9 effective ways to ask for a pay rise

In some organisations, pay increases are tied automatically to levels and years of experience. In others, regular salary reviews are held with individual employees. Elsewhere, little will happen unless the employee takes the initiative. If you are in this position, and you want to remain with your existing employer, here are 9 effective ways to ask for a pay rise

1. Make sure you deserve it.

Are you really earning the money you currently receive? Do you work hard at your job? Do you carry your own weight in the organisation? How valuable are you to the firm? The first requirement in gaining a raise is to be worth more than you’re earning now.

2. Keep tabs on your own performance.

Constantly monitor your performance, particularly in those areas your superiors view as important. Work hard to meet your bottom lines – your budget, your performance standards, your sales targets, your deadlines.

3. Keep a record of your achievements.

Particularly if you have no formal reporting requirement, record your accomplishments regularly.

You will need these files later to help justify your case for a salary increase. Such records, of course, serve a double purpose: they are also vital for building your personal portfolio if you apply for another job in your organisation or elsewhere.

4. Promote yourself.

Subtle self-promotion is essential if you intend to progress in the organisation. Make sure you keep your mentor or superior up to date with your achievements. To do so without sounding boastful, compliment your staff on their (and your) success.

Don’t fish for compliments; but when someone thanks you for doing something extraordinary, ask him or her to tell your boss as well.

5. Hold regular meetings with your boss.

Never assume you are performing well, or, if you are, that everyone knows you are. If it is not already part of workplace procedure, try to have time set aside regularly – say every three months – to discuss your performance with your superior.

Indicate that you believe you are doing a good job. Confirm that your boss continues to share your view. In this way you will be preparing the ground for a later meeting when you can press home your request for a raise.

6. Do your research.

Be sure you know your grade or level, salary ranges within those levels, any guidelines or timelines for salary reviews, and similar background information. Learn everything you can from the personnel section, your peers, and your superiors. Know what you normally might be entitled to.

Find out what other organisations pay for positions similar to yours – talk to friends, search the ‘positions vacant’ columns, network at meetings and seminars, and read the industry magazines. Going into a meeting to discuss your salary requires you know exactly where you stand.

7. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes.

After preparing, and before speaking with the boss, reflect on how your request might be viewed from his or her perspective. Do you and your work performance warrant the raise? How is the company performing at present?

What will be the implications for others if you receive a raise? Think through the options, and how you can respond. For example, if the boss says:

“Now is not the time” and you think you are being put off, be gracious and find out when will be the right time. Then, when you come back at the time your boss suggests, you will have the advantage. In fact, at that point, you should begin by saying, ‘Four months ago when I came to ask you for a raise, you suggested that this month would be the best time for us to talk about it’, sounding as if you are only following orders.

If the boss says “You don’t deserve a raise”, ask what you have to do to make yourself eligible. If it’s worth it to you, you may want to improve your work performance and strengthen your case for next time.

If you still feel confident about asking for a raise, it’s time to ask for a meeting to put your case.

8. Meet with your boss and make your request.

If you’ve put together a rational case with supporting evidence and done your research, you can feel confident in requesting a hearing. Be aware of the rules and ask for what you think is fair.

Some bosses can feel threatened; but ask firmly, be decisive, and allow your superior time to think. Don’t demand a decision there and then: you could well force a negative response. Above all, make it clear that this is a request – a strong request, certainly – but not a demand.

9. Don’t despair if you’re turned down this time.

A rejection can mean that your performance doesn’t warrant a raise, that your boss cannot consent at this time, or that you have more serious problems than a pay increase. Find out why. The reason might help you to address problems you didn’t realise you had. But if the reason had nothing to do with you, you might wish to try other options, such as a promotion, or training, allowances, travel, and the like, in lieu of the raise.

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