How to Negotiate a Pay Rise

Published on: 15 Aug 2014

There are two main reasons you may be unhappy with your current job salary, and therefore wish to ask your current - or potential – employer for a pay rise.

Firstly, it is possible you feel undervalued. This could be due to your wage being lower than average for those employed in the same role, or because you feel you offer far more than your job description demands. Secondly, your current salary might not be practical – perhaps you are struggling to meet the costs of your daily commute on top of your utility bills, and other living expenses.

Regardless of the situation applicable to you, the following advice will help you ask your employer to reconsider your salary, in a professional, and polite, manner. While nothing can ever be guaranteed, if you follow these tips, you’ll increase your chances of having your request granted without damaging your reputation, or stepping on anyone’s toes.

Understand the organisation and the current business climate

It may be the case the owners of the organisation you work for review salaries only at certain intervals (at the end of the financial year, for example). If such protocol is in place, you may wish to avoid asking for a raise at any other time, since doing so may irk your superiors, and hinder your chances of success.

You should also consider the current financial health of the business – are profits up, or have they recently fallen? If the company is struggling (and this fact has been shared with all stakeholders), asking for a salary revision is unlikely to go down well.

If the opposite is true however, and you have been instrumental in the company’s increased profitability, you should be sure to mention this as a part of your request (see 'consider your attributes', further down this page).

Research the average salary for your role

If you do not conduct research regarding the average salary for your role before enquiring about a pay rise, you could end up looking foolish. You may already be earning the equivalent of, or more than, the average wage for those employed in your role. If this is the case yet you still feel you deserve an increase, refer to the advice in the next section of this guide.

To investigate the average salary for your current or future role visit or to benchmark against similar jobs. You should also consider the region in which you work, since this can also affect how much an employee is paid. Those working in the capital for example, have higher living expenses and are usually paid more than the UK-wide average as a result.

It is also wise to avoid making assertions like “company X has offered me the same job with a higher salary”, even if this happens to be true. Such comments suggest you do not care about your job beyond the money it offers. This is important to note since most employers prefer to reward their most loyal members of staff. You can mention you have seen a number of adverts for similar roles offering higher salaries to support your argument, but it is best to indicate only that you have considered alternative employers, rather than revealing that you have had interviews.

Consider your attributes: are you easily replaced, or indispensable?

Asking for a pay rise should be treated similarly to a job interview. In both instances, you are asking the employer to invest in you, and what you can offer. Simply stating competing companies pay their employees more, or you're struggling to meet living expenses then, it’s unlikely to be enough to see your boss take your request seriously.

Consider the attributes which see you provide extra value to the company – do you often work extra hours to meet important deadlines? Do others consider you to be a useful information resource? Have you been influential in increasing the profitability of the business? Do you always go the extra mile?

If you are frequently exceeding the responsibilities outlined in your job description, requesting an interview for a promotion may be more appropriate. Moving up a level in your department (if possible) should also bring financial reward.

Always ask for more money than you actually expect (and be flexible)

While this may make you feel you are ‘pushing your luck’, asking for a higher salary than you expect will help ensure you receive a sum close to the amount you desire.

Your employer may be willing to meet your request for a pay rise, but may offer a little less than you ask for in order to assert authority, and see how much you’re willing to negotiate for the sake of keeping your job (thus testing your dedication to the business, not just your bank balance) Remember, your employer is under no obligation to pay you more, so you should remember to be flexible.

If, for example, you want your salary increased to £32,000 per annum, you might like to ask for £34,000. If you ask for £32,000, you may be offered £30,000 Instead. Of course, this theory won’t be applicable – or indeed, suitable – in all but it is worth considering this tactic nevertheless.

Don’t be too vocal regarding your salary concerns

When a person feels passionate about something, they often like to have their opinion heard. This can be very problematic when it comes to complaints regarding wages. Your boss likely won’t want to meet your request for a pay increase if they’ve heard you criticising them and/or the company on the grapevine, or worse; in person.

As such, you should be very careful what you say regarding your earning woes, and to whom. Consider who might be able to help you in your quest for higher payment. Speak to your department manager, or another appropriate authority figure. Avoid loudly whining to absolutely anyone who will listen – the walls have ears after all.

Unsuccessful pay rise request?

If your request for a salary increase is unsuccessful and this is adversely affecting your job satisfaction, it may be time to consider applying for a role elsewhere. To see a list of current vacancies in your sector and/or region, visit the jobs board on