How to ask for a pay riseAsking for a pay rise can be daunting, particularly if you’ve never done it before — and apparently, most of us haven’t.

According to YouGov data published last year, 53% of British adults have never asked for a pay rise. The data doesn’t include the reasons why, but I can take a guess:

Fear of failure, coupled with a nagging feeling that they don’t deserve it.

You absolutely deserve it, so read on. I’m about to share the secrets of how to ask for a pay rise and succeed in getting it. I’ll even advise you on what to say. But first…

Prepare yourself

Rather than going in with all guns blazing, start with some preparation.

You’re about to persuade the company to stump up extra cash, so they’ll need to justify their investment.

Here are a few questions to think about:

  • Has the company grown since you started?
  • How have you contributed to its growth?
  • What was your job or department like? Have you improved processes?
  • Have you taken on additional responsibilities beyond your role?
  • Are you a subject matter expert, the go-to person when others need information?
  • Do you train people? Run small projects?

Think about what you’ve achieved and write a list. It could be anything — sales, new ideas, processes you’ve streamlined, time or money you’ve saved.

Don’t forget soft skills

Remember, it’s not just about generating hard profit. These days, soft skills are a valuable, sought-after commodity.

For example, you may be the person who creates positivity within your team — the glue which holds everyone together.

Are you a great communicator? Do others come to you with their work problems? Is it you who writes those must-win proposals?

Once you’ve made your list, type it up and print it out.

Now, you may be thinking:

Surely my boss knows what I’ve achieved…

You’ve been working hard, delivering on budget and ahead of schedule. Won’t your boss have noticed?

Nope, I’m afraid not. Firstly, you may have undervalued your achievements. And secondly, some of us keep our heads down. We do a great job but don’t shout about it.

When it comes to getting a pay rise, blowing your own trumpet is expected. It’s part of the deal.

Timing is everything

Pick your moment wisely. After all, it’s not just how you ask for a pay rise, it’s also when.

When setting up a meeting with your boss, try to avoid Friday afternoons. If you can, go for midweek when everyone is in flow.

Here’s a good tip:

Don’t give a reason for the meeting. Instead, email something like this:

I’d like to speak to you in private about something important. Can we set up a 15-minute meeting to discuss it, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday?

When your boss receives that email, they’ll be worried. He or she will assume that there’s a problem of some kind. They probably think you’re going to resign.

Set against that, your pay rise request will be a relief.

Research how much you’re worth

You’ll need to come up with a realistic figure — a percentage rise on your current salary — so it’s time to do some research.

These days, it’s pretty easy to find out the average salary for your post. Reed has a handy average salary guide which you might find interesting.

While you’re considering that percentage rise, don’t forget to ask yourself this question:

Is my job title accurate?

Quite often, employees can start in one role, incrementally take on more responsibility and end up in another.

While you’re writing your list of achievements, look back to your early days in the job. How has it changed since then?

It could be that you’re seeking more than a pay rise. You’re also asking for a new job title.

What to say at the meeting

Remember, your boss thinks you’re about to drop a massive bombshell on their desk. It’s always good to start with some reassurance:

I love working here. I really enjoy my job and I hope my future career is with this company.

Now it’s time to big yourself up… and cut to the chase.

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve contributed to the business since I joined. I would like to ask you for a pay rise.

At this point, you can refer to your list of achievements.

I’ve written down all the things I’ve done to help the business grow. I know you’re really busy, and you may not be aware of some of them. I wanted to use this as a chance to demonstrate how I’ve contributed to the company’s success.

How to raise the job title issue (and get a promotion)

If your job role title isn’t accurate, it’s crucial to put this right because at some point, you’ll be applying for other jobs.

Here’s how to raise the issue with your boss.

When I started in my role, I was responsible for [A,B and C]. As I’ve progressed, I’ve taken on additional responsibilities — [D,E,F & G]. Please can you amend my job title to accurately reflect this.

And if you want to go further…

I’m thinking about my future within the company and I’d like to take on more responsibility. Are there any projects or visions for the organisation which I can become involved with?

Be clear about the money

Effectively, you’ve just proved how much you’re worth. At this point, your boss will be thinking about the money question, so be crystal clear.

Please could you consider me for a pay rise of [X per cent].

And remember, you’ve delivered serious food for thought. You’re not expecting an immediate answer so it’s good to acknowledge that.

I appreciate you’ll need some time to think it over. When would you think it’s realistic to expect a response?

As you leave the meeting, put your list on the boss’s desk.

You haven’t threatened to leave, you haven’t even mentioned it. However, I can guarantee that your resignation will be in the boss’s head.

If your pay rise isn’t given serious consideration, they know you’ll look elsewhere.

Good luck!

Do you need help with a CV which accurately reflects your achievements and lands the perfect job? Get in touch.

Charlotte Eve

Charlotte Eve is an award winning CV Writer, LinkedIn Writer and Interview Coach, helping people internationally to move confidently into new roles. With an HR background, passion for writing and determination to pursue a ‘useful’ career, Charlotte set up C K Futures to support people most at risk in the job market. She is recognised by recruitment agencies, career coaches and back-to-work organisations nationwide as a specialist in helping people affected by redundancy, those seeking career change, individuals with complicated careers, parent returners and those with career gaps. Charlotte has helped more than 20,000 people into new roles, delivers her Masterclass Course to employment organisations and is sought out by businesses for her outplacement services. Also mum to two teenagers, Charlotte supports charities to help young adults and is a Youth Mentor.