So you feel as though the time is right to ask your company for a pay rise? Before you set foot in the boss’s office, let’s take a look at some of the ‘do’s’ and ‘do not’s’ of this exciting but sometimes deflating adventure.

The first question that you do need to answer clearly is why you feel that you deserve more compensation for your current work. For example, is it because you have assumed more responsibility than your original job description decreed, or is it because you have worked what you believe is an excessive amount of time without any discussion of a pay rise? Or is it because you have studied comparable positions elsewhere and determined that you are being underpaid? In other words, how does your salary relate to the broader marketplace? Doing your research is essential to the success of your business case.

Having said that, it is also important that you avoid ‘fall-back’ arguments that will not enhance your request. For instance, don’t express the reasons you need a raise – these are irrelevant. The question is always whether you deserve a raise. Also, don’t compare your performance to that of co-workers. Your perceptions are not necessarily those of management. Another ‘don’t’ is to avoid giving your boss an ultimatum – you just might walk out of the door wondering if you still have a job. Also, don’t ask for a raise in writing. It is always better to do this in person, and at a time when your boss is not under extreme pressure. If possible, do it when you believe that he or she is favourably disposed towards your overall performance. Many companies only consider pay raises immediately after annual reviews, so it’s important to strike while the iron is hot.

It is a very good idea to rehearse exactly what you want to say to your boss beforehand, perhaps even going so far as to write a script. You should also forewarn your boss that you have something important to discuss and ask when would be the most appropriate time to set aside ten minutes of his or her time, especially if it is outside the parameters of the annual performance review.

Don’t ask for what could be considered an outlandish pay raise. It is not uncommon for companies to entertain 5-10% salary increase requests without the sense that the employee is being unduly greedy. It is ok to aim higher in certain circumstances, but also important to be prepared for outright rejection.

Finally, send the right visual cues to your boss during the discussion. Maintain a confident demeanour and use succinct language to describe the reasons why you are justified in asking for a raise. Remember to reiterate your passion for the job at hand. Good luck and keep your chin up, no matter what the outcome!

Some do’s and do not’s when asking for a pay raise:
  • Research the broader market 
  • Pick the right time to ask 
  • Forewarn your boss
  • Say why you deserve a raise 
  • Maintain a confident demeanour 
Do Not
  • Give your boss an ultimatum
  • Ask for a raise in writing
  •  Say why you need a raise
  • Compare your performance to others
  • Ask for too much more money
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