How to Ask for a Pay Increase
Updated: Jan 22
For those of you in a job, there may be times when you feel you deserve a promotion, more money, more hours, or a bonus. But how do you go about doing this without being viewed as self-entitled, aggressive or rude?
This article looks at how to ask for MORE.
The first, perhaps non-obvious place to start is: How long have you been working in this job?
When asking for a pay increase, you need to show your boss/ manager you are worthy of that higher salary. If you have not even been in the job for at least 5-6 months, it's probably too early to ask. That being said, a pay raise so early in your tenure is definitely unlikely, but still possible. As the quote goes: "you miss every shot you don't take". This simply means, if you don't try, you won't know.
Here are the 5 steps on how to ask for a pay raise:
1. Approach with curiosity
When you want MORE in any circumstance, it often is linked to feelings of LACK.
To start, it is valuable to reflect on your experience at work, think about your reasons, your feelings, and how you might discuss this topic with your manager. Be curious at yourself and your motivations. Why do you want this promotion or pay rise now?
When you want MORE in any circumstance, it often is linked to feelings of LACK. So, before you open a conversation with your boss about this pay rise, promotion or bonus you feel you deserve, take some time to be curious about the feelings you hold. Ask yourself:
What am I missing in this job?
What is not being appreciated or accepted?
What do I want that I am not getting?
What is the dominant feeling I have right now about this desire for MORE?
Do I feel like giving my manager/ boss an ultimatum?
Let those answers sit with you a while, and reflect on them.
Now, we're not saying that you shouldn't ask for a pay rise, but if you were to ask when you hold intense feelings of dissatisfaction or anger towards your boss, colleagues or the role itself, you are more likely to be turned down. See, your emotion will shine through in your words and may even colour your tone in emails or face-to-face discussions. The idea of asking for a pay rise and alike is to get it, right?
So. Be curious with yourself, work on any DARK feelings that the questions bring up in you, and then move on to the next step.
2. Prepare well
Step two involves reaching out to your boss/ manager to discuss your desires. But don't go running off just yet!
It is extremely beneficial to take note of other aspects that impact your decision to ask for a pay rise. Grab a few sheets of paper and write down your answers to these questions:
What are your goals for this job, short-term and long-term?
What responsibilities would you would like to add to your role?
How you have improved or helped the business since you started in this position?
Is the business/ your department/ your manager in a high-stress juncture right now? If yes, how could you best alleviate some of that stress before asking for a pay raise?
What is the average rate of pay for your job title, with your work experience and qualifications?
Now, reflect on your answers, and write an email asking your boss/ manager for a face-to-face meeting time to discuss your role. Try to get the meeting at least 4 days in the future.
Should you be unable to meet in person, then you will need to use email to explain in open and honest ways why you would like a pay raise/ promotion/ bonus. However, there's a process to this. Read on, to learn about step 3.
3. Ask graciously
You may be lucky enough to get a meeting time in person -- this is ideal. Though a little bit more nerve-wracking, there tend to be less misunderstandings in person, and you also get a chance to show your enthusiasm and professional dress-sense, where appropriate.
Whether you are meeting in person or having to draft an email to officially ask for the promotion/ pay rise, it is essential that you write a draft letter to your manager about why you feel you deserve this increase. Think about your answers to the aforementioned questions in Step 2. When you write this draft, draw on your goals, the responsibilities you hope to take on and what positive contributions you have made towards the business since you started. Think about whether or not you wish to include the information you discovered about the average pay rate for your position -- are you being underpaid? Make sure to avoid inflammatory language, threats, ultimatums or other similar demands. You want to ask graciously, showing respect for your boss, the role, and the industry.
Have you finished writing your letter? Great. DO NOT SEND THE LETTER!!! This is a draft.
Instead, sleep on it. We mean: You can write the draft letter and give yourself a few nights without looking at the draft, before re-visiting it. In a perfect world, your meeting is happening in 3-4 days, so you do have time to reflect and think about what you want to say.
When you look at your draft letter again, make any changes and edits, before committing to that course of action.
For those of you emailing your request: You do not want to send a spelling mistake, or send an poorly written request, you also so not want to sound impolite, demanding, or manipulative. So, it pays to give yourself time with the words, to allow yourself to find the right way to craft your request. It is good form to write as if constructing a formal letter and show respect in your language. Also include sentences like, "I'm open to learn how I can improve to take on more responsibility" or "I'd love to discuss my goals with you further" or "could I do anything now to shape myself into the [more senior job title]?"
For those of you meeting in person: Having written out what you want to say in a draft letter is a great way to practice for being there, on the day. Rehearse your 'pitch' and make it genuine and heartfelt. You may like to practice in the mirror or with a friend to gauge how you use your words and how they might be interpreted. When you meet your manager in person, be sure to bring your newly edited letter, so if you do feel terribly overwhelmed, you can always READ it to them.
4. Accept what IS
Whether you get an approval or rejection of your request, it is important to truly hear what your boss is saying in response
Asking for something that you feel you deserve is inevitably going to generate emotions. If you get it, try not to jump up and down and WOOHOO! This is awesome, but be gracious in your success and thank them. Now, you need to accept what is and live up to whatever you asked for.
And, if your request was turned down, be gracious then too. See -- even if you have worked through the negatives of your desire/ lack and have confidence in yourself and this pitch for more, sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes even with all your preparation and authentic expression and hard work, you cannot land that promotion/ pay raise/ bonus. Now, you need to accept what IS and be willing to continue in your job.
If your request was turned down, it doesn't immediately mean that your boss is completely unreasonable, nasty, or has decided you're not good enough. It could be any number of reasons why they reject your request. For example: the company is not in a good financial position, they are doing restructuring, the role you want is already filled or doesn't exist, they feel the work you're doing in this role is perfect for the business right now, they want to see more commitment from you (often the reason if you're very new to a role), or maybe they are restricted by laws and what not.
Whether you get an approval or rejection of your request, it is important, at the meeting (or when reading their response on email), to truly hear what your boss is saying in response to your request. This is the time where you have openly and honestly laid yourself bare, telling them your goals, your wishes to grow with the business. You have been vulnerable and this really shows great courage and tenacity. A manager/ boss likes to see that. If you can accept what their response is, and find your inner CALM to take their words on board and continue to excel in your role, that's already putting you in better stead for an eventual promotion!
So, in short -- if you want to secure that promotion, pay raise, bonus, ASK.... but make sure to approach with curiosity, prepare well, ask graciously and accept what is.
We hope that helps!