How to ask for a pay rise

Asking for a pay rise can feel like a daunting prospect. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of us have never asked for one, and this can be driven by not knowing how to put your case together. So here is our quick guide to asking for a pay rise.

#1 Determine the strength of your case

The first step is to understand if you have a good case for a pay rise, and there are a few factors that come into play:

  • Have you been at the job for a reasonable amount of time to highlight your value to the organisation?
  • Are you exceeding expectations in your current role and/or taking on increased responsibility since your last pay rise (or if you haven’t had one, when you commenced the job)?
  • Is your salary below the average market salary for your role/skillset? If there is growing demand in your industry, there’s more chance wages have grown.

If the answer is yes to at least two of these questions, you likely have a solid platform for requesting a pay rise and can make a good case.

#2 Prepare your pitch

Asking for a pay rise is essentially making a sales deal with the organisation. They pay you more in return for your valuable services, so think of it like a pitch. Give solid business reasons why you’re worth more. (It’s important to note that personal reasons may be important to you, but shouldn’t be part of your pitch.)

It’s ideal to prepare a brief summary that covers all the key points as to why the business should pay you more. Next, prepare some longer explanations with work examples in mind that you can use as necessary to expand on your request. If you are being paid under the market average, it’s helpful to have this information handy as it is a negotiation point, but ensure it is from a reputable Australian source.

At this stage, it’s worthwhile thinking about whether you are prepared to negotiate, by how much and whether there are any changes to conditions that could factor into your discussions in lieu of a bigger paycheque, such as a 9-day fortnight. This might not work for you, but it’s worth considering alternatives that might be put on the table and how you would respond.

#3 Choose your timing wisely

Ambushing your boss with a request for a salary increase will likely catch them off guard. The best approach is to schedule a meeting and indicate that you’d like to discuss salary so that they are on the front foot going in and can come in prepared to listen to your case.

#4 Keep a level head and focus on your prepared case

In the meeting, you may hear the reasons why it’s not feasible or have some hard questions put to you about why an increase is justified. It’s where your preparation comes in and it’s critical to keep a level head and avoid ultimatums, such as the threat of leaving. An employer is likely aware that you leaving is a potential outcome of rejecting a pay increase request and it will rarely further your case to say so.

#5 Be prepared to wait for an answer

Your employer may not give you an immediate answer because they need time to think, check with other stakeholders, speak to HR or review budgets. So be prepared to wait and continue working hard, even if you suspect the answer may not be in your favour. Letting your performance slide while your employer makes their decision is not going to increase your chances of success.

#6 If you don’t get the answer you want, ask for feedback

Just as you gave the business a case for your raise, it’s reasonable to ask for feedback on why you weren’t successful this time. It’s important not to go into this with an adversarial mindset, but to ask in a professional way what you can do to reach that salary level.

If you receive feedback that relates to increasing your performance or skills, you have a clear next step to get to where you want to be, and you can decide whether to work toward it or look for your next move elsewhere.

If the answer is more about the business or budget, you also have a decision. If your employer indicates that it could be back on the table when financial milestones are reached, you need to decide whether you want to wait it out and continue working with the organisation. And that really comes down to whether you enjoy the job and see opportunity in the future versus other opportunities available in your industry.

Note: It’s important to note that this article pertains to a request for a pay rise based on performance and value to the organisation, not where your pay does not meet award or legal requirements.

About the Author
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Jenny Lloyd

Founder/Director of Connections
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