How to ask for a pay rise?

Whether you’re looking for a decent annual pay rise, launching an interim salary negotiation or discussing a new job, don’t focus on what you supposedly need. That’s just trying to dump your problems back on your employer and does nothing to show why you might be worth the extra budgetary pain you’re proposing they take on.

The last financial crisis established a new pattern – pay rises are not a given. Your employee handbook might specify an annual pay review but rises can be small or frozen for long periods, even in the public sector. If your organisation is under pressure, everyone is suffering, not just you. Making your case for individual consideration needs calculated preparation and mindful presentation.

Your manager understands – things in life change – but getting married, buying a house, starting a family, building an extension, replacing a car and I need a pay rise are just not words that should ever be used together in the same sentence. To work out how to get a pay rise, don’t ask for what you want, work out what you can give to justify it.

When to ask for a pay rise?

Victor Kiam, famous for Remington Razors, said, “Never worry about the money on the way in. Just get in there, show what you can do, and promotion and the money will always follow.” The implications are clear: if you’re doing your job well and achieving results, take the initiative and ask for that pay rise. If you’re competent, excellent even, your boss may just breathe a sigh of relief and leave you to it so waiting and hoping someone will recognise your talent and reward you appropriately is a poor strategy.

Asking at your annual pay rise is psychologically easiest, as the door is open and that helps reduce any nervousness you might feel. Unfortunately, that does mean you’ll be staking your claim at the same time as everyone else, when the organisation aims to keep rises low. Being offered a new role, internally or with a new employer, is another easy time to ask for a better pay deal. You know you’re in demand and can confidently discuss responsibilities and results expectations alongside an equitable pay rate.

It’s more daunting to make a request at other times because you’ll need to be the one initiating things. However, it is the best time if you’re aiming at more than a nominal inflation-related percentage raise. Be aware of what’s happening in and around the organisation because great times to ask for a pay rise are when:

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