How to ask your boss for a pay rise

If you don’t ask you don’t get!

I am always surprised to hear just how many candidates have never asked their current employer for a pay rise, yet gaining a higher salary is usually one of the main reasons people start to search for a new position.

Changing your job is not an easy task and involves hours of job searching, CV writing, applications and attending interviews. Most candidates who are currently working have to use holidays to attend interviews, and can worry about their current employer finding out about their search.

When I interview candidates looking to for a new job purely to gain a more lucrative salary I always ask if they have approached their current employer for a pay rise. If they answer no then I suggest they do so first before we begin their search. Usually the candidate wonders why I am encouraging them to ask for more money and potentially remain with their current employer. The answer is simple, no one wants a counter offer situation at the last hurdle! Often if candidates are only looking for a new job due to an increase in salary it can all come to a disappointing end for the new employer when the candidate hands in their notice. Few employers want to re-recruit and definitely don’t want to lose great staff, so naturally at this stage some employers will counter offer to keep the person.

There are a few problems with this as your new employer will naturally be very disappointed after reaching the offer stage, only to be let down if you decide to stay put following a counter offer. You should also ask yourself; why you were really looking in the first place and was it only for more money? Will you have to go through all of this again next time you want a rise?

Why do we find it so hard to ask?

So why don’t we ask for a pay rise? Why do we find it so difficult? How many of us just carry on and then eventually look else where instead of having that potentially awkward conversion? Surely looking for a new job is much harder? Historically, talking about money has always been a tough one for us Brits. On the main we avoid awkward topics such as this and wait patiently often viewing a pay rise as a reward. I interviewed a candidate only the other week who had worked for the same employer for 8 years in the same role and was still on the same wage as when she first started. She was originally offered a salary below the average for the job role with the view for this increase in time. Eight years later she had come to see me as she was fed up of waiting for a payrise. Needless to say she had never asked for one either!

So how do you ask for a raise?

First you need to do your research so that you can provide your employer with some facts and figures. Take a look at some current job adverts similar to your position in your industry if possible to gain a benchmark before you decide on a figure to ask for. Secondly, you need to decide on a salary amount you would be happy with and be honest with your employer about why you feel you deserve it. Thirdly do not surprise your employer with this, it is best to ask for a meeting or 1-2-1 and tell them up front that in the meeting you would like to discuss your pay. This gives them some warning and time to prepare.

Plan what you are going to say and keep to the point. Something like “I wanted to talk about a pay rise. After x years working here I still love my job and the company but feel that my pay doesn’t reflect the market/skill set/experience any longer and £x amount would reflect it.” Make sure you then give them some time to digest your request and even say “I appreciate this is new information so if you want to meet up again later to discuss it I understand”

What if the company can’t or won’t give me a raise?

Your current employer may not be able to offer you a raise (even if they wanted to) and if this is the case at least you have given them the opportunity to consider it and then you have all the information you need to look else where if you still wish to gain a higher salary. It may be an idea if you want to stay in your current role that you negotiate some other benefits such as flexible hours, free parking or more holidays if money is not negotiable. You may already be paid a salary that reflects your skills and experience as well as the marketplace, so if you are refused a rise on this basis you may have to rethink your expectations or begin your search elsewhere.

If your boss does offer you a pay rise then not only will you be happy that you have received more money in your current role, but you will not have to start the long and often stressful process of finding a new job. You will also feel pretty good about yourself for trying in the first place!