How to ask for a raise

Career Advice
23 May 2016 | Career Advice | Guest Author

Asking for a raise may fall outside your usual comfort zone but if you don’t ask it’s likely you won’t get what you think you are worth. Here are some tips on getting the raise that you feel you deserve.

How often should you expect a raise?

Let’s face it, we live in tough economic times at the moment. In the past it used to be the norm to expect a raise once a year; that is no longer the case, and it’s typically up to you to request a salary review. 
‘’I have coached a number of people over the years who, because of their hesitation to ask for a salary review, ended up feeling disenfranchised by the business overall. In some cases this ultimately led to the relevant parties leaving the business.’Ciara, Head of HR at Instant Offices

Preparation and planning

Determining how much you should earn is not easy, but there are helpful salary calculators that will help determine the range you should be expecting. The other opportunity is to look for job adverts that cover your skills and experience to get a benchmark. If you do that you need to add an element of realism to the process, so don’t set your expectations at the highest salary. Rather pick the average across the job ads you have researched. 
Once you have a figure in mind, go through your achievements of the past six months and identify how they have benefitted the company. If you have changed the way your company does something which has resulted in a cost saving, estimate how much that could have been. If you have helped win new accounts then having the amount at hand will help too. This helps steer the negotiation phase away from cost and towards value.
‘’They key thing when trying to put a value on your contribution is to remove any sense of emotion and entitlement. Be pragmatic and objective, and have an adult conversation rather than trying to list off achievements and accolades. ‘’ Ciara, Head of HR at Instant Offices

Timing is everything

Waiting for your annual review may also not be the ideal time to ask for a raise as the budgets for the year may have already been signed off. A rule of thumb is to start talking to your boss about 3 – 4 months before your annual review. Try and gauge the financial performance of the company and time your request accordingly. If you work in a small business, asking for a raise the day after the company loses a large account will come across as insensitive at best. Keep your ear to the ground for profit announcements or large client wins to time your approach correctly.
There are however other instances when it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a salary review regardless of company performance. These could be if the team has been downsized and you need to pick up more work as a result or if you were promised a salary review at a point in time and that time has passed.

Bringing the subject up

This all comes down to what type of boss you have. If they are forthright and direct, you can ask them for a meeting to discuss your current salary. If less so, then asking “How do I go about chatting about salary?” may be the best approach. 
Ideally you will have arranged a meeting for the discussion where you can present your case and get their initial feelings about it.


Make sure you come across as well prepared, highlight elements from your preparation that are in your favour and discuss them openly. Highlight your loyalty towards the company, your achievements over the last year and how they have positively affected the company. It’s important that you stay calm and considered and accept feedback from them before negotiating further. 
It is often best for your boss to suggest a number first as it may well be higher than you were prepared to settle for. If it’s lower then counteroffer and suggest a compromise between the two if you feel that is reasonable.

What if it’s a no?

It’s always hard to be pushed back on something but don’t get discouraged. It’s an ideal opportunity to ask, “What would I need to do to get the raise next time?” and prioritise your workload to get that. It’s a chance to align with the goals of the company and work towards them to demonstrate your true value.

‘’There can be reasons why a raise is not possible, often this is a business reason rather than a personal reason. It’s important to realise when to walk away and have a later conversation.‘’ Ciara, Head of HR at Instant Offices

An Alternative Approach

An innovative approach that I have seen work in the past is to be far more proactive. Identify an area of the business that isn’t working as well as it could be. Create a project and outline what you would do differently and how much money that could save/earn the company. Present that to your boss and offer to run the project to its conclusion on the basis that if the project is successful, your salary gets reviewed. This way your boss has a proactive idea to take to the senior management and it also highlights your strategic and proactive abilities.


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