asking for a pay increase is rarely easy.

Corporate work colleagues negotiating for a salary increase
Corporate work colleagues negotiating for a salary increase

Although some people find it less complicated, especially if they have the evidence to back themselves up, others might need extra help.

At the start of the New Year, now could be an excellent time to take stock of what you're worth in the market and prepare to have the salary conversation.

To increase your chances of success, follow these eight easy steps to understand the Do's and Don'ts of asking for a pay rise.

1. when is it appropriate to ask for a pay rise? 

Timing is the key here, and the golden rules around this are:

  • Ask for a pay rise on or before an anniversary of employment service OR at the end of the financial year/calendar year OR before the next budget sign-off.
  • Ask when you can justify your duties and responsibilities in your role have expanded OR if you can demonstrate a greater rate of efficiency OR an increase in revenue generation.
  • Ask when company goals and GP targets have been achieved. Read the press, annual company reports etc., to gain insights here.

2. what should you consider before asking for a pay rise? 

Before you ask for a pay rise, you need to consider:

  • How much you have achieved in your role, and provide examples/proof of these achievements.
  • If your role has expanded with more duties and responsibilities, this will help with your request.
  • If you can demonstrate a greater rate of efficiency.
  • If you can demonstrate an increase in revenue generation and performance.
  • Suppose you are being underpaid for your role or level of experience. Conduct some market research to determine this.
  • If you deserve a pay rise, and why.

It would help if you delivered your justification in a confident and business-like manner. Don't let your emotions drive your behaviour – it just gets messy, and more than likely, you will not end up with the outcome you were hoping for.  

3. how should one best convince their employer they're worthy of a pay rise? 

You need to be able to demonstrate the facts with tangible information and proof of your achievements.

For example, provide copies of the positive client, peer and management emails, reports, results and achievements. Show proof of what your role is valued at in the market with information backed by reputable organisations/industry associations. This will add a lot of weight to your request.

Remember, if you conduct yourself in a business-like fashion by personifying the values and behaviour of the company, you increase your chances of a pay rise.


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An illustration of two people talking.
An illustration of two people talking.

4. what are the top tips for negotiating a pay rise?

  • Collect all your factual information, supporting documentation, past performance appraisals etc. (as mentioned above). Be well prepared with information that demonstrates your abilities and value to the organisation.
  • Prepare your thoughts before the negotiation. Visualise how you would like the conversation to flow with your boss. Write a script if you have to. Please keep it simple and use clear language which articulates your points.
  • Do your research to find out how much you, your position and your experience level are worth in the market. Knowing this can add much weight to your request as it shows you have done your research and that your request is fair and reasonable.
  • Speak to a recruitment consultant that specialises in your field. Search for the most appropriate salary surveys which show the salary range for your position and years of experience; speak to colleagues, friends and family, mainly if they work in your field, to find out how much they think is fair for your salary. 
  • Once you feel ready, ask for 15-30 minutes in your boss' diary for a chat.
  • Don't talk too much in the meeting. Be confident and keep to the facts. Use clear and concise language to ensure you get your point across.
  • Use positive, active language like, "I am committed to the future of this organisation"... "I believe as a business we are creating a successful and valuable culture/team",…." I believe that my results show that I am deserving of a pay rise."
  • Don't get emotional. Keep to the facts.

5. why do people get turned down for a pay rise?

They don't follow the guide mentioned above, and emotion often gets in the way of a positive, business-like discussion.

Common mistakes also include:

  • You are making unjustified requests without supporting documentation or testimonials that could legitimise your increased value and worth to the business.
  • You are making unreasonable requests. Do your research to ensure that what you ask for is reasonable compared to market value.
  • You are becoming aggressive in your tone of voice.
  • Offering a request such as, "I deserve a pay rise, and if I don't get one, I am going to look elsewhere." This is the biggest and most common mistake made by employees. There is no benefit in asking for a pay rise in this manner.

6. how common are pay rises linked to performance reviews? is this fair? 

They are technically two separate discussions that are intrinsically linked. In a performance review, an employer discusses the effectiveness/value-add of the employee in the role, their achievements, training and career development opportunities and future goals.

A pay rise is often linked to the performance review because the employee must usually exceed the expectations associated with the role that they are employed for to receive a pay rise. Employees must ask themselves, "Do I deserve a pay rise and why?"

7. should you leave a job if you don't get a pay rise? 

This is a case-by-case scenario. If you feel that your current employer can't meet your career aspirations or have lived up to their promises, or you have not been rewarded with a pay rise when you believe you have earned it, then yes, it's time to find another career opportunity.

However, find that next career move before you resign. Remember to exit the business professionally with your reputation intact. The adage is very true - don't burn your bridges.

8. how can a recruitment consultant assist you in getting a pay rise? 

A recruitment consultant, particularly one that specialises in your expertise, can help you through the process of receiving a pay rise.

Firstly, providing you with the salary range, you should expect with your level of expertise and experience. If you have a good relationship with a consultant, they can also coach you through the process.

Specialist accounting and finance recruitment consultants at Randstad regularly help professionals prepare for essential discussions regarding pay raises and salary negotiations. We also coach candidates through the process.

However, it is crucial to understand that it is up to you to make it happen for yourself.

If you want a pay rise, you have to earn it!

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