Career

The 5 Things You Need To Do Before You Ask For A Pay Rise

Even if you know you deserve it, asking your boss for a raise is one of the most nerve-wracking conversations you’ll ever have. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can to make it more bearable and increase your chances of hearing ‘yes’.

All year, you’ve been smashing goals in the workplace and impressing all the right people. Your boss is constantly showering you with compliments on your work and you know you could do your job with your eyes closed. However, the amount of zeros in your bank account doesn’t exactly reflect this. So, you finally pluck up the courage to ask your boss for a raise.

But when you do, your confidence suddenly vanishes and you transform into Eminem circa 2002 —your knees are weak, your palms are sweaty. You bumble your way through a speech about why you deserve more money, only to be met with a “sorry, we just don’t have the budget for that right now!” AKA a big, fat no. Now, you not only feel undervalued in your company, but things are awkward AF when you run into your boss in the kitchen.

When it comes to asking for a pay rise, your approach is everything. If you meekly say “I’d kind of like a higher salary but it’s all good if not!” you’re giving your boss a green light to decline. It’s all about going in confident, composed and thoroughly prepared. How do you do that, exactly? By ticking off these five things before you even think about knocking on your boss’ door.

#1 Give them notice

Let’s be honest, nobody likes to be ambushed. Sneaking up behind your boss at the cookie jar and whispering “gimme more money” into their ear probably isn’t going to go down well. Neither will cornering them at after work drinks. Most career experts recommend flagging it with your boss via email that you’d like to discuss your pay, before setting a time to speak to them in person.

#2 Time it wisely

If possible, it’s best to re-negotiate your pay around the time of annual reviews — as your boss will be in the right frame of mind to discuss money. That said, you don’t necessarily have to wait until then to plead your case. Just be mindful of what’s been going on within the company. If they’ve just lost a major client or have recently had a lot of redundancies, it’s probably not the best time to ask. Interestingly, psychologists say that Monday is the worst time to ask for a raise, while mid-morning on a Friday is best.

#3 Get specific

Research from the Columbia Business School shows that going in with an exact number makes you more likely to be successful when negotiating your pay rise. This means going for a number like $74,500, compared to $70,000. According to the study’s author, this is because a precise figure leads the other party to think that you’ve done research to arrive at a very particular number, so they’re more likely to believe you’re correct. In order to arrive at this number, it’s worth researching what other people in similar positions at similar companies are paid for. Job search website Glassdoor is a fantastic resource for this.

#4 Have a list of your accomplishments ready

This is by far the most important step. You need to be ready to argue why you deserve a raise, not why you ‘need’ one. So, telling your boss that you’ve put in a lot of late nights and now want to go on a trip to Hawaii ain’t going to cut it. Instead, you need a list of specific examples of how you’ve added value to the company and gone above and beyond the expectations of your role. Think about extra projects you’ve taken on any game changing ideas you’ve had. If possible, come with quantifiable examples of your contributions (ie. I made X many sales over the last quarter, which brought in X amount of money to the company.)

#5 Rehearse your pitch

Once you know what you’re going to say, figure out how you’re going to say it. It’s worth practicing your pitch in front of the mirror or with friends beforehand— as it will make you feel more confident and help you avoid any nervous rambling. It’s also a good idea to prepare for any questions your boss may have, as well as the possibility they may say no. Do you have an offer from another company you can use as leverage, or are you prepared to accept a lower number? These are all things worth considering before you step foot in your boss’ office.


Emma Norris is a Sydney-based freelance writer and the owner of copywriting business, Content in the City. When she’s not playing with words, she’s either doing pushups or stuffing her face with pizza. You can follow her on Instagram @emmajnorris92