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How to ask for a pay rise

Kathryn Swan, UK Lead for Professional Services (Audit, Advisory & Tax), Morgan McKinley reviews seven tips to getting a pay rise.

March 2021

You’re good at your job, you may even be great at it and an integral member of the team as well as an advocate for the wider business.

Despite all this, you have been on the same pay for a while now. You feel that you have outgrown your salary and there are no current promotion opportunities available, but you would like to request a pay rise. There are 7 things to remember when approaching this situation:

1. Research will help you understand your worth

You may believe your efforts are underpaid, but are you actually when compared to the wider market? Our Salary Guide Calculator allows you to benchmark your salary against others in your area of expertise and will show how different levels of experience pay.

If it turns out that your salary is already above average, don’t take it as a sign that you won’t be able to get a pay rise - you’ll just need to build a really strong case!

2. Draw attention to past successes

List your achievements, with clear examples and data. Outline how you’ve added value, how you’ve increased your responsibilities, how you’ve overcome challenging situations, how you’ve positively influenced your team or how you’ve increased efficiencies.

Also highlight what you plan to do moving forward. Drawing attention to your future plans will allow your manager to focus on whether the upcoming value you can add equates to the pay rise you are requesting.

3. Be realistic with your request

Be ambitious but not unrealistic. If you go in with a figure that’s well above your current salary or industry average, you will have to build a strong case to justify your request. Using a salary calculator will help you understand what a realistic and justified pay rise would be for your role.

4. Timing is everything

When do budgets get laid out? When are pay rises historically granted? Consider the bigger picture when timing your pay rise request.
If the business has successfully been hitting targets (that you’ve contributed towards) and budgets are being signed off for next year, that’s a pretty good opportunity to arrange a chat.

5. Arrange a meeting with your manager

The time has come to initiate the conversation. Email your manager to make them aware that you want a discussion and include the ‘why’ with some rationale, then arrange a meeting. This is the sort of topic that should be done face-to-face - or over a video call if working remotely.

6. Confidence breeds success

As with so many things in life, confidence is key. Remain professional, speak slowly, keep to the facts and use positive language. If you personify the values and expected behaviour of the company, you will increase your chances of success.

7. Be prepared to take a step up

The discussion has been and gone. Successful or not, be prepared to add to your workload. If you got the pay rise you wanted, great. Now you need to prove that it was justified! If you didn’t, then fear not. Ask your manager for targets to work towards in order to be eligible for one in the near future.

Show your manager why you deserve a pay rise

It can feel awkward asking your manager for a pay rise, but if you take on board the advice above and show your confidence, it will be easier.

Do research around what other organisations pay for your role, gather plenty of resources to back up your claim, be realistic about what you can receive, use common sense to time your request well, do it in person, be confident and show that you’re able to take that step forward in your career