Top 10 Tips to Ask for a Pay Rise

Want to be recognised for the contribution you made at work last year? You need to ask for a Pay Rise. Here's our top tips for making your case. By Ros Toynbee

1. Check the intranet for relevant company policies and procedures. When are pay-rises given? Is there a maximum raise you can be eligible for (or a bands system to adhere to), how are you going to be evaluated?
2. Build a business case for your raise. Write down all the things you've achieved for your team or department. Where have you added greatest value? Think money earned, savings created, efficiencies made, relationships with clients/suppliers improved. If you can quantify it in pounds and pence, or expressed as percentage increases (or decreases) so much the better. Figures give you evidence and credibility. It's not enough to say 'I haven't had a pay-rise in 2 years'. Have evidence printed off which you can point to e.g. KPI figures, thank you emails from clients. Write this up into a bullet-pointed memo for your manager.
3. Research what you can achieve and pick a reasonable figure. Use a salary checker website and see if you can get a sense of what you are worth in the market place. Speak to peers in other companies about what they earn. But be aware of your sector and the company's situation too. Be seen to value yourself, but don't be greedy. Women, whatever you think you should ask for, double the increase. Chances are you're valuing yourself way too low. You want your boss to sit up when you make your request! If he agrees too quickly, you undersold yourself.
4. Consider likely objections. What are your boss' likely push-backs? Have you considered how you will respond? Preparation is key, and will ensure you stay assertive even if your knees are trembling under the table.
5. Pick the right time to speak to your boss and request a meeting. Good 'right times' are straight after you've won that big account, wowed that client, got a huge pat on the back from your boss' boss and you're visible for all the right reasons. Be clear about the purpose of your meeting, and have it behind closed doors - not over coffee. Do you really want anyone else to overhear this most private of conversations?
6. Take control of the meeting. Set out your agenda - and work through it. Start by reiterating your purpose which is that you'd like to discuss the value you have added to this company, and you want a salary increase to reflect your new responsibilities/impact. Pass them your memo and work through the points you have made. Seek agreement from your boss that this is a fair reflection of what you have achieved. State what you would like as an increase. Thenů
7. Give your boss time to consider. Let your boss know that you appreciate he needs time to go through this and perhaps seek permission from his boss or the budget holder. Agree a date to come back and discuss the outcome. It is unfair to expect him to give you an answer on the spot.
8. Don't take a 'no' at face value, or be defeated by it. If it's a no, ask why it was a 'no'. Perhaps your timing doesn't follow company procedure, perhaps there's a pay freeze, or some other legitimate reason. Sometimes however the reason is personal. Be prepared to ask the question 'what would make it a 'yes' next time?' and be humble enough to accept that Gary did sell more than you or that Kate worked 70 hour weeks on that project but you didn't show the same commitment (or whatever the perceived lack is). At the same time, if there is evidence that your colleagues have achieved pay rises under similar circumstances you shouldn't back down. Close by asking when it would be acceptable to re-evaluate the situation: 3 months? 6 months from now?
9. Follow up. Put your review date in Outlook and make sure you do have that review meeting the 3 or 6 months later. Do what your boss suggested. Re-prepare your case and ask again. Have a fall back position you can live with should you need it e.g. the change in job title. While it's easy to say 'no' the first time, it gets progressively more embarrassing for your boss to say 'no' by the second or third time, so the odds are in your favour (provided you delivered of course).
10. If you still don't get that rise, look outside. One of the greatest boosts to your confidence can be that day you put your CV in front of a recruitment agent who tells you you're worth 25% more than what you thought you were - and that your skills are currently in demand.

If you have an Appraisal coming up, or would like to ask for a pay-rise, contact us for coaching on how to make the best possible case on 07861 714529 or email us. Information on our Coaching for Professionals programme is available here.