How to ask for the pay rise you deserve

Think you should be getting paid more than you are? Here’s how to back yourself – and convince your boss to up your salary.

It has been a tricky year to ask for a pay rise, with many businesses struggling to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Career coach Gill Holden says many of her clients have steered clear of requesting increases this year.

“They’re just grateful for the opportunity to have a job,” says Gill, who runs Clover Lane Consulting.

But there is no reason you can’t look to the future, particularly if the business you work for sees its finances improving, she says: “Next year will be a very different platform for asking.”

Here are some tips to get on the front foot when you want a pay rise.

Are you really worth it?

Before asking for the big bucks, be really honest with yourself, suggests Gill.

“You can say ‘I’m worth this, this, this, and this’ – but if you don’t really believe it, and aren’t really delivering on it, are you?” says Gill.

She says you should be pouring your energy and passion into the job every day, while also showing self-confidence.

“When you’re walking the walk and talking the talk and it’s all combined, you’re proving your worth,” she says.

According to research commissioned by Seek, a survey of 4800 Australians found 63 per cent thought a 2 to 5 per cent pay rise was reasonable, 4 per cent thought less than 2 per cent and 5 per cent expected a pay rise of more than 10 per cent.

Prove your value

Why should you be the one to get a pay rise?

Or if you want to up your rates in your own business – what sets you apart from your competitors?

Gill says you should try to become that person that your client, or business, doesn’t want to live without.

You should also aim to quantify your achievements where possible, says career coach Heidi Winney, of Strategic Career Development.

“So if you’re in a sales role and you’ve been successful in not only meeting but exceeding targets, despite a difficult or challenging market, then you’ve got every reason to ask for either a pay rise or some sort of benefit,” she says.

Likewise, it is a good idea to demonstrate any efficiency improvements you have made.

For example, you might be in an administrative role, where you have managed to automate an otherwise time-consuming monthly report, she says.

According to the Seek survey, 31 per cent say the end of financial year – namely July – is the best time to ask for more money.

Research the market

Before waltzing into your manager’s office, do some research to see what the market is paying for the same or similar roles to yours, says Heidi.

“You can definitely ask for an amount and you need to be well prepared for that, but you’ve really got to practise the conversation,” she says.

“You can’t just go in there and sit in the boss’s office and say, ‘Well I want $5000 more’.”

But if the company is doing OK, you’ve got every reason to ask for extra money, as long as you can prove your worth, says Heidi.

Pick the right location

Requesting a pay rise can be a delicate dance, so make sure your timing and approach is spot on.

Heidi suggests setting up a meeting in a neutral space such as a meeting room.

“If you go into the boss’s office and ask for a meeting … you’re still the subordinate, if you like,” she says.

“Try to set up a meeting as you would normally do, and be super well prepared, practise your pitch and have the evidence ready.”

It’s not just about the money

While more money is always nice, Heidi says there are also other benefits worth negotiating, such as a four-day week.

“You could also negotiate an additional bonus for having achieved something,” she says.

“Or if it’s a publicly listed company, they may have an employee share purchase plan and you may be able to get some extra shares.”

A company car, health insurance or free or discounted gym memberships are other perks that might be within your reach.

Written by Larissa Ham.