How to ask for a pay rise

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Asking for a raise can be one of the scariest things you can do at work, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve asked three experts for their advice on how best to back yourself.

Wendy Syfret, is the head of at Vice Media Australia and is passionate about demystifying the pay-rise process. Before you start the conversation, she stresses, it’s important to work out what you think you are worth in the first place.

“I figure the world is going to put a price tag on you, so you may as well beat them to it.”

She notes that employers are investing not just in your current role, but your potential. “As long as you’re working hard, and always trying to grow in your job, you should always see yourself as their professional investment.”

Claire Hooper. Photo: James Penlidis

Claire Hooper. Photo: James Penlidis

Claire Hooper, host of ABC financial literacy podcast The Pineapple Project, says that valuing yourself highly can send a positive message to your employer.

“If you can confidently quote a large number, sometimes people will find it reassuring that you believe you’re worth that much.”

So, how do you build your case for earning more money?

Syfret recommends writing a position description for the role you’re currently doing, then comparing it to what you were originally hired for. Chances are you’re doing things that require a more complex skill-set.

“You will probably see a lot of variations, which can build the spine of your case.”

Carly Jacobs, co-host of the self-improvement podcast Straight and Curly, agrees that documentation is key. She notes that managers want proof that their investment will bring a return.

“If you can show them you’re a good investment, there’s no need to worry about asking for more money.”

And if your request for money doesn’t work out?

There could be unexpected benefits. Just by proposing to have the conversation, you’ve brought yourself to the attention of higher-ups, who might think of you when other opportunities at work arise.

“You’ve gone in; you’ve shown that you are certain about your own value to the company, and that you’re interested in more,” Hooper notes. “You’ve said so much about your attitude towards your own work by asking for one [pay rise].”

Jacobs says that you should feel comfortable asking why the request was rejected.

“Ask your manager for a detailed reason that the pay rise was knocked back.” There may be external reasons: a company-wide salary freeze, for example.

“It’s also important to phrase your questions as solutions. ‘Why didn’t I get a pay rise?’ is a confrontational way of getting information. A better way to ask would be ‘Can you give some advice on how to improve so my next pay rise is accepted?’.”

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Why can talking about money be so awkward?

Hooper notes that, culturally, we’ve been taught that it’s a bit impolite to talk about money.

She says confidence is the key. “We should really back ourselves more.”

Whatever the outcome of the discussion, Syfret notes that we should stop thinking that it’s somehow wrong to ask your boss for more money.

“I always remind myself that people in positions of power speak about money all the time. This is natural for them.”

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