The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Asking for a Pay Rise

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

This guide is dedicated to all the women out there who deserve a pay rise but haven’t received one yet. Maybe you haven’t had the courage to ask or didn’t know what to say and how to say it. I’m here to prove that it doesn’t need to be scary or awkward.

Here is a practical step-by-step guide based on my own experience (as an employee and a manager) that will set you up for success at your next pay rise conversation.

Why People Fail at Getting a Pay Rise

The top three reasons people don’t get the pay rise they want are:

  1. They don’t ask.
  2. They don’t ask for it in the right way.
  3. They work at a company that doesn’t value their work.

This guide will address reasons 1 and 2. If you follow these and still don’t get a pay rise, you have found yourself at reason 3 and should consider if this is the best company for you to work for.

You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

It’s unfortunate that most companies require you to ask to be paid fairly. While I do hope this changes, you will need to overcome your fear of asking for a pay rise if you really want it.

I get it. It feels squeamish and awkward to have to ask your boss for more money but let’s break it down into two easy phases. Understanding why you want a pay rise, then understanding why you’re scared of asking. Being clear on these two aspects will help you get over that fear

Understanding Why You Want a Pay Rise

There is usually one main driver for wanting a pay rise plus lots of other benefits that come along with it. You need to identify the core reason you’re going to have this seemingly uncomfortable conversation with your boss.

Based on my experience, common main drivers are:

  • I have grown and taken on more responsibility. My salary should reflect this.
  • I need a pay rise because my living expenses have increased.
  • I feel like I am underpaid for my skill level. I want to be respected by being paid fairly.
  • I haven’t had a pay rise for ages and feel left behind.

Obviously there are other benefits to earning more money. Think up a list of all the things you could do for you and other people (and pets!) if you got your pay rise. Be really specific.

Understand Why You’re Scared of Asking

Now that you know your benefits, you can weigh them up against what you’re afraid of. Are your fears worth busting through?

I have spoken to over a hundred women about requesting pay increases. The number one fear they have is rejection. They feel squeamish to ask for what they want because they are afraid their managers will say no. Their minds start making up stories about how managers will talk behind their backs and laugh about it with all their manager mates.

If this is you, I ask: What is actually the worst that could happen? If you get rejected, then your ego may be a little bruised, but what else? Probably nothing. In fact, this is a great opportunity to ask your boss what you need to work on in order to get a “yes”. Surely this is a win!

List down all the other worst case scenarios that are running through your mind. When you see your fears written down on paper, I can assure you that they’ll seem more manageable. All of a sudden, the pain of asking is worth the huge reward!

You can use this workbook to Overcome Your Fear of Asking for a Pay Rise in 5 Days.

Know What You Want

There are people who receive the pay increase they ask for, then feel annoyed that they should have asked for more. This happens to people who aren’t sure what their positions are worth, or have lowered their number in the hope it will lessen their perceived arrogance. Don’t be that person! Be clear about what you want and why.

How do you know what you’re worth? It can be difficult finding pay information because companies aren’t transparent about it. If your company doesn’t publish pay brackets for job levels, consider looking at online resources such as Glassdoor or Payscale. In the UK, Hays publishes a Salary Guide report each year which goes into detail about roles in different sectors, and even separates salaries based on location. You could also ask trusted friends in your work field if they’d be comfortable giving you an idea of their salaries.

Know the Process

Most organisations have a process for performance reviews. It is your responsibility to know what these are, and to time your conversations with your manager in line with them. If your company doesn’t have a process in place, I recommend that you speak with your manager and set something up. Get this agreed in writing and file it away so there is no confusion later.

Start Early

My number one tip for successfully getting your pay rise is: Don’t wait until your annual performance review meeting to start the conversation. Instead, start the discussion up to a year in advance if possible. If you already feel like you’re getting underpaid, then even more reason to have this conversation now!

If you need an extra confidence boost to get yourself in action, consider joining a supportive community. Women in STEM are welcome to join my online community here.

Your Manager Needs Time to Prepare

Give your manager some prior warning. Email, call or have a quick chat with your manager about wanting to set up a meeting to discuss your remuneration. They may like some time to look up procedures or speak to their managers about what needs to happen to enable your upcoming request. Then schedule an appointment that suits both of you.

Have the conversation face to face or via video conference if you work remotely. You’ll want to to have a good back-and-forth discussion about where you currently are and where you want to be. Your manager will also need to provide feedback on what you should do to get there. Being able to see them will help you pick up on their body language cues. Give yourself the best chance to understand what your boss needs in order to make your pay rise dreams come true!

The Dreaded Conversation

It’s really not that scary when you know what to say. I invite you to use this script:

“Thanks for making the time to meet with me. I’d like to discuss the opportunity to increase my remuneration within the next 12 months, and what I need to do to get there. I would like to aim for [insert new salary here]. Do you think that’s possible?”

There you have it! It’s as easy as that. So many women spend years dreading the ordeal of asking for a pay rise — so much so that they never do it. In just four short sentences, you can rip that bandaid off and start talking about what your manager needs from you in return for a pay increase.

Most people lose sleep over the awkwardness of their boss saying no. Note that if you approach them using the script above, it forces your manager to give you constructive feedback. The worst that could happen is they say, “Not yet, but you can apply for a pay increase if you do these things.”

You must walk out of that meeting with a defined list of improvements you should achieve in 12 months to receive a pay rise. After all, it’s your manager’s responsibility to help you achieve your career goals. Some managers are not so forthright about this so you will need to do some digging. You’ll understand why this list is so important in the next section.

Regular Feedback

What you don’t want to do, is spend a whole year working really hard on your manager’s suggested improvements, only to find out at your next performance review that you didn’t hit the mark. Plan regular mini-performance reviews with your boss during those 12 months. Even if this is not part of your company’s review process, be proactive and get these meetings into their diaries. This also lets your boss see that you’re interested in improving your skills and eager to step up. Go forth and take back control of your own career!

It’s a good idea to keep a record of your discussions and share it with your manager. They are generally busy people who have other employees to manage too. Sharing your records will help them to recall your conversations and keep track of your performance.

Bask In The Glory

Imagine that you’re about to step into your next annual performance review. This time, you started your pay rise discussion with your boss 12 months ago and have reminded them over the course of the year that you have been working towards it. You’ve given proof that you’ve improved along the way and your manager has been agreeing or providing further feedback.

It doesn’t hurt to remind them during your review meeting that you have been working towards your goal of receiving a pay increase. Bring that list of improvements you’ve made, along with your records of conversation you had with your boss over the year. By this point, you should know whether your boss is going to reward you with your request or not. There should be no surprises to you or your manager, and you should feel confident and proud of all that you’ve accomplished in the year!

Key Takeaways

Asking for a pay rise should be exciting, not scary. You’re not only asking for more money. You’re telling your manager that you want to be a better employee and asking what they need from you to get there.

Here’s a recap of what you need to do:

  • Know why you want a pay rise
  • Understand what you’re actually scared about
  • Be clear on what figure you want
  • Understand the performance review process at your company
  • Start the conversation at least 12 months early if possible
  • Give your manager time to prepare
  • Book in that first meeting and use my script to start the discussion
  • Be proactive by seeking regular feedback and recording it
  • Make room in your bank account for more money!

Still Freaking Out?

Are you thinking, “All of this sounds good on paper, but [insert long list of reasons it won’t work here].”? Until businesses start taking responsibility for paying their staff fairly, my aim is to get you to a place where you can take control of your own salary.

Tell me what you think your barriers are and let’s remove them! Get in touch with me here.

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Article originally published here:

I teach women in STEM step-by-step frameworks to be confident, strategy-savvy and influential leaders • Podcast: How to be a STEMinist • Insta @tiffanydawson_

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