How to ask for a pay rise, in 3 easy steps

August is here, meaning that, for the majority of us, so are annual reviews. Generally, that means a chance to evaluate how we’re doing in our manager’s opinion, and what we could be doing in order to take the next step up. For some of us, annual reviews are also the opportunity to pose the question we all quietly think about asking: do you think it’s time for a pay raise?

It’s all very well and good to have high hopes, but in the heat of a meeting, such a rational question might slip out in a format that’s Not Quite Right.

Here’s the three key steps to nailing that tricky conversation.

1. Do your research

One can’t stress the importance of this enough. The first step will be getting to know your company’s pay practices and policies, and when pay upgrades are offered. This will give you a set period in which you can begin to gather the results of your work and/or manage greater responsibility, to demonstrate why you’re worth those extra dollars.

Next, you’ll have to take a look at what your industry’s currently offering. Sites like Glassdoor and Payscale provide useful indications of what the market rate is for your role, and how this is likely to increase, meaning you’ll go into your review armed with evidence of what you should receive.

Note: if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that’s paying above the grade, this evidence mightn’t work in your favour. In that

2. Be straightforward with your manager

No ifs or buts. If you’re only airing your achievements and your vague inclination that your current role isn’t enough, you won’t be providing your manager with any practicable way to address your concerns; and if anything, that’s only going to ripen into confusion.

There’s no need to bring emotions into the fray here, either. If a pay raise is deserved, it’s likely the both of you have sensed it coming for some time. Meaning, there’s no need for flattery or uncertain testing of the waters or, God forbid, guilt tripping.

It’s best if you come with a specific figure in mind too, meaning that your manager can go away with a clear understanding of exactly what you want. Any ambiguity will leave it in your manager and corporation’s hands to debate — and if the figure isn’t one you’re pleased with, what should be a straightforward process could turn into months of negotiation and debate. No bueno.

3. Substantiate your claims

The words are out. Your manager is no longer required to read minds. The question is: are they mentally reviewing all your accomplishments in a positive light?

Again, if this is something that’s been a while coming, chances are good that they are. But it’s your responsibility to bring them to the forefront of your manager’s mind nonetheless, as proof of why you’re worth the figure you’re quoting.

If you’ve followed up on your figuring out when pay raises are offered (as mentioned in step one), you should have a veritable plethora of achievements to highlight your value to the company. While it’s important to tie these accomplishments back to the key performance indicators you’ve been hired for and how you’ve met them, it’s even better if you can show you’ve gone above and beyond by illustrating value you’ve added for the company.

For example, if you’ve been hired to manage a transition project, have you not only effected it but also managed to cut down on company costs during this period?

Keep in mind that while these accomplishments may be as clear as day in your mind, your manager’s often juggling a dozen different tasks and priorities and won’t be able to quite recall. That’s why it’s best to be able to be able to provide evidence of what you’ve accomplished for the business, whether this can be quantitatively or qualitatively analyzed. Try and put yourself in the CEO — yes, the CEO, not your manager’s — shoes. What results would look impressive and what numbers do you have to substantiate them? Have you been handed additional responsibility that’ll aid the company, which may not previously have been expected?

What have you achieved that’s pushed the company closer towards its goals? Is there a record of your involvement — and has your manager seen it? If not, they may ask for a copy, but don’t send this along until invited; no-one likes an unnecessary bit of showboating.

Of course, asking for a pay raise is still scary, no matter your situation. And it’s possible — albeit unfortunate — that in some instances, your company won’t be able to offer you the salary you’re looking for.

And if not, keep in mind there are always other employers who’ll consider your assets and experience worth investing in. Why not take a look at our job search for ideas?

Viv Mah writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

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Joey@careeralley.com
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