‘I haven’t had a pay rise in over two years and I think it’s time to ask. What’s the best way to approach it?’
Paul, 27, marketing coordinator
Talking about money and asking for a pay rise can be nerve-racking. It’s important that you don’t go into it like a bull at a gate; you need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and think through your approach, as well as do your research.
The following steps will assist you:
Find out what the process is for granting pay rises at your workplace and make sure you follow the proper procedure. If standard practice is for pay rises to occur at a particular time of year, it may be difficult – and inadvisable – to ask outside of this time.
Find out if your current salary is below the market rate for your level. Speak to relevant industry bodies, review salary data for similar positions and explore job websites to see what comparable positions are worth. Also talk to colleagues and friends who work in your industry to see what they think.
Your request for a pay rise should be evidence-based. Start by reviewing your job description, reflect on your performance, and document any additional tasks, achievements, or when you have exceeded expectations.
This is not a conversation to be had by the photocopier! You need to be the consummate professional, so send your boss a request for a meeting and let him/her know why you want to meet. I recommend referring to the meeting as a ‘salary review’. Prior to the meeting, provide them with a summary document outlining the reasons for your requested pay rise – this will give your boss a chance to review and reflect beforehand.
Make sure you take your documentation with you and stay focused on the facts. Be prepared for your boss to ask what pay rise you are expecting and why you feel this is justified. Avoid getting emotional and never talk about needing money for personal reasons, such as buying a house or needing a new car. Stay calm and professional, and never give an ultimatum such as threatening to quit unless you get a pay rise.
If the answer is ‘no’, listen to the reasons why and find out if there’s anything you can do to improve your chances. It’s also fine to ask when would be an appropriate time to re-visit the discussion. This is also a good opportunity to ask for things that are more likely to receive a positive response, such as opportunities for professional development.
Remember that pay rises are not only determined by your performance, but also by how well the business is doing financially. Sometimes you just have to be a little patient, but if you don’t get the result you are seeking and you don’t feel hope for a pay rise in the future, it may very well be time to start looking for a new position.
Jo Messer is a Career Development Specialist who has many years of experience in supporting and guiding students and graduates of some of Australia’s most respected universities, as well as mature-aged clients, across all facets of their career. She is a Professional Member of CDAA and an active member of NAGCAS. Whether you have a specific question about how to achieve your career goal or something more general, Jo is available to provide you with up-to-date advice.