How to negotiate a salary increase (and how not to)

Asking for a salary increase can be awks but it doesn't need to be, here are some tricks to bumping up your take-home

2w ago


You've worked hard all year, grown professionally, taken on new roles and learned new skills and now you want a salary that reflects your increasing value to the company. It can be a tricky conversation to start but also one that needs to be had, so here are 10 rules to making it as painless as possible.

Timing is everything

Most staff get an annual performance review but, ideally, you want to start talking about pay rises before then – maybe even at the start of the year. Why? Well, because companies operate on a 12-monthly budget and if your pay request pushes costs past it, you'll have more luck pissing in the wind than you will of getting a budget-busting salary hike. Instead, broach the subject early so that budgets are agreed taking account of possible pay increases.

Choose the right day for a chat

If you're building up to that initial "I'd like a pay rise" chat, be sure to do it on the right day. Bosses are humans too, and just like the rest of us, they find Mondays blue, so why not get the ball rolling on a Friday afternoon? You're hours from freedom, spirits are high and the grounds for pay rises are fertile – now's the time to pounce.

Do your research

Okay, so you've planted the seeds of a pay rise chat in your boss' head, waited for the right day to ask the question and now you're going to go in for 'the chat' completely unprepared? Course you're not. Prepare, prepare and then prepare some more. Online jobs sites like Indeed and Glassdoor will give you a decent idea how much you should be earning but don't use their rough scales, look at your company's direct competitors and find the highest salary that most closely matches the work that you do, then set it as your target figure.

Prepare your pitch

At this point, you should have a good idea what your skills are worth and why but don't stop there, demonstrate how you have grown with the company. By that I mean, highlight new roles and responsibilities that you've taken on, staff that look to you for leadership and why you're invaluable to the smooth running of the operation. Good staff are hard to replace and companies know this.

Ask for more cash than you expect to get

Other guides might recommend offering up a pay scale to negotiate within but what company is going to offer you the full money straight off the bat? Not many. No, asking for more than you actually want seems like a better option. Say you want £60k, you ask for £65k and the company counters with a £60k offer – you get the money you want and your company feels like it has negotiated you down. Everyone's a winner!

Take a good-natured approach

Don't be a c**t is a good life rule, but it's even more important when you're asking people for money. Stomping your size 12s on the boss' floor while shouting him or her down on how brilliant you are, probably isn't the best way to get yourself a pay rise. It may even get you sacked. Instead, approach the subject with a smile on your face and a spring in your step and your much more likely to get a positive response.

Be confident

Along with being nice though, you also want to be confident. Don't allow yourself to be deflected from your ultimate goal, come prepared to answer tough questions (and don't take them personally) and have enough information at hand to be able to stick up for yourself. Facts are hard to deny and if you can prove your worth the financial benefits should follow.

Keep your reasoning professional

"I really want a new BMW" might be a legitimate reason to get a pay rise in your head but, trust us, the boss will have different ideas. An increasing salary reflects your growing value to the business, not your increased need for new shiny things. Your pitch should be a well-balanced argument, not a sob story.

Understand your leverage

It's not just your personal performance that'll affect your chances of getting a pay rise – outside factors matter, too. Business underperforming, part of a dying industry or maybe there's plenty of competition for your job? If the answers yes to any of these then you're less likely to get a salary hike. On the other hand, maybe you're a developer who built your company's website from the ground up, only you know how it works and you've designed it in a way that'll make it very tricky for anyone else to learn – congratulations, you have more leverage than a 10-foot crowbar.

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Comments (8)

  • Having a decent beard has helped me significantly in this regard

      15 days ago
  • As far as timing is concerned, I think this is not the right time to request an increment

      15 days ago
    • Unless you are top management that is. Then its the best time to pull a quick raise.

        14 days ago
    • Agreed, I was literally planning my approach of this conversation before all this kicked off. Knocked back my plans abit now

        14 days ago