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How to ask for a pay rise

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Asking for a pay rise is never easy

Many people find it awkward. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A successful salary increase request requires preparation – here's how to equip yourself for this conversation.  
Our Hays Salary Guide demonstrates that the overall value of pay rises is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. This means you need to have this challenging conversation with your boss to improve your take home pay and career development opportunities. In the very first instance, check what your organisation’s pay review schedule is with HR and circumstances that will accelerate that process. 

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Learn how to ask for a pay rise

Learn how to ask for a pay rise from the experts at Hays in this online video. Discover practical tips and advice to further your career in New Zealand today. 

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To help you successfully prepare for your pay rise request, here’s a six-point plan:  

1. Prepare your evidence  

For your salary increase request to be successful, you need to first and foremost demonstrate to your boss why you deserve the raise.

It’s not enough to talk about the rising cost of living. Instead, you need to ensure you have specific and quantifiable evidence to present to your boss when asking for salary increases.  
Start by asking yourself what you’ve achieved since your last pay increase that warrants a raise today? Prepare a list of your recent achievements that exceed your objectives.It may help to look back at your last performance review or your original job description. Then list any changed or rising work volumes or duties you’re now undertaking and extra projects you’ve been involved in.  
For each accomplishment, align it with how it benefitted the organisation. The aim here is to provide strong evidence to justify a pay rise, so focus on outcomes. For example, perhaps you have brought in 22 per cent more business year-on-year, are managing a 25 per cent increase in the overall volume of work or were involved in a project that exceeded objectives.

Be proud of your work and include examples of achievements that you are particularly pleased with, too. This can include a major milestone you achieved, successful teamwork, or a process improvement that has long-term benefits.

Whatever evidence you gather, remember to demonstrate the greater value you now bring to your employer.  

2. Research comparable salaries  

Next, research the salary you feel your performance and results are worth by reviewing recent salary guides in New Zealand. This enables you to back up your request with evidence from the current market and demonstrate that the salary you are asking for is in line with your market value.

Our Hays Salary Checker is a quick and easy tool that helps you understand typical salaries and your potential earnings based on your job title and location.

3. Set an in-person or video meeting and keep your composure  

Once you are ready, ask your manager for a meeting to review your salary. It’s important not to spring this meeting on your boss. Instead, book a time with your manager and state that the objective of your meeting request is to present your case for a salary review.  
When it comes time for the meeting, maintain a professional manner. Take control but remain approachable and calm. Avoid becoming emotional and don’t discuss any personal reasons for why you might need extra money. Instead, present the business evidence you’ve gathered to support your pay rise request. If you’ve gathered appropriate proof, your grounds for an increase will be hard to ignore. Document your evidence to help keep your boss from altering the trajectory of the meeting. If you are feeling nervous, it will also provide you with notes to refer to so you do not forget to present all your points.  
Don’t expect an answer straight away when asking for a pay rise. In all likelihood, your boss will need to review their budget, talk to HR and draft the necessary documentation before a potential pay rise becomes official.  
At the end of the meeting, let your boss know that you’ll follow up with an email summing up your request. Your email should be a clear, concise and accurate representation of the main points you presented and discussed. This provides a written record of the conversation and ensures there’s no room for confusion or misunderstanding.

4. This is a two-way conversation  

Entering the meeting with lofty expectations of big increases could put your manager on the back foot. You want to elicit a positive reaction from your manager when asking for a pay rise, so present your reasons from the outset, and then actively listen to their feedback.

You will have your own points you want to get across but be mindful that it is a conversation, and your manager may have valuable feedback for you that can be used to work towards in the future.  

5. Be willing to negotiate  

Your boss may want to negotiate the value of your salary increase, so be prepared to discuss the salary you feel your results are worth. Throughout this discussion, remember your justifications for asking for a pay rise in the first place.
Also, consider how much you are willing to compromise – it can help to have a salary range in mind instead of a singular figure, with a top and a bottom amount that you think would be fair.

6. Have a contingency plan  

You should also have a fall-back position in case your employer cannot afford to increase your salary at this point in time. For example, can you agree on a date for another pay review in three or six months? Or could your boss instead offer additional benefits, such as paying for additional study or membership of a professional body, or providing you with extra annual leave?  
Above all, use your accomplishments and the value you add as the basis of your pay rise request.

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How to ask for a raise with another job offer  

A tactic that’s often used to negotiate a pay rise is to leverage a job offer from another organisation. This can be risky because, even when going about it professionally, you are essentially threatening to leave unless your employer awards you a higher salary.  
Some argue that this tactic is inherently unethical, while others say there’s a time and place for leveraging another offer when your reasonable requests for a pay rise have been repeatedly denied.  
If your employer won’t budge on your salary despite your best efforts, it may be time to consider your options externally. 

Consider upskilling  

Learning new skills demonstrates to your employer that you’re not just committed to excelling at your current job, but you’re eager to enhance your usefulness. Achieving a pay rise is often considerably easier if you take on greater responsibility thanks to the additional training you’ve undertaken. Hays Learning offers free learning resources that can help you upskill to remain competitive in your industry.  

Ready to ask for your next pay rise?  

Following these tips on how to ask for a pay rise will help ensure you’re adequately prepared for your next salary discussion and make the best case possible. Remember to project confidence and, no matter what happens, maintain a positive, professional attitude. Good luck!