How to ask for a pay rise in a cost of living crisis – the dos and don’ts

Need more money every month? Find out how to ask for a pay rise in a cost of living crisis with these quick dos and don’ts.

A 2022 study revealed that while 40% of people asked for a pay rise last year, only 26% of that group were successful. 46% of men have asked for pay rises in their working life, compared to 33% of women. And three in ten men are successful when asking for a raise, compared to just 21% of women who ask, which could be a reason why fewer women ask in the first place.

Finance experts Finbri explain the dos and don’ts of asking for a pay rise in the cost of living crisis.

DO your research, and come prepared

The first step is to work out if you’d be eligible for a pay rise. Have you taken on extra responsibilities that weren’t in your job description? Are you contributing to the success of the company; for example, bringing in new business, increasing revenue, or improving efficiency? Provide evidence of why you should get a pay rise, rather than just saying you deserve one because you’ve been working there a long time. 

Compare your current salary to similar roles in the area with the same sort of responsibilities, so you can get an idea of what you should, and could, be getting.

DON’T mention the cost of living

Unfortunately, soaring costs of everything are affecting everyone – including your boss. Saying you need a pay rise purely because of inflation might not help your case. You need to be able to present solid facts and things you bring to the company that make you deserve to be paid more.

DO practice your pitch

Practise what you’re going to say, so you don’t weaken your pitch by fumbling over facts and figures. Don’t give everything all at once – hold some points back so you have something to come back with if they ask questions or say no.

Confidence is key, and body language can also play an important role. Make sure you know all of the figures and facts that you’re going to present, so you don’t have to look down at notes.

DON’T say ‘I feel’ or ‘I think’

Saying things like ‘I feel’ and ‘I think’ weakens your argument – you should know, not feel you deserve a pay rise. To be a strong negotiator, you need to have the confidence in yourself and the facts that you’re presenting, to show how much you bring to the company and why should get a pay rise, not why you think you should get one.

DO be prepared for a no

You can use online calculators to work out how much of a raise you’d need to keep up with inflation, so you’ll have a starting point. Ask for something higher so when your boss inevitably goes lower, you can compromise on something close to what you actually want and need.

However, you should have a plan ready in case negotiations don’t go your way. You might need to have several meetings, especially if it’s a large company with several tiers of management that will need to agree, so you could be waiting a long time, and still not get the result you hoped for.

Do you feel like you need to leave if you can’t get what you want? An ultimatum might not be helpful; your boss may not respond well to “if I don’t get what I want, I’m leaving”, and might make them want to replace you, rather than agreeing to pay you more!

If a pay rise isn’t possible at the moment, but they say it could be in the future, ask if there’s anything else they can offer while you’re waiting, like more holiday, flexible working hours, or even opportunities for development.

DON’T surprise your boss

Scheduling a meeting and letting them know what the meeting will be about, is important. They may be more inclined to say no to your requests if they feel they’ve been ambushed.

Allowing them time to prepare sets the tone for the meeting, and means they can have some figures in mind, rather than having to go away and think about it before proper negotiations can begin. If possible, make it an in-person meeting, rather than remote. 

DO be persistent

You might not get what you want immediately, so don’t just thank them for their time and move on. Ask when you can have the conversation again and ask if there’s anything you can do to strengthen your case. Set a milestone or a date to re-discuss and keep in regular contact to ensure it’s not forgotten.