How to ask for a pay rise?

You seem to have the perfect job: the people are great; the location is convenient; and the hours suit your lifestyle. So why are you checking the online job ads?

For many, the belief that we’re not paid what we could, or should, be paid is common. Not knowing what to do about it is equally common.

We keep our concerns to ourselves because the thought of requesting a pay rise is so daunting, we don’t know where to start.

If you’re nodding right now, read on as we provide a few tips for navigating the pay-rise minefield.


Do your homework! The government’s Fair Work Ombudsman website is a great place to start. Check out for information and calculators to help you work out what you should be earning.

Hop onto online job-seeker sites and find out what others in comparable roles are being paid. Take into account skill levels, experience and tertiary qualifications.

Now, consider your company’s internal policies and think about:

  • the company’s scheduled performance and salary reviews and time your request appropriately
  • company pay scales and whether you can move upwards incrementally
  • where your role sits on the company pay scale

Armed with these details, it’s time to prepare your approach. Firstly, think about timing, for example are you coming up for an employment anniversary?

Next, break your conversation into three parts:

Part 1: Prepare the conversation

Ensure you:

  • book a time and place to meet – you’ll need about a half hour without interruption
  • be clear about wanting a review of your salary and what your expectations are. Be realistic though, otherwise you won’t be taken seriously.

Part 2: The conversation

During the conversation with your manager:

  • thank them for their time
  • say how long you’ve been working there
  • summarise your responsibilities and your achievements
  • articulate what you bring to the role

Part 3: After the conversation

It’s likely your boss won’t give you a decision on the spot so be prepared for them to get back to you.

Back at your desk:

  • email to thank them again
  • reiterate your key points
  • book a calendar appointment for any follow-up meetings.

If you’re successful, get the details of your pay increase in writing. Clarify how much it will be and when it will commence.

If your request is declined, consider other forms of recognition such as time off in lieu or bonuses. Alternatively, try suggesting your request is revisited, in say, three or six months.

Remuneration for a job is linked to feeling respected and valued, so it’s hard not to be emotional. Saying things like, “I’ll leave if …” is a big no-no. Nobody reacts well to ultimatums.

Enter all discussions well-prepared. Keep the discussion professional and articulate your request succinctly and factually. This way, you’ll be giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

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