Asking for a pay rise – the four P’s

Norah Breekveldt explains how to ask your boss for a pay rise in four simple steps.

Q. I have been working in the same job for some years now. I am not looking for a promotion, however, over time I have become much faster at my work and I have gained many new skills. I think I deserve to be paid more than when I started, but my boss has not offered me a pay rise. How can I bring this up and ask for one?

A. If you think of the most stressful conversations you can have with your boss, asking for a pay rise is near the top of the list. So how can you ask for pay rise without becoming overly nervous?

Why not start by practising and applying Career Doctor Norah’s four P’s?

The first and biggest P is PREPARE. All companies have different ways of reviewing pay. Be clear about your company guidelines. Is it a formal, annual process, or do pay-rises happen at any time? Is it linked to performance or to length of service? Timing is everything. Don’t miss out because you mistimed your request!

Find out if there is a fixed budget for pay increases – such as a zero to five per cent range – or is there more discretion? Are there pay ranges for your particular role? Where does your pay sit in the range – at the top, bottom or middle?

Also, decide whether your current salary is fair. Ask others in similar roles to yours what they get paid, and explore salary data in the market. Many recruitment agencies supply salary data – just search the internet under ‘salary surveys’ to find them (or follow the links provided below).

Then collect examples of all the times when you put in extra effort, when you exceeded expectations and when you received praise from others. Your chances of receiving a pay rise increase substantially when you are able to prove that you are productive, valued by others, your duties or responsibilities have significantly expanded and your efforts have led to improved performance.

Finally, give your manager advance notice that you want to talk to him or her about a pay rise and make a time in both your diaries for the discussion.

The second P is PITCH. Write down your script – why you think a pay rise is warranted in non-emotional terms, using the facts you have gathered. Keep it short – it should take no more than five minutes to read out aloud.

The third P is PRACTICE. Your mirror is your friend! Practise in front of the mirror at least 10 times, then throw away the script. Or try your pitch with a friend or partner and ask him or her for honest feedback. If you have thoroughly practised what you want to say, you will feel confident, not stumble while making your request, or forget important points and you will also look professional – a good introduction to the fourth P.

The fourth P is for PROFESSIONAL. A professional approach means sticking to the facts, not becoming emotional, and approaching the discussion as a two-way conversation. Be friendly rather than aggressive. If your boss says no, ask for reasons and also ask him or her how your work could support a pay rise in the future, and when you should ask again.

So get motivated, and prepare for that tricky conversation. Not only will you be proud of yourself once you’ve secured pay rise, others will admire you for possessing the self-confidence and poise to ask for what you want.


Here are three sites which offer free salary information: