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How to Ask For a Pay Rise – Do’s and Don'ts

People often look to a side hustle or a second job to increase their income, but the easiest way to bring in more dollars doesn't require you to change a thing. All it takes is an uncomfortable conversation.

If the idea of asking for a pay rise initiates a visceral reaction of total and utter discomfort, that's great – it means your central nervous system is in good working order. This full-body cringe that we experience when planning any difficult conversation often deters us from asking for what we really want. 

Unless your industry mandates yearly salary increases, the awkward pay rise conversation is inevitable. Depending on your situation, this delicate chat could take three minutes over a coffee or three weeks of reviewing your data, performance and overall value to the company. Either way, preparation is critical.

Kate Renner, Head of Employee Experience at Wisr, is here to share some tips on how to ask for a pay rise.

Don't spring it on your boss

The first and often most overlooked step in asking for a pay rise is actually setting a meeting. Be specific – tell your manager you'd like to schedule a meeting to discuss your salary. Don't drop it on them as you're heading out the door at the end of the day. Set a time and make sure your manager knows that the primary objective of the meeting is to discuss salary. That way, they can be as prepared as you are. 

For example:

"I'd like to schedule a meeting for us to discuss my performance and current remuneration package. Let me know a time that suits."

Do demonstrate your impact

If you have demonstrable proof of your increased value to the business, show them the numbers, baby! Come prepared with data that shows how you've reached or exceeded KPIs. What business metrics have you moved? What new initiatives or processes have you introduced? How have your actions increased revenue, reduced costs or inspired others to make an impact? 

For example:

"In the past 12 months, I've reduced acquisition costs by XX% and improved productivity among my team by XX%, which has given us time to create XX. The business impact was XX."

Be sure to double-check your maths and make sure your numbers are correct!

Don't be arrogant

"Selling yourself" is a tightrope walk. Talk yourself up too much, and your confidence may be mistaken as arrogance. Talk yourself up too little, and you'll have a hard time convincing your boss that you deserve a pay rise in the first place. This is where the data you share serves as backup. Let the numbers do the talking.

For example:

"As my results show, I have made a significant impact on the team's results and pushed KPIs forward across the business. I believe this demonstrates my increased value to the company."

Do your research

We'd all love to be on six-figure salaries, but the reality is that different jobs align with different remuneration packages. It's helpful to do some desktop research to find out what other companies in your industry are offering for comparable roles. You can use job sites such as Seek and Indeed, review sites like Glassdoor and even LinkedIn to gauge a salary range, but even this kind of research is limited. You might consider engaging a recruiter to determine the current industry salary averages.

For example:

"Based on the market research I've done, similar roles are offering between $XX and $XX. However, my role also includes several additional responsibilities that I believe push my value beyond that range."

Don't overshoot

Be realistic when you put a number forward for consideration. Take note of when your last pay rise was and what percentage increase you received, and factor that in when deciding on your asking figure. 

If you're not sure what a reasonable pay increase is, ask your manager. These shouldn't be loaded questions. You're simply seeking information so you can make a reasonable request. 

For example:
"What is the general timeline for members of the team receiving pay increases? Is there a standard percentage that the business works off when increasing employee's remuneration?"

Do invest in your learning and development

It's not always enough to have great sales numbers or good performance at work. It's important to demonstrate that you're dedicated to learning and growth. Taking an online course or attending a workshop can be the extra incentive your boss needs to give you that extra pay bump. Show how your newfound expertise translates into your current role, and you're more likely to be met in the middle.

For example:

"For the past six months, I have been taking a course outside of work hours to expand my skill set. I have applied my learnings in X, Y and Z ways. As a result, I believe the value that I bring to the company has increased with this new qualification."

Don't make it personal

Unfortunately, your boss doesn't care that you just bought a flashy new car and need some extra cash to cover the repayments. If you're given a pay rise, it should be because your value has increased, not because your lifestyle expenses have. It's one thing to know and share your personal financial goals with your manager – we actually recommend it – but don't use them to justify your pay rise.

"At Wisr, we believe conversations about money should be open and transparent. We encourage our employees to talk about their personal, financial and career goals with their leaders. It helps to remove the stigma of "taboo" when the more serious discussions around pay and remuneration rise."

Kate Renner, Head of Employee Experience at Wisr

Do time your meeting strategically

If your team had pretty dismal results last quarter, it's probably not a great time to ask for a pay rise. On the other hand, if the business just hit a significant goal or you're about to hit a major milestone, booking in a meeting amidst the glow of success might give you some momentum. 

For example:

"Off the back of the great quarter we just had, I thought now would be a great time to discuss my performance with the possibility of a salary increase."

Don't give up after your first attempt

If you don't receive the outcome you hoped for, don't retreat into a corner and vow to never put yourself through that again. Discuss the possibility of a revision in three months and get clarity on what you need to do to put you in line for a pay rise. If you're already at the top of your bracket, perhaps you should be working towards a promotion rather than just a pay rise.

For example:

"Would you be able to share the salary range for someone in my role? What are the action steps or targets I need to hit to unlock that next level?"

Do avoid making demands

Playing hardball is a risky business. If you lead with a "pay me more or I'll leave" stance, you're not exactly endearing yourself to the person who is making the call. If you're genuinely contemplating leaving your job if you don't receive this pay rise, you'll want to read this next tip.

"When vying for a pay rise, I like to use the term "fair." You're not demanding a billion-dollar wage. You're simply asking to be given fair remuneration for the value you bring to the business."

Kate Renner, Head of Employee Experience at Wisr


Don't be afraid to move on

If the company you're with isn't willing to recognise your worth and pay you accordingly, it may be time to consider a change. Take yourself to market and find out if there's a better role out there for you. Pretty soon, it'll become clear whether you're really ready to jump ship. And when you do, be sure to arm yourself with these expert job negotiation tactics.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.

Kate is an employee experience and wellness enthusiast with a love for all things that involve the ocean or tacos.

Kate, Head of Employee Experience

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