How to successfully ask for a pay rise

57% of Australians say a salary increase is their number one career priority this year, with 46% intending to achieve this by asking their boss for a raise.

But asking and receiving are two very different things. To ensure your pay rise request is successful, there are certain steps you must take, advises recruiting experts Hays.

“Asking for a pay rise can be nerve-racking,” said Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. “Many people avoid it altogether because they find it too difficult to broach this topic, while others prepare incorrectly and so fail to maximise their worth.”

“But with the latest data showing that the overall value of pay rises is falling, Australians are increasingly prepared to have this tricky conversation with their boss in order to improve their earnings.”

Here’s Hays’s advice on how to successfully prepare for your pay rise request:

1. Gather your supporting evidence
“Firstly, for your salary increase request to be successful, you need to show your boss why you deserve a raise,” says Nick. “It’s not enough to say the cost of living is increasing or that you’re generally doing a good job. You must have specific and quantifiable evidence to present to your boss.”

Nick suggests you ask yourself, “What have I achieved since the last time my pay was increased that warrants a raise today?” To answer this question, prepare a list of your recent achievements that exceed your objectives. It may help to look back at your last review or your original job description. Then list any changed or rising work volumes or duties you’re now undertaking and consider projects you’ve been involved in.

For each accomplishment, list the resulting benefit to the organisation. The aim here is to provide strong evidence to justify a pay rise, so focus on outcomes. For example, perhaps you have brought in 22% more business year-on-year, are managing a 25% increase in the overall volume of work or were involved in a project that exceeded objectives.

“Whatever evidence you gather, the key point to remember is that it needs to demonstrate the greater value you now bring to your employer,” advises Nick.

2. Research typical market salaries
Next, research the salary you feel your performance and results are worth by reviewing a recent Salary Guide. This enables you to back up your request with evidence and demonstrate that the salary you are asking for is in line with current market rates. The Hays salary check is a quick and easy tool that helps you understand typical salaries and your potential earnings, based on your job details and location.

3. Set the meeting and remain professional throughout 
You are now ready to ask your manager for a meeting to review your salary. Don’t spring this conversation on your boss though, warns Nick. “She or he could be in the middle of an urgent task or their attention could be required elsewhere. Instead, book a time with your manager and clearly state that the objective of your meeting request is to present your case for a salary review.”

When it comes time for this meeting, Nick suggests you keep it professional. “Take control, but stay calm and focused,” he said. “Do not become emotional and do not talk of how much money you need, such as rising bills or the cost of living. Instead, clearly present the evidence you’ve gathered to support your pay rise request.”

“If you’ve gathered appropriate evidence, you’ll have strong grounds for an increase that are hard to ignore.”

Nick also suggests that preparing a sheet of paper on which you document your evidence will help keep your boss from altering the trajectory of the meeting. “If you are feeling nervous, it will also provide you with notes to refer to so you don’t forget to present all your proof.”

Don’t expect an answer straight away though. “In all likelihood your boss will need to review their budget, talk to HR and draft the necessary documentation before your pay rise becomes official,” says Nick.

“At the conclusion of the meeting, let your boss know that you’ll follow up with an email summing up your request. Your email should be a clear, concise and accurate summation of the main points you presented and discussed. This provides you with a written record of your conversation and ensures there’s no room for confusion or misunderstanding.”

4. Be prepared to negotiate
Your boss may want to negotiate the value of your salary increase. According to Nick, you need to be prepared to discuss, at length if necessary, the salary you feel your results are worth. “Throughout this discussion, keep in mind your justifications for asking for a pay rise in the first place. Also consider how much you are willing to compromise – it can help to have an ideal salary increase figure in mind as well as the minimum increase you feel your results are worth.”

5. Have a fall-back position
“You should also have a contingency plan in case your employer comes back to you with the news that she or he cannot afford to increase your salary at this point in time,” suggests Nick. “For example, can you agree a date for another pay review in three or six months? Or could your boss instead offer additional benefits, such as working from home or an alternative location one or two days a week, paying for additional study or membership of a professional body, or providing you with extra annual leave?”

The FY 2019/20 Hays Salary Guide is based on a survey of more than 3,400 organisations in Australia, representing over 4.7 million employees, in addition to a survey of 1,600 skilled professionals.