In Depth

How to ask your boss for a pay rise

Do your research and make sure you are setting out your value to the company

The recent pay revelations from the BBC last week have left everyone talking about money. 

All this talk about such high levels of pay - the revelations only covered those on more than £150,000 - has probably left you wondering if you are underpaid. But feeling you're owed more and getting it are two very different things. 

Here’s how to talk wages with your boss and ask for a pay rise.

Do your research

Before you do talk to your boss you need to have an idea of what you feel you should be paid. We’d all love a BBC star-esque six-figure salary, but it might not be realistic for your job.

To get the clearest idea of what you should be paid you could ask some of your colleagues what they are paid, but we’re British and that conversation may not be easy.

If you can’t pluck up the courage to talk cash with your colleagues another option is to look at adverts for similar jobs to your own to see what competitors are paying. You can also get an idea of the average salary for your job on websites such as wageindicator.co.uk.

You could also speak to your HR department to find out how pay increases are calculated at your company.

Pick your moment

Timing when to talk your boss is essential, choose the busiest moment in their week and you are unlikely to succeed. Also avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons as you are unlikely to catch your boss at their best, or have their full attention. After lunch is usually a good time.

Schedule a meeting with your boss – that way you are less likely to be interrupted – and consider whether you want to give them advance warning that you want to discuss your salary.

Word yourself carefully

Do not announce that you are underpaid and try to avoid confrontation. Instead set out the reasons why you feel you deserve more pay – times when you’ve gone above and beyond your job description, or how you are meeting and surpassing the tasks you are set. Your aim is to show your value to your company.

Take rejection well

If your boss doesn’t offer you a pay rise, listen to the reasons why, it could be they give you tips on what you need to do to make yourself more valuable. Ask whether there is extra training or responsibilities you could take on to improve your chances of a pay rise in the future.

Keep calm even if you are furious, if you don’t agree with the decision this could be the time to quietly start looking for a new job but don’t quit in a fit of rage.

It isn’t all about money

You may not be able to increase your salary at the moment, but there are other ways you can improve your job, your work/life balance and your net income.

If your boss says no to a pay rise ask about working more flexible hours, so you can avoid expensive peak-time commuting or working from home one day a week to cut your travel costs.

Get it in writing

Whatever the outcome of the meeting, it’s a good idea to get it in writing. If your boss agreed to increase your salary, send them an email setting out what you agreed. If your boss didn’t give you a pay rise then ask what you can do to improve and when you could try again for a pay rise, and again, put that in writing.

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