How to Ask for a Pay Rise (Even Now)

Last Updated Oct 21, 2008 1:56 PM EDT

Interesting timing on this posting from Australia about 'how to ask for a pay rise'. As Anne Barclay at HR Advantage notes, asking for a payrise at any time can be stressful. Asking for one in today's economic climate might seem plain ridiculous.

Even so, if the business context is right and you've put in a stellar performance, why not? Good employers will want to keep their best people -- if you are unhappy with your salary or feel you deserve more, they will want to know so they can at least consider addressing your concerns.

Those in industries that have been hit hard by the current economic upheaval should be judicious. If your company has just initiated severe cost-cutting measures, your request will be considered within that context.

But if you feel you should be considered for an upgrade, here are some tips on how to ask:

  1. Prepare -- find out what similar jobs in your industry pay and prepare a list of reasons as to why your skills, experience and achievements merit a higher salary. Many companies benchmark salaries as a matter of course, but even if they don't, a request is likely to yield a market comparison.
  2. Be objective -- a solid, clearly laid out business case will be more persuasive than a personal one, especially if your manager has to submit your request to a more senior executive.
  3. Think like your boss -- they will consider your request in light of specific things, such as
    • The value of your current and future contributions.
    • How unique your input is and whether your skills are easily replaced -- would it be disruptive to the business if you left?
    • The economy -- can the business afford to give you a pay rise in the current climate?
  4. Give your boss some time to consider your request. Don't expect an on-the-spot response, but try to establish how long it will take to assess the merits of your request. Avoid ultimatums, such as threatening to leave -- unless you're willing to act upon them.
  5. Be prepared to negotiate. You may not get exactly the amount you want. Are you willing to accept a compromise, or are there other, non-monetary rewards that you might consider? If your boss says, 'not this time', find out what you need to do to get that rise next time -- what extra work, training or responsibilities will you need to improve your pay grade? And how long will it be before your next salary review?