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How to get a pay rise – 10 steps to ensure your success

13–15 minutes to read

The single biggest lever you can pull to improve your finances is to get a pay rise and earn more money.

So, we’ve focused this article on 10 top tips on how to get a pay rise and increase your income. Getting a pay rise is important as you can only cut your expenses so far and so the ‘gap’ can only be so big. Conversely, with earnings, that gap can be bigger. And whilst it may take a bit longer than simply cancelling your Netflix subscription,  there is no theoretical limit on your increasing income.

Of course, there are practical limits based on your career path, employer and personal circumstances. This article will help you maximise your earning potential so you can break through to the next level.

The quicket way to get a 'pay rise'

You can actually give yourself a pay rise by sorting out your budget. And it’s also the quickest way to free up some cash.

I know, I know, budgets can be boring. But seriously, you should check this out. Cutting unnecessary expenses and direct debits can easily and quickly give you breathing space.

It’s a great idea to get your budget in order first. If you want to see how I budget without boring spreadsheets then check out How to budget like a pro in seven simple steps.

Plus, pay rises not a shortcut. They can be difficult to come by. You’ll need to work hard and look to constantly improve your personal skills. Fundamentally, if you are one of the top performers in your team or business, then asking for a rise will be much easier for you to justify.

Heads up – We aim to produce honest and accurate content, however, we are not financial advisors. If you need financial advice, Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Some of our links may earn us a small commission to help us run the site.

How to get a pay rise - Salary increase chart

1. Do your homework

Asking for a salary review or pay rise can be nerve-wracking. So, before you approach your boss, make sure you do some homework. Check out similar roles in your company or others like yours. Look not just at the basic salary, but the package as a whole. This may include overtime, pension contributions and bonuses.

The key here is to provide tangible evidence to support your case.

You can review similar jobs on LinkedIn or see other people’s salaries on Glassdoor

Next, cross-check your skills with the jobs on offer. Do you have the right experience or qualifications to do the role? If so, great, it’s a good comparison. Don’t worry if you don’t check all the competencies as long as you can do 60-75% of them at a minimum. Remember, you are only using them as a benchmark.

Your homework should show you other roles that you could do and the pay that’s offered to external candidates. Write down a list of at least three other comparable job ads that pay what you are looking for.

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2. Mentally prepare

Many people are nervous about asking for a pay rise. That’s ok, it’s alright to be nervous. Just remember, your boss is a person just like you. It’s part of their job to keep you happy.

A boss whose staff are performing should expect employees to expect to be rewarded. Furthermore, if you are making your boss look good, then it can help them justify a pay rise!

Just remember why you are doing this. Pay rises, especially large ones, don’t just fall in your lap. You have to be prepared to put yourself out there and ask for what you think you deserve. The worse they can say is no.

3. Be realistic

Review your personal performance over the last few years. Have you received praise or recognition for your work? Have you been told you are doing a good job? Are you out-performing your colleagues?

Answering yes to these puts you in a good position. But if you are not hitting these criteria then you need to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, am I worth more money to this company?

This isn’t a personal self-worth question, but rather one specific to you as an employee in that role. If you bring a higher value to the business than your colleague,s then you have a good case as to why they should pay you more.

Just don’t let thoughts of grandeur get the better of you. If someone else can do the role for cheaper then why would they pay you more? You need to be confident that you can explain why.

For more money Mindset hacks, check out
How to Control Your Ego and Create Wealth 

4. Fail to prepare then prepare to fail

If you want a pay rise, then you’re going to have to build a solid case to back up your ambitions. Make a bullet-pointed list that you can take with you into your meeting. Your case for higher pay needs to be based on facts, not emotions.

Make a list of any of the following points that you feel prove you are doing a good job:

  • Feedback from customers, suppliers and staff.
  • Recent successful projects their outcomes and value to the business.
  • Professional qualifications or training achieved.
  • Sales, targets, quotas that have been met. If possible, associate a monetary value to the business for htese.
  • The total value of income that you have helped achieve (such as a sales-based role).
  • Anything that you’ve done to save time or money and make efficiencies.

Be specific

Be specific in your examples. Such as:

  • Last month I won three new contracts that totalled £500k in revenue over three years
  • Customer X has agreed to a case study which can be on our website
  • Helped the accounts team build a spreadsheet for the manual task that took Bob two days to complete each month.
  • Successfully rolled out project Y and our customer has expressed their thanks.
  • Renegotiated our X contract reducing the invoice by 10% or £100k per year.
How to get a pay rise - prepare a checklist

5. Are you happy?

We sometimes feel that we are not adequately rewarded for our time. However, this can cover up the fact that we are not actually truly happy in our role.

For example, if you did your dream job 60 hours a week, would you feel quite so aggrieved? Ask yourself, even if you do negotiate a pay rise, will you be happy and will it last?

This is the soul searching moment where we should reflect on our current workplace/role. Don’t be afraid of changing jobs. Often, moving companies and possibly up a role level can lead to the biggest pay rises.

There is little point in trying to earn more money in a company or role that is stealing your happiness. Money can only take you so far. Remember, more money doesn’t necessarily equal greater happiness.

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6. Pick the right time

Timing is equally as important as preparing. A natural time, if your company operates them, is to pick your annual performance review. Your boss should be prepared for this on the agenda and should be expecting you to talk about salary.

If you don’t have a review coming up or they are not regularly scheduled, then pick an appropriate time base on your company. Have you recently won a big contract, hit target or successfully delivered a big project? Great. This is a perfect time, as companies are usually on a high and you have evidence.

On the flip side, if your company is struggling, there may have been redundancies. Or you have lost a significant contract or customer. That’s the time to avoid. If there is too much negative news then be prepared to wait or look for other employment.

But remember, don’t get stuck waiting for a time that will never come.

7. Give your boss time to prepare

It’s good etiquette to allow your boss or company to prepare for a pay review. Springing a request out of the blue will put people on the back foot and will not usually lead to a favourable response.

They will need time to prepare, as they may need to check your full package, benefits and performance against your colleagues or the market. Giving your boss time to do this research may also make them realise that you are in fact worth more. Sometimes they are simply too busy spinning many plates

When requesting a review, be clear that you would like a salary review to be included. Give some brief reasons. Here is a suggested email, but it could be a conversation.

“Hi Brian,

I’ve been with Eat Sleep Money for five years now and have seen the company continue to thrive. I’d like to chat with you about my current role and salary and set out some future goals for my career. I’m free next Wednesday to chat if that works for you.

Chris”

Make sure you are clear about what you want to talk about. If your boss is too busy, then ask when will be a good time and suggest some alternative times when you are free.

8. Be clear with what you want

This is the moment you’ve been preparing for. It’s the big meeting and it’s time to be really clear with what you expect.

Personally, I like to ask a few questions first. I think of this as setting the scene. You could ask for feedback on how your performance and what they think you need to improve. This gives you an early indication of your plans chance of success.

If you are getting negative vibes instead of positive ones, then ask what you need to improve or what would it take to get a pay rise. Make this measurable and suggest a timeline. For example; “So if I hit X target within three months, we can agree an £X salary increase?”.

Go in with your goals written down. It’s good to also have a list of compromises. Work out what you ‘must have’ and what are ‘nice to haves’ that you can forgo if you get your ‘must have’.

You want to be collaborative and also supportive of your boss. Sometimes their hands are tied, so you may need to ask questions about how you can get what you want.

Here are some examples that you can use:

  • £2,000 pay rise to bring your salary in line with the market rate.
  • 2 days additional holiday to match other employers in your sector.
  • Flexible working or compressed hours.
  • Company car or car allowance.
  • Larger bonus.
  • Private healthcare or dental plans.
How to get a pay rise - hand holding cash

9. Be prepared to compromise

The type of company you work for will typically decide how much flexibility a manager has when negotiating a pay rise.

Larger corporate companies usually band people into tiers and fix salaries and benefits based on your level in the company. If you work for a smaller business then you may find more flexibility.

Put yourself in your bosses shoes and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the things you are asking for reasonable?
  • Is this something my boss can offer?
  • Do other employees get something similar?

If you are answering ‘no’, then you may want to reconsider your requests.

Once you have laid out your case, let them digest it. You may not get a positive answer right there and then and they may have to check if they can offer you what you want.

Be gracious and thank them for listening. If you don’t get an answer, then make sure you set the time and date for the next meeting to discuss your pay rise.

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10. Get it written down

Once you have agreed a pay rise or additional benefits, make sure you get it written down and your contract updated. If your boss is not forthcoming with this request, then compose and send a summary email of what has been agreed.

Didn't get what you want?

Don’t worry, it’s common to be turned down. The good news is that this situation can be temporary.

Make sure you get specific feedback as to why and agree specifics about what would enable a pay rise. This will give you something to focus on improving.

Alternatively, you may have learned that you won’t be getting a pay rise any time soon. This can help you decide if it’s time to seek an alternative employer. At least you know where you now stand.

If you want to stay at your employer, then work with your manager to create a list of skills that would lead to a pay rise. This could be passing professional qualifications or learning new skills. Get your manager to be clear on how much of a pay rise you will get for achieving these results. There would be nothing worse than working really hard only to find out that the pay rise wasn’t worth it.

You did! What next?

Getting a pay rise is great. If you’ve followed the steps and bagged yourself some extra cash, congratulations! So, what are you going to do with it?

Technically, the best thing is to allocate all of it towards clearing debt,  building your emergency fund, then investing. Lifestyle creep and spending all that extra cash is one of the biggest drains on becoming financially healthy.

OK, so there’s also an argument that what’s logically right is also not the most motivating. Perhaps consider allocating a one-off payment to yourself as fun money. Or if it’s a regular monthly amount, allocate 20% to yourself as disposable income and save/clear debt with the rest.

If you are thinking about how best to propel your financial fitness, why not consider working towards Financial Independence.

Time is the biggest dividend money can buy

Putting your money to work to generate even more cash can be even better than any pay rise you’ll ever get. Imagine the freedom of never having to work again! Time is the biggest dividend money can buy.

Well, that’s what people chasing Financial Independence are aiming for and you could too.

Alternatively, if these goals are too lofty and you want something to get you started then check out the articles below. We hope you love them.

Summary

Getting a pay rise can be tricky but preparing yourself in advance will ensure you don’t lose your cool in the heat of the moment. It will give you a clear plan and a list of reasons why you deserve to earn more.

However, it’s important to remember that businesses rarely reward loyalty. You may feel wedded to a company but many businesses don’t usually feel the same way. This isn’t personal it’s just what happens in business. Ensure that you don’t take it personally if you do get knocked back.

Resilience is the key to pursuing a successful pay rise. Make sure you know what you need to do to earn more cash for yourself and your family. If you would like more help, please join our Free UK Personal Finance Club over on Facebook. It’s a supportive community of like-minded people all looking to improve their financial prowess. I’d love to see you there.

Here’s to Financial Fitness

EatSleepMoney.co.uk does not offer financial advice and is intended for reference/information only. Remember, you should always carry out your own research and/or take specific professional advice before choosing any financial products or services or undertaking any business or financial venture. If you need financial advice Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Investments may go up as well as down and you may get back less than you put in.