How to get a pay rise

9 min read | Geoff Fawcett | Article | Career development Negotiating a payrise

Two women in workspace in discussion

Thinking about asking for a pay rise? Learn how to negotiate your pay rise and present a strong business case with Hays.

Whatever reservations and anxieties you may harbour, you cannot be fired for asking for a pay rise. But it can be frustrating and disheartening if the answer is no. Perhaps you’ll worry about how it could affect your relationship with your manager. 

It’s important to remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The more research and preparation you do, the more likely the outcome will be positive when you ask for a higher salary.

In this blog, we’ll look at key tips for how to negotiate a pay rise, including:

  • Researching salary bands in your industry
  • Showing your worth to the business
  • Preparing for difficult questions your boss may ask


How to make a watertight business case for a pay rise

The most important part of asking for a pay rise is making a watertight business case. A clear and coherent business case will help your boss to make an informed decision. Your case needs to be focused on demonstrating how much of an asset you are to the business. Make sure to include tangible evidence to support your claims.

These key tips will help you to ask for a pay rise that your boss can’t refuse.


1. Research standard salaries in your industry

If you’re not sure how much to ask for, a good place to start is the Hays Salary Guide. You have every right to tell your boss if you find out the average wage is higher than your current salary.

If you’ve been headhunted at a higher salary, it’s definitely worth mentioning when negotiating a pay rise. Your boss will appreciate the honesty and the fact that you’ve shown loyalty by giving your employer a chance to retain you as an employee.

Remember, choosing the right job is not always about the salary alone. Perhaps you’re earning the industry average, but can other employers offer your perks such as:

  • Pension schemes
  • Life insurance
  • Share schemes

Other benefits beyond salary alone may make up for a lower payslip. Check to see if your employer has a common procedure when asking for pay rises. This may be on your company’s internal systems, or you may have to ask HR.

The HR department could also help you to establish when your manager’s budget is finalised. Scheduling your meeting just after budgets have been confirmed puts you and your boss in a very tricky position – timing is everything!


2. Present a strong business case for a pay rise

Remember, your business case for your pay rise may also need the approval of HR. Make sure to present your case with your boss and HR team in mind.

Detail a robust agenda for your salary discussion meeting and take control of the conversation. A written agenda will keep your boss from changing trajectory and give your case a strong structure with points to consider. Your manager won’t be able to dispute visible facts and figures. In fact, including stats will also help your boss to convince HR.

The way in which you present your case is just as important as the content itself. Agree upon a time slot with your boss at least a week before your meeting. Catching someone unawares and asking for a pay rise is unlikely to work. Book a quiet, private room during a free afternoon where you can discuss the issue without distraction.


3. Show your worth with tangible evidence

It’s not enough to want a pay rise – you have to prove that you deserve it! Throughout your meeting, your boss will assess your case as they would an investment. You need to prove that you’re an asset to the business, so structure your presentation around this idea.

Write down all the things that you’ve achieved individually or as part of a team. Build your whole case around two or three of these projects. Back up your claims with real evidence, such as revenue generated, improved client relationships, tighter processes or costs saved.

You need to answer a few basic questions when negotiating a pay rise:

  • Are you going above and beyond the stated responsibilities in your contract?
  • Do you offer greater value than your colleagues who earn the same or more than you?
  • Have you taken on extra responsibilities recently?
  • Have you improved since the last performance review with your manager?
  • Have you added tangible, demonstrable value to the business?

If you answered yes to most or all of the above, then you have a strong case. Now you need to structure and present your case in an effective and comprehensive manner.

Remember: a pay rise usually comes alongside a promotion, so make sure you’re prepared for a change in role.


4. Be ready for difficult questions from your boss

Asking for a pay rise can be an awkward situation for your manager, so they might ask some trying questions. Make sure you’re prepared to negotiate by preparing an answer for each:

  • How much of a raise do you require?
    Based on industry averages/the company handbook promising X amount after X years/offers you have received elsewhere.
  • Will you leave if your boss can’t meet your expectations?
    Will you consider offers from other companies or can you negotiate on perks or professional development?
  • Do you think, considering the economy, it’s an appropriate time to be asking?
    Have you researched the job market and can you present demonstrable evidence that your talents are in demand?
  • Are you truly deserving of such a raise?
    Reiterate your points and highlight the benefits for the company. Being fully prepared for tough questions such as these will help you retain control of the meeting whilst making your clear and cohesive case.


5. Leave your pay rise business case on a positive note

Don’t put your boss under too much pressure at any time in the meeting – you want to avoid a confrontation. If your case is logical and well-reasoned, then allow your manager time to digest it fully rather than asking them to make a snap judgement. Agree a date and time to meet again and come to a final verdict.

You need to be prepared for all outcomes, as there’s no guarantee that your proposal will go well. If you’re not successful, you need to decide whether you plan to stay on or not. Consider all the other points above including the job market and general perks.


Learn more about how to get a pay rise with our helpful blogs

If you think you deserve a pay rise, make sure you read our tips and advice to present the strongest business case.


About this author

About Geoff Fawcett

Geoff has been in the recruitment industry for over two decades. He is responsible for Hays Financial Markets, which provides an integrated recruitment solution to London based Banking & Financial Services organisations. Specialist divisions include Finance, Operations, HR, Marketing, Purchasing, Secretarial, Risk & Compliance, Front Office, Finance Technology and Executive with in excess of 100 consultants.

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