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How to Ask for a Pay Rise

Illustration of an employee at a Fintech company discussing a pay rise in a one-to-one meeting with their manager

Asking for more money is hard. It can feel awkward and rude. But if you want to get paid more it’s a conversation you need to have. And knowing how to ask for a pay rise can make the process much less daunting and more likely to be successful. 

That’s why we’ve spoken to some industry experts – including our director Rich Lesser and Marla J Albertie, HR Director at TruthGroupSpeaks LLC and certified career coach – to share some insider tips on asking for a pay rise. 

They’ve broken it down into ten dos and ten don’ts – but Rich says that the key thing to remember is to avoid making it a confrontation. Keep your body language open and your voice calm and controlled, and don’t forget to smile. Put your case forward clearly, and be upfront about why you believe you deserve a raise and how much you’re looking for. 

Ten tips for asking for a pay rise

There’s never a guarantee of getting a pay rise, but the way you ask can make a big difference. Marla and Rich have some great advice to give you the best chance at success.

Arrange a meeting

You might be tempted to ask for a pay rise via email, or in passing. Both Marla and Rich would recommend against this. They strongly recommend arranging a meeting with your line manager to discuss your pay.

Rich suggests that you initially raise the subject in a review or an email, but make it clear that you’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss the subject rather than expecting a response on the spot. This gives your line manager time to think about your pay, and to discuss it with their superiors if necessary, rather than catching them on the hop and expecting an immediate response.

Marla agrees with Rich and adds that it’s important to be both professional and polite when making the initial request.

Research and Preparation

Going in prepared means you’re much more likely to succeed. You’ll know exactly what you want, and how you can justify it. Marla and Rich both suggest that you should spend some time looking at what standard salary ranges are for your role and experience level. Then make a list of specific achievements, contributions and additional responsibilities you’ve taken on to make a compelling case for why you deserve a pay rise. 

If you do this, you’ll be able to present your case confidently and efficiently. You’ll know exactly what you’re asking for, and have the facts and figures you need to back up your request. 

Start on a positive

Marla suggests that you open the meeting by talking about how you’re enjoying working at the company and letting your line manager know that you appreciate the opportunities and experiences you’ve had. This sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. 

Then, state that you want to talk about your salary and career progression in the company. Mentioning career progression helps keep the discussion positive, as it makes it clear that you see yourself growing your career there. 

Present your case

Follow up by talking about how you’ve brought value to the company. Talk about your accomplishments, your contributions and any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on. Marla says that you should focus on how you’ve brought value to the company. Mention specific successes you’ve had like projects that have performed well, awards you’ve won or positive feedback you’ve had from colleagues or clients. 

Rich agrees, adding that it’s important to make sure you have evidence to back up any claims you make. Come prepared with a list of reasons that you deserve a pay rise. 

Be specific

Marla and Rich are both very clear on how important it is to be specific about precisely what you’d like. Ask for a fair and well-justified figure, and remember to justify it with the research you’ve done. Make sure you’re clear about why you think it’s justified and reasonable based on current market value and the contributions you make to the business. 

Listen and choose your responses

You’ve probably gone into the meeting with an idea about how things are going to pan out – but there’s a good chance that the conversation will take a completely different direction. That’s why Marla says it’s essential to practice active listening throughout the meeting. This means staying attentive, listening to feedback, and being ready to address any concerns or questions that are raised. 

Rich says that you shouldn’t be afraid of silence too. Give your manager space to talk and to consider what you’re asking. You’ve been thinking about this for a while, but your manager has only just found out what you’re asking so allow them to think about it rather than pushing for an answer. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t give you a decision right there and then, and make sure you’re professional and respectful all through the meeting. 

Discuss market value

Share the salary range you’ve found for similar roles in the industry. Marla and Rich both agree that you should talk about what you bring to the business beyond the job descriptions you’re looking at and talk about how you’ve grown professionally and gained new skills and qualifications since your last salary review. 

Make sure to emphasise how your increased knowledge and experience are bringing value to the company, and if you can point to where your skills have demonstrably helped to increase revenue. 

Talk about your own development

Go deeper into the professional development and growth you’ve done since your last salary review. Marla says that if you’ve gained new qualifications that’s brilliant – spend some time talking about them and how they benefit the business. But don’t focus solely on the qualifications. Getting some letters after your name isn’t necessarily enough – you need to prove that you’re helping to increase profit margins. 

Be flexible

While it’s vital to enter the negotiation process with a figure in mind it’s also important to be ready to negotiate. Rich recommends that you be flexible and open to discussing other forms of compensation. The business might not be able to offer you a cash pay increase, but they might be able to give you other benefits like further professional development, performance-based bonuses or a company car. 

How to follow up

Both Marla and Rich make the point that the conversation doesn’t end after the meeting has finished. They suggest that if you don’t get an immediate decision you finish the meeting by summarising the points raised and asking when you can expect a response or update. You can then follow up with a polite email reiterating the points made meeting and noting the date when you were told to expect a response. 

Then if you don’t hear by that date you can follow up with another email. Remember to always be polite and professional, and never to be pushy. 

Things to avoid when asking for a pay rise

There are a few key things that are best avoided when you ask for a pay rise. These suggestions from Marla and Rich will help you keep your discussion positive.

Don’t be unprepared or uninformed

Research and preparation is vital. Rich and Marla both suggest spending plenty of time researching salary levels for similar roles to yours. Try to anticipate any questions you might be asked so you’re not caught off guard and make sure you’re well prepared with your list of achievements.

Don’t be confrontational

It’s easy to become defensive or aggressive if the conversation isn’t going the way you hoped it would. Marla says you should stay professional and respectful throughout, whatever questions or challenges you encounter. Being aggressive won’t help your cause at all.

Don’t be entitled or demanding

Marla and Rich mentioned earlier the importance of presenting a well-reasoned case and focusing on your value to the company. On the flip side, they stress the importance of avoiding demanding phrases like ‘I deserve a raise’ or ‘you need to give me a pay increase’. This kind of language will put your manager on the defensive and won’t help your argument.

Don’t compare yourself to others

You might be tempted to say something like ‘John makes more money than me, so I should get a raise’. Marla and Rich recommend against this. They recommend that you focus purely on your own achievements and contributions without referring to others, especially negatively.

Don’t make threats or ultimatums

Always remember that you should focus on the value that you bring to the business, and why they should invest in you. Marla says that making threats like ‘if I don’t get a raise I’m going to quit’ or ‘I’ll start looking for another job if you don’t increase my pay’ rarely has a good result. Rich agrees, adding that you should only ever threaten to leave if you mean it, and that begging is never a good look.

Don’t try to leverage personal financial difficulties

While it’s fine to talk about the financial goals and aspirations you have, Marla recommends not talking about financial struggles as a justification for a pay rise. You need to prove your value to the business rather than focusing on the problems you’re having.

Don’t use emotional pleas

According to Marla, you should avoid relying on emotions and focus on concrete examples of the value you bring to the business, responsibilities that you’ve taken on and any great achievements you’ve had.

Don’t come across as negative or burn your bridges

Whatever the outcome of the meeting, stay professional and positive. Marla says if you don’t get the result you want you should accept the decision gracefully. You could also consider discussing opportunities for your personal development and growth within the company.

Don’t use negative body language

Things like crossing your arms, slouching and appearing to be impatient are always best avoided in meetings, and even more so when you’re asking for a pay rise. Marla suggests that instead you should actively engage with the discussion and maintain eye contact.

Don’t pressure for a decision

You’ve probably been thinking about this for a long time. Your line manager might not have been. So be open to a constructive negotiation and don’t push them to give you an answer right there. There’s probably a decision-making process that needs to be adhered to, and they might need to speak to their manager before they can sign off. Marla says it’s fine to ask for clarification around timescales though, and to follow up the meeting with a polite email.

Go get a pay rise!

If your pay has been static for more than a year or so it’s probably worth your while to ask for a pay rise. Your employer might not be in a position to give you one right now, but if you stick to Rich and Marla’s suggestions you’re giving yourself the best chance of a positive outcome. You’re also highlighting the value you bring to the business, which could lead to opportunities for further personal development or promotion.

If you‘d like some expert career advice get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.

Rich, UK, Director

For additional career advice, please reach out to Rich Lesser at [email protected] or fill out our contact form, and one of our specialists will get back to you.


Employees can gauge whether their company is in a position to offer a pay rise by considering various factors, such as the company’s financial performance, recent changes in leadership or strategy, and industry benchmarks. Observing signs of stability, such as steady revenue growth or successful product launches, may indicate the company has resources for employee compensation. Additionally, employees can gather insights from company communications, such as financial reports or announcements about expansion plans, to assess the organisation’s priorities and potential for investing in talent. By aligning their request for a pay rise with the company’s strategic goals and demonstrating how their contributions contribute to organisational success, employees can strengthen their case for salary increases even in uncertain economic times.

If an employee’s request for a pay rise is denied, it’s essential to maintain professionalism and seek constructive feedback from management or HR about areas for improvement. Instead of becoming discouraged, employees can use the opportunity to gain insights into the organisation’s priorities and expectations for performance. It may also be helpful to discuss alternative forms of recognition or career development opportunities, such as additional responsibilities, skill-building workshops, or company advancement opportunities. By remaining open to feedback and continuing to demonstrate value through their work, employees can position themselves for future salary negotiations and career growth opportunities within the organisation.

Workplace culture and power dynamics can influence employees’ confidence in advocating for themselves during pay rise negotiations. Employees may hesitate to assert their value or challenge management’s decisions, particularly in hierarchical organisations or cultures that prioritise deference to authority. To navigate these dynamics effectively, employees can leverage support networks, such as mentors or allies, who can provide guidance and advocate on their behalf. Building rapport with decision-makers and demonstrating a collaborative approach to problem-solving can also help alleviate concerns about challenging authority while still advocating for fair compensation. By fostering open communication and mutual respect, employees can create an environment where discussions about pay rise negotiations are viewed as constructive opportunities for mutual growth and development within the organisation.

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How to Ask for a Pay Rise