How to get a payrise

Do you need a payrise? It can be an awkward thing to ask for, yet the way you handle it can directly affect the outcome. Ros Toynbee, director and lead coach at The Career Coach, gives her top tips


How to get a payrise

1 Make a business case for getting your salary reviewed

You don’t get a payrise just because you’ve been in your role a long time, you get a payrise because you demonstrate value to the business over and above what is expected of your job role. If you are able to quantify it, so much the better; in terms of saving sufficiency and income earned. But not every job is like that. So it’s about showing what value you have brought to the business. Put that together in writing, alongside emails from internal or external customers saying how amazing you’ve been, and the value that you have given to them, and present this to your boss to support your case.

2 Prepare answers to likely questions and objections

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes; what is he or she going to be worried about? Budget, and how it looks to the people above, might be the obvious ones. Make a list of all the objections that you think your manager would have, then write a list of all the things you could say to reassure them.

3 Pick the right time to speak to your boss

Give them a heads-up that this has got to be a private, scheduled conversation. The last thing you want is an ad-hoc meeting in an open-plan office with a million distractions. A great time is after you’ve just wowed that client, or your boss has been saying how amazing you’ve been. If you can ride on the back of a positive wave, that will stand you in good stead.

4 Take control of the meeting

Having set out what your business case is, talk it through; give your boss the pieces of mentioned evidence in step one that they will need to take to whoever controls the budget. Look at them confidently when answering to their objections, because they are testing you. Look them square in the eye, sit upright, keep your feet flat on the floor, don’t cross your legs, and be dressed appropriately. Have a conversation about what’s possible, and be open to discuss what they have to say.

5 Don’t take a ‘no’ at face value

A ‘no’ might be a ‘no, not right this minute’, so if it is a ‘no’, ask with a smile, ‘OK, what would make it a “yes” next time?’ and ask for a time to review this. Let them know you are serious about this. Even if it’s a ‘no’ next time, it becomes increasingly hard not to say ‘yes’ on subsequent occasions. Don’t let a ‘no’ faze you – in fact, almost expect a ‘no’ initially, and that way, you’ll stay strong and confident.

6 Ask for more money than you think you’ll probably get.

Women in particular tend to do themselves down and that’s not a helpful strategy. If you think you deserve an extra £1,000 a year, ask for £2,000. Ask for more than feels comfortable for you to ask for, then if you do get £1,000, mission accomplished!


Have a plan B. You’ve been turned down for a payrise, but can you get a bonus? Sometimes it’s easier for organisations to give a one-off bonus that they don’t have to factor into next year’s budgets. Or could you get a change in job title? Have a think about a back-up plan and be willing to discuss it. What you don’t want to do is say, ‘If I don’t get this payrise, I’m going to walk’, because if you make a threat like that, you might find yourself in a position where you have to carry it out…

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Photograph: Corbis


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