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The best strategy for getting a raise

Posted on 19 October 2022

The best strategy for getting a raise

​8-minute read

Time to handle the taboo of salary discussions. It is without question, the easiest way to get a pay rise is often by changing companies, this is documented heavily on LinkedIn with some wild percentages, but the essence is if you want a substantial pay rise change companies.

However not everyone wants to change companies, plenty of you reading this article are likely very happy with your current team, project, set-up and instead would prefer to receive a raise than switch organisations completely.

If you find yourself here, then this article will be for you.

The process of requesting a raise is not simple. You work with your manager daily, you have a relationship you might not want to be tarnished with a dark cloud of money talks, coupled with the general approach of asking someone for more money can make anyone’s skin crawl, even if you truly deserve it.

What I aim to do during this article is explain how you can ask for a raise the correct way, how to come across in a professional manner that shows your manager you have given your impact to the business much thought with the idea that by the end of the last step, you will have positioned yourself in the best possible way to get what you want (or at the very least a follow-up meeting to discuss further).


Earning a raise

The first thing to consider is that you get a raise by earning a raise. This takes time, it takes patience and above all, it takes consistency in your approach. You want to highlight to the right people the good work you are doing so that either when the time comes for you to make your request the obvious answer is ‘yes’ or with a bit of luck, management beats you to the request and offers it before you ask.


How to earn a raise

If your organisation has a rubric, you might have a head start here. To find out if they do, speak with HR or with your manager in general about career paths and request to see the criteria for each opportunity within your field.

The key here is to not ask for the salary bands, instead indicate more towards the responsibilities and experience required, knowing these will help you plan your personal development to the next level which in theory would come with the relevant pay rise.

If your organisation doesn’t have a rubric, it is still possible to understand what knowledge and experience are required for your next step by looking at others within the organisation, seeking counsel from peers in other companies or having an honest chat with your manager.

I cannot stress this enough, do not bring forward the topic of money yet… it will cause doubt over your intentions for the rest of the process.

Now the above is focused around developing yourself for the next promotion, but pay rises can happen without promotion, so whilst developing yourself against the determined areas you can also focus on:

Becoming productive

Leaders of all the companies I have worked with value return on investment. This doesn’t mean how many hours you are sitting at your desk to prove you are working but instead what results you achieve from the work you put in.

How productive are you when you are working?

Make your working day count, tackle the right tasks that will push you and your work forward and let the results speak for you.


Solving problems

If you are a long way off from hitting a promotion, consider identifying problems within the business but taking it a step further and either fully solve them or offer suggestions to the relevant people to open a dialogue around how they could be solved.

Managers are interested in proactive thinkers, and by identifying and solving problems you indicate you not only care for the business but are able to be such a thinker.


Support others

By carving out time in your work week to support others in their tasks or knowledge, you will create the right image about yourself to those around you. Over time the more you support and guide others, the more people will speak highly of you and eventually it will hit the ears of those that make decisions about your pay.


Expand your scope

If possible, expand your scope into areas unknown. Learn about other parts of the business even if just a short discussion with department heads to understand how your work impacts theirs and vice versa.

Create connections with new colleagues and see what skills you can learn and share with them.

Expanding your scope allows managers to see your interest in the company and value across the business, not just in your immediate day-to-day work.


Asking for a raise

As you can see there is a lot of work to earn the raise before you can ask for the raise and with some luck, everything you have already done would have already received recognition and this part is no longer relevant. However, if you find yourself waiting it’s best you start the dance and make the first move.

Gather your data

Here you simply want to identify a number of areas in which you have grown, supported or in general went above and beyond your role over a set period of time (minimum of 6 months I would say).

Having this documented and to hand allows you to support your request with ease, instead of becoming a deer in headlights when asked ‘why’ you should get a pay rise.

Preparation with anything in life is key, best not to let it slip now.


Be confident

Don’t overcomplicate your request, you have been working hard at this for some time, and your manager is probably already expecting the chat.

Request clearly you would like to discuss your compensation, nothing too crazy here.


Ask at the right time

Even if you have gathered all the data and asked in a confident way, timing is still key. Try to avoid stressful periods such as project launches or lay-offs.

Try to time your request post a successful project launch or when you are just about to take on further responsibilities within the team.


Prepare to negotiate

With any negotiation, you need to prepare to negotiate. Your request might not be in line with what the company are willing to offer and with that knowledge you need to understand exactly what you are prepared to accept and not.

Many pay rises will often be between 1-5% so you can use this as a benchmark for your request, but I would advise researching this further for your industry / niche.

If the offer given does not align with your request and there is no possibility of movement, take some time to consider your next steps before returning to your manager. You might accept it now with a request to review it again in 6 months or decide it is now a good time to explore roles outside of the organisation to find the desired salary.


Pay rise discussions I believe are difficult to be held because like anything when it comes to job searching and negotiating, we are often not trained on how to improve here. A pay rise will take time, and there is a lot of groundwork required ahead of any request but the positive note is if you are willing to put the effort in, there is a strong possibility it will be recognised. This in turn will give you more confidence to make such requests in the future no matter the business.

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