How to ask for a pay rise

You’ve put in the hours, reached your targets, and even out-performed your colleagues. It’s only fair your hard work is reflected in your paycheck, right?

But what is the right way to broach the subject?  

Money is a delicate topic, and asking for a salary increase can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences an employee faces. 

According to a 2016 survey carried out by TotalJobs, 75% of women expressed discomfort at the idea of asking for a pay rise. Agonising over when to ask, how to ask and what to say is enough to put off even the most confident worker.  

However, there really is no need to avoid the matter. After all, it’s important to be paid what you deserve. So here is some advice to take the anxiety out of asking for a pay rise.

Go in understanding your value

Start by doing your research. This is key. You don’t want to underestimate your worth, nor do you want to be unrealistic in your demands. Doing some quick internet searching or use a salary checker to compare the average earnings for someone in your position can assist you in understanding how much you should be asking for.

Knowing which are your most sought after skills can also help to contextualise your market value. 

The right timing is important

Ambushing your boss as they’re about to leave on a Friday afternoon isn’t the best way to open up a discussion about your salary.

If you don’t want to wait for the next performance review, you can pre-arrange a meeting where you have the time to sit down and put forward your case.

Timing the meeting in conjunction with a particularly successful project you have worked on can only help with illustrating why you deserve a pay rise.

Likewise, bringing up the subject after your company has had an especially high-performing financial period, or when your contract is nearing the end and your employer is keen to renew will make it all the more likely for your request to be approved. 

Face-to-face is best

Arranging a face-to-face meeting will make it easier for you to ask for your raise. Not only will this ensure your request is less likely to be forgotten or ignored than if you were to ask via email, an in-person meeting also gives you the time and space to thoroughly go over all the reasons why you deserve this raise.

Your employer is also more likely to respect a request brought to them in person more than one sent through email. 

Prepare a good case for yourself

Knowing your worth is one thing, but explaining it is another. Compiling a list of what you believe to be your most impressive achievements in your job will go a long way in supporting a request for a pay rise.

Highlighting a particularly successful project, instances where you have gone above and beyond your job description, or have made especially positive contributions are all useful evidence for proving just how valuable you are.

Remember you are part of a team as well, so having examples of when you’ve worked well with your colleagues or a time where you demonstrated great conflict resolution skills can also be very helpful in securing you a raise. 

Present a good case for yourself

You’ve done the necessary research, you know exactly how much you are going to ask for, and you have a list of supporting reasons why you deserve this pay rise. But remember, what you say is almost as important as how you say it.

Nervousness is natural, but you should avoid fidgeting or rambling because, after all, you are essentially asking your company to invest more money in you. Make sure your wording is polite and professional, whilst being direct and unapologetic in asking for what you want.

Keep in mind that mimicking body language can also be a way of subconsciously engaging and building a rapport with someone – a useful trick when negotiating a salary bump. 


Playing every possible scenario over and over is not going to be the most productive use of time, but having a small script and understanding the possible reactions of your employer will prove quite useful.

A written script, even in note form, will organise your thoughts and help to plan out what you want to say in a clear and logical order. Rehearsing a couple of times out loud will also help to ease any nervousness on the day.

That said, don’t walk in to the meeting and expect your request to be approved on the spot. You may have to negotiate and allow compromise where necessary but, ultimately, when you’ve worked hard and achieved great results, your employer should be willing to recognise this in some form. 

Read more tips on getting a pay rise

Love more advice on how to ask for (and get) a pay rise? You’ll fid some helpful tips in these articles:

Photo by Johnny Cohen