HOW TO ASK FOR A SALARY INCREASE
You’ve accomplished a lot.
Your skills have improved, your performance has soared, your responsibilities have expanded — and your value has increased.
You want to be paid accordingly.
Is it time to ask for a pay rise?
For some, it’s easy to march into a manager’s office and politely ask for a salary increase, but for most of us, it’s downright terrifying.
How do I ask?
Should I ask?
The truth is, if you don’t ask for a pay rise you’ll never get one — but when it comes to speaking up, there are some important steps you should take in making sure you get the salary you want and deserve.
It’s about asking for the right money in exchange for the value you provide to your employer — at the right time.
Here’s how you do it:
CHOOSE YOUR TIMING
The unfortunate truth is that your performance is just one of the factors influencing a pay increase. Just because you’re killin’ it — doesn’t mean there’s extra cash there waiting to be transferred to your pay packet.
Sometimes, it really comes down to the economic environment, the company’s financial performance, the time of year — and whether there’s a process for salary reviews even in place. Before you start the conversation, find out where your company stands, financially. Asking for a pay rise following a dismal full year result is only going to make you look out-of-touch.
Be sensible about whether or not it’s good timing — be mindful that if there’s a lot of cost-cutting and redundancies going on, there’s a slim chance you’ll get the nod. But if the team’s celebrating growth, big profit margins and through-the-roof sales figures, then get on in there, put your hand up and say, “yes please, me too!”
Do some research into the organisation’s performance and pay review process. Some companies do this annually or bi-annually. If so, wait until then — unless, for example, you’ve taken on a significant amount of extra responsibility and are being underpaid as a result.
Just before the start of a new financial year is often a good time to ask for a salary increase, because managers are usually crunching the numbers and setting out their next budget. They might just have bandwidth for bonuses and pay rises.
How long have you been with the organisation? It’s not usually commonplace to ask for an increase within your first 12 months, so hold off until after this anniversary before you start renegotiating. And note that simply reaching this milestone doesn’t automatically qualify you for a raise. It’s about performance — not length of service.
INITIATE THE CONVERSATION
“I’ve been considering my role and responsibilities and how they might be reflected in my pay. I’d like to discuss this with you at a time that suits you.”
Yep, it’s time to reach out, set up a meeting with your manager (or the most suitable decision-maker) to discuss your salary expectations.
Email or approach them in person — but don’t put them on the spot. Tell them what you want to discuss with them and allow some time for them to prepare before you meet up. Allow time for you to prepare, too.
If you haven’t heard back after a few days, follow up.
It might also be an idea to email your pitch through a few days beforehand so they have some time to consider your proposal.
Asking for a salary increase is really about asking your employer to move away from the negotiated agreement and give you something that is more aligned with the value you offer. It’s about getting extra payment — more than average — so make sure you haven’t just done the minimum amount of work required.
Ask yourself the big question before your boss does:
What extra value am I offering to the organisation to justify this pay increase?
Also, consider the following:
Am I a high performer?
Am I committed to excellence?
When was your last pay increase? How long have you been with the company? How do your skills and experience stack up? Have you got the credibility to move up into the next salary bracket? Have you exceeded your KPIs?
If you believe you’re being underpaid in relation to the market average for that role, make sure you’ve got the figures to back you up.
Do the research and gather the information — if you can tick all the right boxes, it’s time to hone your pitch and prepare yourself for your big moment.
Let’s face it. The majority of bosses are busy, stressed and focused on their own performance. So while they might value your input, there’s probably a lot of accomplishments they have forgotten or don’t know about.
This is why you need to tell them and show them how you’re performing above and beyond.
It’s a good idea to plan a strong case for why you deserve a salary increase — and put it in writing. Give it to your manager before or during your meeting so the evidence is right there, in black and white.
Highlight your achievements in the time you’ve held the position (and since your last pay rise). List big projects and responsibilities you’ve taken on, on top of the ones already outlined in your job description.
Have you had to manage more colleagues? Undertaken more study, training or professional development? Have you taken on extra workload? Did you lead a particularly successful project, bring in a significant amount of business or make some customers really happy?
Dig through your ‘brag book’ and showcase any acknowledgements from customers or colleagues of a job well done — it could be thank you letters, award nominations or any other pat on the back.
Remember, it’s important to highlight what you’ve already done, but it’s also crucial to acknowledge what you plan to do in the future, too.
You’ve timed your request well, your boss has agreed to meet, you’ve got your business case mapped out and your eye on the prize.
Before you head into the meeting room, take a minute to breathe deeply, remind yourself you’re worthy of their investment and believe that you’ve got this. Because you do.
Now it’s time to talk.
If you were able to email your pitch through ahead of time, the hard part is already done.
There’s a good chance your Manager will ask you to talk these points through again, so do it with confidence. Remember to reassert your commitment to the job and show you’re up for more challenges. Every point you make should reiterate the value you provide and why it justifies that raise.
You should also expect to be targeted with some hard-hitting questions:
Why do you think you deserve a salary increase?
What can you continue to offer us in the future?
And the million dollar question: “How much money do you want?”
There are so many factors that determine how much you ask for, such as the financial state of the company, what your current salary is or how well you’ve performed. But generally, an acceptable range for a salary increased based on performance is between 1% and 5%. Just do your research, use your common sense and decide on a number, beforehand.
It may take some time for the powers that be to assess your request, negotiate a figure and get back to you with a response — or you might get a yes or no, straight up.
If the answer is yes, show gratitude and reassert your commitment to the role.
If you don’t get the response you hoped, be gracious. Rejection is hard to cop — but don’t become emotional or discouraged.
Consider the feedback or explanation and ask more questions.
What could I do differently? How can I improve my performance? What would it take for me to earn an increase in the future? When would be an appropriate time to discuss this again?
If your employer is unable to come to the table with an offer of additional pay, you could try to negotiate remuneration that isn’t necessarily a dollar figure — things like more flexibility, or more training.
- Make threats, like, “I’ll quit if I don’t get the raise I ask for”. If you do, and still don’t get a salary increase, do you really want to have to follow through?
- Compare or make reference to your colleague’s salary. Such a big no-no. You should never know or talk about another employee’s pay packet. This conversation is about your performance and the value you bring to the organisation.
- Throw a colleague under the bus. Don’t point out someone else’s poor performance or failings in order to make yourself look good.
- Complain, whinge or make negative remarks. Don’t blame or point the finger. Instead, focus on the good stuff — your strengths, accomplishments and hard work.
- Use your personal financial situation as a way of justifying more money. Although a mortgage, a child or unemployed partner can trigger financial stress and be a really valid reason for wanting or needing a salary increase, you must not hang your hat on factors that are unrelated to your role.
Do you think it’s time to ask for a salary increase? What’s holding you back? Share with us in the comments below!