How to ask for a pay rise

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For most people negotiating a pay rise can be a tricky conversation that you really don’t want to have. But maybe your company doesn't provide the opportunity for pay reviews. And just getting on with your work and not asking for a pay rise could leave you feeling undervalued and resentful.

Salary levels are normally determined by market forces. That means calculating the cost of replacing an employee and the contribution that person is making to the company’s performance.  At the end of the day, remember that if you don’t ask you don’t get.  The important thing is to approach the subject tactfully so that the outcome is positive, even if your boss says “no” to your request. 

How do you broach the subject of a pay rise?

When requesting a pay rise, the key is to be prepared.  You need to know in your mind why you think you should have a pay rise. Simply needing the extra money is not a valid reason.

Firstly, do some market research by learning what other companies in your sector are paying people in a similar role. You can do this by looking online at salary surveys, job advertisements or using our handy online salary checker

Create a case

Build a case to present to your employer. You should gather evidence of when and how you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty. You'll also want to compile a list of your accomplishments. This information will help you when moving up the career ladder. And when negotiating a pay rise, it will enable you to present your case to your boss in an organised manner. 

Do have a figure in mind

Decide on a figure that you have in mind before you discuss with your employer. They will almost certainly ask you what pay rise you're hoping for. Be sure to have one ready. Don’t pluck this figure out of the air; base it on evidence. 

It may also help to break down the pay rise into monthly amounts that don’t seem as large. For instance you could ask for an additional £100 per month, rather than £1200 per year.

Choose the right time

Don’t ambush your boss and put them on the spot or try to speak with your manager if they are busy. If you haven’t got an appraisal or performance review coming up, make an appointment to speak with your manager. Let them know ahead of time that you want to discuss pay so that they can be prepared. 

What to do if your pay rise request is denied

Firstly, if your employer says “no” to your request for a pay rise, they may well have a very good reason.  Don’t take it personally or be too disheartened. It’s not likely to be a judgement on your character.  There may not be the money to pay you more. Or,  perhaps your boss doesn’t feel like your current responsibilities warrant the additional salary.

Try to keep the door open for the future.  Ask what you need to do to secure a pay rise in the future and set a date to have another conversation.  Perhaps, approach the conversation again in six months’ time.

Asking about other opportunities such as further training and development and flexible working may also be a good idea.

There might be a limit to the value that your employer can place on your role.  In this case, you could discuss how you might progress towards a promotion to a higher level role, which would come with a higher salary. 

If you do decide to go for a job elsewhere, don’t burn your bridges. You’ll still want a reference and many industries are close-knit. Your attitude at the end of your time with one employer could be passed on by word of mouth. Having a good attitude can positively affect your career in the future.


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