How to ask for a pay rise

Written by Lori Campbell on 19th Feb 2020

It’s well-known that women earn far less than men. In fact, women with a university degree earn less on average than men who didn’t complete their ‘A’ Levels.

But now a new report has revealed that a lack of confidence in asking for a pay rise could be holding women back even further.

The study, by flexible office specialists Instant Offices, found that less than half of women (43 per cent) feel comfortable asking their boss for an increase compared with 64 per cent of men. It’s a long-standing issue with most women (55 per cent) saying they have never negotiated their salary. Meanwhile only 40 per cent of men have never approached the issue with their boss.

The majority of women (56 per cent) are more like to negotiate hours than pay, compared to 41 per cent of their male counterparts.

With average wages now rising at a faster rate than inflation, it could be the perfect time to ask for what you deserve at work.

If you don’t feel you’re earning the money you should be – or as much as men doing the same job as you – don’t keep quiet – there’s no harm in asking (if you do it in the right way).

Here are a few top tips for putting your case forward:


1. Be diplomatic and give reasons

Avoid saying “I want” or “I deserve” a pay rise. These phrases won’t start you off on a good footing, especially if you can’t prove your worth to your employer.

Make a list of the reasons why it would be in your manager’s best interest to pay you more. Put an emphasis on your ability and what you can bring to the department and company.


2. Meet in person

Always have the conversation in person. Start by sending an email to your manager outlining your request and suggesting a date to meet and discuss things in full. If you catch them unawares, they won’t have time to prepare. They may need to talk to the finance team before making a decision, or even consider promoting you to a more senior role.


3. Don’t threaten to leave, unless you are prepared to

Unless you have another job offer lined up, it is not sensible to threaten to quit. Your employer could say ‘no’ and you would have no other card to play. This could result in long-term doubt about your loyalty to the company.


4. Do your research and be realistic

Take a look at the average wage within your industry and field so you can set a realistic benchmark. Remember though, that this is just an average. Roles and responsibilities always differ and will affect salary, as will experience.


5. Think about the timing

If your company has just announced its budgets, restructuring or cuts, it may not be the best time to ask for a rise. You don’t have to wait for your annual review, or even a pay review, just choose a suitable time when there isn’t significant pressure on your manager or the business as a whole.


6. Be confident

Asking for a pay rise can be unnerving. Plan ahead and possibly even write a script and run through it with a friend so you are prepared for how the conversation might go. This could ease any anxiety and give you the confidence to make eye contact and present your points clearly.


7. Make it more than just money

Although it is essentially a conversation about pay, try to also make it about your career. Focus on career progression, training and other possible perks as these show you are invested in the company and not just looking for more cash.


Workers who: Men Women
Feel comfortable asking for an increase 64% 43%
Have never negotiated their salary 40% 55%
Are more likely to negotiate working hours than pay 41% 56%
Are more likely to negotiate on specific parts of a job 55% 42%


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