How to Get a Pay Raise

Imagine the situation. You’re doing well in your job and you’ve been there for a while. You think that it’s a good time to ask your boss for a pay raise (or “pay rise” in British English). So how can you ask? Here’s our four-point guide with useful phrases for getting a pay raise.

1. Do your research

First of all, get an approximate idea of how much your job pays in similar organisations in your industry. If your current pay is a lot under the average for a similar job with similar responsibilities, you should definitely ask your manager for a meeting.

Then, think about the value that you bring your company. What have you done in the last year that has made an impact? How have you managed to make money for the company, reduce costs, or make efficiency savings? For example, have you increased profits, streamlined processes or saved the company money?

Or have you done more than what’s on your job description? Perhaps you’ve taken on new responsibilities, started to supervise other people, or got involved in major projects. Maybe you’ve learned something new and valuable or solved a particular problem that will benefit the organisation later on.

If you haven’t done any of these things yet, think about how you work. Do you do your job better or faster than anyone else in the department, or better than your predecessor, for example?

If you can answer yes to any of the ideas above (and you have proof), then you have a business case to ask for a pay raise. It’s important that you base your request on your performance as an employee – not on why you need extra money.

Have a specific increase in mind that will reward your contributions and responsibilities. If you think your boss is unlikely to give you extra money, think about perks you could ask for instead, such as extra holiday, training, health or child care or flexible working.

2. Ask for the meeting

Timing is everything. Don’t ask your manager at the end of the day or when he / she has just come out of an important meeting. Instead, ask for a meeting to discuss it.

Here are some expressions you can use:

“Would you have time to talk to me later this week / in the next couple of days?”
“Do you think we could have a discussion in the next couple of days?”
“I was wondering if you had a couple of minutes to discuss something with me.”

If your boss asks “What about?” you can reply:

“I’d like to discuss my pay / salary / compensation package / contract with you.”
“I’d like to ask you about a pay / salary increase.”
“I’d like to talk to you about my future here.”

Remember that some organisations (particularly in the public sector) decide their pay rises nationally, and there isn’t any room for discussion on amounts.

3. Make your case for a pay raise

When you have your meeting with your manager, remember to give a good business reason for your pay raise. (See Step 1 above.) Here are some things you can say:

“This year I’ve brought in 5 new customers, which has increased our revenue by (10%).”
“In the last six months I’ve reorganised the department / streamlined our order processing, which has resulted in savings of 10%.”
“I’ve consistently exceeded all my sales targets this year and made a profit of over 15%.”
“These last few months I’ve taken on extra responsibilities to reduce our overheads. This has resulted in savings of over $500 every month.”
“This year I’ve become much more proficient with website coding, which means we haven’t needed to outsource this work to a developer. I calculate that I’ve been able to save the company $5000 so far.”

“For this reason, I’d like to discuss the possibility of a pay rise / raise / salary increase / salary review.”
“I’d like to ask you for a pay rise / raise / salary increase / salary review to reflect my performance / my contribution.”

Ask for a specific amount:
“I’m looking for an increase of 5%.”

… “It reflects the extra profit I have made for the company / the savings that I have made / the new accounts I have brought to the company.”

You can then point out what similar jobs pay for someone at your level.

“At the moment, a job with my level of responsibilities pays around $50,000 a year.”
“Similar roles pay a range of (amount) to (amount).”
“From my research into similar companies, a salesperson bringing in this amount of revenue earns around …”

Then ask:
“Could the company match that?”

4. Be professional

If your boss says “no”, don’t threaten to leave. Ask when you can talk again or what you need to do to be considered for a pay raise.

“Oh, I see.”
“Well, that’s a little disappointing.”

“When could we discuss this again?”
“Can we review this in the next six months?”
“What would I need to do to be considered for a pay raise in the next six months?”

Or you could say:
“I understand that finances are difficult. Can we discuss non-salary perks?”

Make a note of what your manager says, so you have something to refer to later.

Cultural tips

– There’s a fine line between highlighting your achievements and boasting. Be as objective as possible during the meeting to let the facts and figures impress your boss.

– Don’t get upset if your boss rejects your request. Use one of the phrases above to show that you are committed to the company and to improving your performance as much as possible.

– Don’t threaten to leave or to suggest another company has given you a better offer. It can sound like blackmail and make you look unprofessional.

Adapted from my new book Business English ESL

This book has all the phrases you need to succeed in English and to make a great impression in every work situation. It’s for anyone who works in an English-speaking office, or deals with English-speaking colleagues anywhere in the world.

You’ll learn how to:

Answer difficult English questions at interviews to land a great job
Impress your boss, expand your role and get a promotion
Speak up in meetings so your ideas get heard and you get credit
Socialize and network in English with ease
Delegate work, give feedback and manage people and projects in ways that get you respect
Deal with difficult colleagues to repair bad situations and build great working relationships