to go through the process of getting you a pay increase, then;
-    Consider the constraints that they are working under. Your research into your organisation’s rules will help you understand what is and isn’t possible. If pay increases are granted only once a year, prepare your case well in advance of the compensation cycle. 
-    Recognise the concept of ‘personal credibility’. We all have it – it’s the value that we develop as others learn to trust our values and judgment. If your manager is recommending an out of cycle or larger than average pay increase for you, they have to draw upon their own personal credibility to get approval from their manager. So make it as easy as possible for them.
-    Give something in return. This could be increased (or maintained high) levels of productivity, or extra responsibilities. 
-    Recognise your managers pain points. Are they working long hours? Or have too many ‘admin’ tasks to do? What can you do to help them and make their job easier? This can be a great way to help your manager, learn new skills, and become more valuable to the organisation. 
-    Schedule your meeting at a time when they are not too busy and come prepared with your research. Ensure that your manager knows that this is the topic for the meeting so  that they can come prepared as well. 

3.    Present your case. 

During the meeting, present your case for a pay increase, highlighting your achievements and how they have contributed to the success of the company. Be confident and respectful, and be prepared to negotiate.

Remember, be clear in your request but recognise that being confrontational is not productive. While few managers like hiring new staff, if you threaten to leave, even if you don’t say so out loud, then this maybe a more palatable option for them. You want your manager to fight for your pay raise because it is right for the organisation and because it will make their job easier. 

Whatever the outcome of your meeting , thank your manager for their time. If the outcome is not what you wanted, then don’t react immediately but take time to consider your options. Words spoken in frustration or anger very rarely help your cause or build your relationship with your manager. 


While there is no guarantee that taking these steps will result in a pay increase, you will significantly increase your chances of doing so.  Getting a pay increase often takes time and effort but it is worth it.

Take control of your career.

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