How to ask for a pay rise

If you’ve been in your job a while and your salary has stayed the same, it might be time to have a chat with your boss about a pay rise. You may have even taken on additional responsibilities, or become a mentor for a newer member of staff, which definitely requires an increase in salary. The Mix explains how to ask for a pay rise.

A young woman is making a presentation. She is asking for a pay rise. This is a wide-angle image.

How should I approach my boss to ask for a pay rise?

It’s a much more complicated and skilful process than you might think. Rather than cornering your boss in the lift or directly after your performance review, book a separate appointment to see them. That way you have time to develop a strong business case for your pay rise. Denise Taylor, author of How to Get a Job in a Recession, says you should do your research and be well prepared. “The research needs to include being clear on what you’re doing in your job and also what other people earn for similar roles. Make sure to have some data to back up what you’re saying.” she says.

Body language is key when having these types of conversations. Sit up straight and make eye contact. If you’re looking for more advice, our tips for interview body language should help.

What reasons should I give for deserving a higher salary?

First things first. Be honest with yourself and figure out why you think you deserve a pay rise. Steer clear of explanations which involve simply needing more money to pay your bills or go on holiday. You need to ask for more money in the context of what you bring to the company.

Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential (a company that aims to help people reach their potential at work) says: “Arm yourself with concrete evidence. Give specific examples of your achievements where your performance has had a direct benefit on the organisation, e.g. helping increase sales or improve customer relationships.”

How much should I ask for?

How to ask for a pay rise in the UK? DON’T unless you’ve done your homework.

Websites such as and’s salary checker can tell you the industry average salary for your job. It’s also worth starting some subtle investigations to find out what your colleagues are earning. When negotiating, don’t be afraid to start off with a relatively high figure – that way there’s plenty of room for negotiation. “Asking for a raise of £1,000 sounds like a lot, but if you asked for 50p an hour it seems much more reasonable,” says Denise.

If another job has offered you a position and a better salary you should use that as a negotiating tool. Never threaten to leave if your request is turned down though – unless you actually plan on carrying that through.

What else can I ask for as well as a pay rise?

Don’t forget about benefits when it comes to discussing a salary increase. If your negotiations aren’t going particularly well, don’t panic. Just try changing the conversation to added benefits that your boss could give you. For example, flexible working, corporate gym membership or more holiday entitlement. That way your boss won’t have to worry about finances too much and you still get rewarded for your stellar work. Or, if you both agree that a pay rise is manageable, you could ask for some extra perks to sweeten the deal. Make sure you read the room before you do though.

How do I negotiate a pay rise?

Kevin Dougall, managing director of graduate recruitment and training consultancy Tom Gibson, says good negotiation skills are essential when you’re asking for more cash. “Perhaps the most important thing for young people to learn about negotiating is developing awareness, patience and good communication skills,” he says. “Be patient and accept that there may not be an instant result. Listen hard and watch body language. One of the pillars of communication, and therefore negotiation, is to be a good listener.”

In order to develop these skills, we’d recommend practicing. Try laying out your argument to a friend. Speak slowly and deliberately as you present your case. Writing a script could also be a good way of remembering the points you want to make. Just make sure you leave it on your desk before you go into their office.

When it’s time to negotiate, offering to take on more responsibility could help to build your case, bearing in mind that you might actually be taken up on that offer. Ask whether there are additional tasks you could take on or junior members of staff you could mentor. You could even try asking if there’s a better job title available. By doing this, you’re adding more justification for your request for a raise. 

What to do if you’re turned down a pay rise

If your request for a pay rise is turned down, you should always ask for reasons why. In the current economic climate it might simply be that the company can’t afford it. If that’s the case, then you know that it had nothing to do with your negotiating skills.

If the answer is more personal, ask what you need to do to secure a pay increase, and how you go about achieving this. At best, this’ll give you some clear objectives going forward; something to measure your progress against. At worst, it’ll identify whether or not you should be looking at job adverts to kickstart your new career. 

Have you got some tips for how to ask for a pay rise? Share them with the community on our discussion boards.

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work pay

By Emma Lunn

Updated on 06-Feb-2022