How to ask for a pay rise

Authored on
23 Sep 2022



Asking for a pay rise can be difficult. And that’s especially true if you suffer from imposter syndrome – that feeling of being a fraud, and doubting your skills and accomplishments even when there’s external evidence of them.

If you lack confidence, it’s hard to find the right moment to ask, and you may just feel it’s easier to wait and hope for a pay rise to be offered to you. Not only can this adversely affect the salary you earn, but others might also assume you’re lacking in ambition.

In this article, Alice Draper from In A Pickle Careers talks through the steps you can take to confidently ask and negotiate a pay rise. She covers not only the negotiation meeting itself, but the factors that will make you feel confident a pay rise is what you deserve.

Research what your salary should be

First, equip yourself with the knowledge of what you could be paid at a competitor, and what the market average is. It’s worth doing this, because it typically costs a lot more money for an employer to replace you than to increase your salary.

Ensure you’re visible to decision makers

Keep in mind that your manager may not have the overall say in what you get paid. They may have to convince their manager or their manager’s manger to sign off a pay rise. So find out who the decision makers are, and make sure they see first-hand the value you bring to the business.

Ways to increase your visibility can include deputising for your manager when they’re away, or stepping up to make presentations when more senior managers are present. It’s also important to think about what you’re known for. If your name is mentioned, what do people say about you next? And is it a fair and accurate summary of what you can do?

If you don’t feel like you’re known to senior managers, don’t fret. This is something that you can work on, and shouldn’t put you off asking for a pay rise.

You don’t have to wait for your next review

You may feel it's natural to ask for a pay rise at your next review. But reviews don’t always happen regularly, so don’t wait for your next one. You can ask for a pay review meeting at any time. Just make sure your manager knows, prior to the meeting, that you want to discuss your salary. That way they won’t be shocked, and can prepare for a negotiation.

In a previous job, I used to have 1:1 meetings with my manager where I would ask about a pay rise right at the end of the meeting, timidly, often as she was getting up to leave. She wasn’t prepared for it, and I wasn’t making it my priority in that meeting – when really, it was my priority.

Be clear about what you offer

Find an authentic way of communicating a few ways you’ve influenced the business. Focus on the value you bring and the impact that that it’s had on the business. Try to include figures, but also talk about ways you’ve improved employee retention or culture.

Also, discuss the impact you want to have on the company in the future. Your department plan is growing, so your salary also needs to grow too!

And remember to practise what you’re going to say. For many, it can feel unnatural to talk about yourself and sell yourself. As a result, we either don’t do it or don’t do it very well. But practising a speech out loud in front of a friend or the mirror can help us sell ourselves more confidently. Even the best politicians will admit they practice speeches many times to make them sound authentic and natural.

Use your negotiation skills

Most of us hone our negotiation skills on a day-to-day basis – for example, whether we’re negotiating with a client or a colleague. Use these skills.

A negotiation can be awkward, so be prepared for awkward silences or professional flinches (where the other party makes an over-the-top shocked noise when they hear how much you want). These are designed to throw you off and accept less than you want. Ask firmly and politely. Keep it profession and positive, and try not to make it personal or emotional.

Remember the figure you ask for should be higher than what you want, as negotiations often go back and forth. Be prepared to ask more than once.

Break down barriers you may experience in your career, like negotiating pay rises

If you're not confident about asking for a pay rise, a career coach – like me – can help.

We can help you recognise and utilise your resources through reflection and structured exercises. This can aid you when making career-related decisions, or manage career-related issues.

Whether you feel stuck in your current role, feel you’re lacking in progression, or are looking for a complete career change, coaching could be beneficial.

Career coaches are also brilliant at times when big changes happen – like when you go on maternity leave or are made redundant. Your confidence can suffer, and work values can change. Talking these things through and finding dynamic ways of moving forward is helpful.

Keen to find out more?

Check out the website  
Follow on Instagram for more career tips  
Connect on LinkedIn

Author information: Alice Draper is the founder of 'In A Pickle Careers', helping ambitious female professionals be the best version of themselves in their career. She offers 1:1 and group career coaching for individuals and for companies.

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a personal recommendation or advice.