how to negotiate a pay rise from your boss – and get it


It’s one of the most difficult conversations to have – which may be why asking your boss for a pay rise is something more than half of us have never done, according to one survey.

Even if you do pluck up the courage, should you? The Governor of the Bank of England recently asked us all not to request a rise because it could send inflation even higher.

But as the cost of living continues to soar, having that awkward conversation with your manager may become unavoidable. How then do you persuade them to pay you more?

1. Polish your ‘pay rise story’

Grace Lordan of the London School of Economics said: “People are underpaid because performance is difficult to measure and pay is often determined by unrelated things, such as extroversion, how a person dresses and an ability to thrive at office politics.”

“To secure a pay raise, craft a simple, memorable story that represents your performance over the past year.”

However, be careful about how much detail to offer. “Avoid information overload when polishing your pay rise story,” said Ms Lordan. A plethora of reasons why you deserve more money can be less effective than a handful of points well made.

She recommended what she called the “peak-end” rule: punctuate your pitch for a pay rise in the middle and at the end with blockbuster moments from your working life.

“I would recommend that for the peak you capture your biggest accomplishment in the past year, and at the end of the story you highlight the added value you will bring to your manager this year,” she said.

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2. Look at the bottom line

It’s also worth thinking about how you present the information. You need to demonstrate your case in a way that makes sense to the business – and that means looking at the bottom line. Quantifying any income generation you were responsible for, or savings you helped to achieve, will often make a more compelling case than warm words about company culture.

That method helped William Nimmo achieve a 13pc pay rise just a few weeks ago. Mr Nimmo, 28, works for a Manchester-based financial services company.

Every month, employees at his company, which he asked not to be named, have a one-to-one review with their manager. There is also an annual review to set targets. At the end of the annual meeting Mr Nimmo made his case for a pay rise. He compiled the documentation he’d collated over the course of the past year for his monthly meetings with his boss and then told his story about him.

“I said, ‘I think I’m doing a lot more than what the job spec is’,” Mr Nimmo said. “I’m doing a lot more than you signed me up for.” He laid out the targets he was set by the company for the previous year and the percentages by which he had exceeded them.

He highlighted changes in processes he had instigated and how much money they had saved the company. He compared himself with other departments in the business and then asked for more money.

“I was absolutely quaking,” I have admitted. But his boss said yes.

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The company said it intended to give everyone a pay rise in line with the increased cost of living, but said it would review his request for a further rise individually.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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